Roger Ridley

It could be argued Roger Ridley is responsible for the Playing for Change movement. PFC creators Mark Johnson and Whitney Kroenke planted a seed in 2002 when they hit America’s streets with mobile recording equipment. Hoping for inspiration – their fledgling mission began as a project to look and listen to the “shadow people” – to hear and feel sentiments of people the majority of us barely noticed, let alone stopped to acknowledge.

Venice, California 2005 – Johnson stumbled upon Roger Ridley singing Stand by Me. His voice piercing the day, a beacon of “joy” in the purest sense. Mesmerized by the power Ridley commanded – Johnson asked Ridley if he could return the next day to record his performance. Ridley agreed, and PFC global movement, “Songs Around the World” was born. A mission to connect the world through music – global musicians singing the same song, uniting the world with music. Stand By Me is brilliant, the catalyst for Playing for Change Band, and formation of their foundation operating music schools in the most impoverished corners of the globe.

Roger Ridley passed away suddenly in 2009 at the age of 51. Ridley was a messenger – a man who traveled every Saturday from his home in Las Vegas to play on the Venice boardwalk. A man completely deaf in one ear, and very close to it in the other. Undaunted by minor details –  a man who understood his path, followed his heart, and touched that of all who wandered within ear-shot. Ridley set unstoppable forces in motion – I doubt he knew the enormity of the seed his voice sowed.

Find out more about Playing For Change….

Sunday Night Musical Ponder

Sunday evening often brings a musical ponder. All I ask – a few minutes listening to one of the shadow people you scurry past every day. Rendered invisible, inhabiting a realm outside our comfort zone – we avoid eye contact, pretend to look at our phones, or brace our delicate sensibilities until well beyond their presence.

Drug addiction, mental illness, violence, poverty and circumstance – not easy to solve. I’m not asking for, or expecting acknowledgement as the magic wand capable of wiping it away. All I could hope for is a fleeting moment of realization – a moment when compassion allows us to see people hidden in the shadows.