Mark Johnson's viral video of legendary street blues singer Roger Ridley performing “”Stand By Me”” has been viewed over 128 million times. He shares why he created Playing For Change to inspire and connect the world through music.

Guest Biography

Mark Johnson is a Grammy-winning producer/engineer and award-winning film director whose visionary concept a decade ago became the driving force behind Playing for Change. His work was spotlighted in a profile on the PBS series Bill Moyers Journal.

For the past decade, he has worked with some of the most renowned producers in the music, film, and television industries, and with such musical artists as Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Rikki Lee Jones, Los Lobos, and Taj Mahal. In 2005, Johnson earned a “Contemporary Blues Album of the Year” Grammy as producer/engineer of the Keb’ Mo’ album Keep It Simple. In 2010, Mark and Playing For Change won the Cubadisco Award for best world album in Cuba.

Johnson parlayed his musical knowledge and technical skills in perfecting an innovative mobile technique for recording street musicians around the world, and combining their performances, giving birth to the Songs Around The World. His first documentary film, Playing for Change: A Cinematic Discovery of Street Musicians, won honors at several European festivals, and his more recent project, Playing for Change: Peace through Music, garnered awards and critical praise at the Tribeca Film Festival, Maui Film Festival, San Francisco Black International Film Festival, Jerusalem Film Festival, and New England’s Roxbury Film Festival, where it earned “Best Song” for “Stand by Me”.

Mark Johnson has also been a keynote speaker at the United Nations, TED Global, the University of Michigan’s Martin Luther King Day Celebration, The World Economic Forum in Davos as well as the Million Dollar Round Table. Mark is on the board of the Playing for Change Foundation and continues to travel the world uniting people through music and education.

Show notes:

In this episode, you will learn:

  • How Mark Johnson went from working in the studio with musicians like Keith Richards, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Bono, Jimmy Buffett, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Keb’ Mo’, Sara Bareilles and others… to filming street musicians.
  • The power of music — how it connects us, and can break down barriers.
  • The massive impact that the Playing for Change Foundation is having all over the world.

Find more from our guest:

Mentioned in this episode:

Runnymede Money Tip of the Week:

  • Teach your kids about money… and contentment!

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Special thanks to Jim Kimo West for the music.