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Grammy Award-Winning Producer, Director Helps Bring Peace Through Music

Mark Johnson
Mark Johnson

A music producer, engineer and filmmaker from California is taking the message of peace through music to communities around the world, using the latest innovations in mobile recording technology. In this week's edition of Making a Difference, we introduce you to Mark Johnson, who is uniting people through music.

Grammy award-winning producer and film director Mark Johnson has dedicated his life to connecting people through music. He and his crew have recorded musicians around the world in their natural settings, and he has compiled these recordings into a top-selling CD and DVD.

Johnson recently finished his first concert tour of North America and Spain, featuring some of these performers.

"One thing about making peace is that it is not necessarily one day when the whole world stops fighting. It is more of a state of mind and the consciousness of all the people on the planet," he explained. "What I think music can do is go from one heart to another heart. And it can really express the sentiment behind the words."

Johnson says that growing up in New York City helped shape his vision of helping humanity. And as an interpersonal communications major at the University of New Hampshire, he learned how people create meaning in the world. "Great music and art are moments in time. They exist everywhere," he said. "But in these, you can harness the energy to inspire everybody to believe more in each other and make a difference in a limited time we have in this world."

Mark Johnson won a Grammy award in 2005 for his work on an album by American blues musician Keb' Mo'. That same year, he started Playing for Change -- a multimedia project that seeks to bring peace to the world through music.

Johnson and his crew have traveled to some of the most remote areas on Earth to record music for the project -- from small African towns to Himalayan mountain villages.

"Fortunately for all of us, there is great music everywhere. This first round of traveling the world was just to open the door. There are always more cultures and more musicians to have involved in this project. So people can actually see the power of cultures from all over the world, uniting together for a common purpose," he said.

Mark Johnson's team has traveled to regions devastated by war, poverty and natural disasters. He says that everywhere they have been, they have found people who are surviving, in part, by playing music. He says there are too many divisions in the world and that people must find ways to overcome them.

"Religion and politics can be beautiful. But they inherently divide people," he stated. "Music inherently connects people. That's why it is the most likely way to inspire people to care more about the world around them. Once they do that, they will care more about themselves and that's the only way we are going to make great change. The world wants to come together. And music is the best way to make that happen."

Mark Johnson's goal is to continue recording music, and inspiring people to come together and forget about their differences.