Robbie Robertson, the co-founder of The Band and Ringo Starr have joined forces with Playing For Change, a grassroots multimedia music project dedicated to “inspiring and connecting the world through music,” for an epic, global rendition of The Bands' song “The Weight.”
Born in 2002 as a shared vision between co-founders, Mark Johnson and Whitney Kroenke, to hit the streets of America with a mobile recording studio and cameras in search of “inspiration and the heartbeat of the people,” the idea for this project came from a common belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people.
Since then, the project has grown to include 15 music schools across 11 countries, as well as documentaries and viral videos that have seen artists from different cultures come together to perform renditions of songs like “Redemption Song,” “What’s Going On” and more.
This time around, Robertson and Playing For Change brought together a host of musicians, including Ringo Starr, over the course of a year and a half of production, which took place on five continents, to perform “The Weight” in honor of the song’s 50th anniversary.
Commenting on the process, Playing For Change co-founder and Grammy-winning producer-engineer, Mark Johnson, recently told Rolling Stone: “We made it brick by brick, starting with Robbie. That’s what makes this special. We could never have never assembled this group in the studio. You need to go there, and then when you go there, you’re where they feel comfortable. You hear that in the music.”
“[Robbie is] so proud of it. He told me the other day that it was a dream come true for him to see it. All the musicians on it really moved him, to see how his music is able to travel all over the world. A musician like Mermans Mosengo; he comes from the Congo. He was smuggled out of the Congo in an empty oil tanker to get to South Africa, where he became a refugee. A musician like that plays music to stay alive. A guy who comes from one of the most dangerous places in the world realizes that music is the ammunition we need to move forward. It’s not guns, it’s not violence. I think anyone who sees somebody come from something so difficult and persevere, it just inspires you.”
photo: I, Truejustice [CC BY-SA 3.0]