Cuban Music Legends Play ‘Chan Chan’ With Players Around the World

Watch Cuban Music Legends Play ‘Chan Chan’ With Players Around the World

HAVANA, April 18th  Last year, Robbie Robertson played “The Weight” with musicians around the world, including Ringo Starr, Japanese guitar virtuoso Char, Congo soul singer Mermens Mosengo, and others. It’s been streamed more than 8 million times on YouTube. Many of those streams happened in the past month; Mark Johnson, the co-founder of Playing for Change, who made the video, suspects it became “a tool for people in isolation.”

For their first video since “The Weight,” Johnson and his team chose the Cuban classic “Chan Chan,” popularized by Buena Vista Social Club in 1997. Johnson has recorded music in more than 50 countries with Playing for Change, which has 15 music schools across 11 countries.
“There’s just a few songs that you hear performed all over the world on the street. One of them is Bob Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds.’ And another one is ‘Chan Chan.’ I’ve just heard it sung in so many cultures, usually when I’m travelling to Spanish-speaking countries. So we thought, ‘Well, why don’t we try to take this track from Cuba, and go around the world and add musicians? Because we knew it’s a song that people sing, sort of as an anthem all over the world.”

Johnson and his team started in Cuba, tracking down local legends such as Teté Caturla Garcia and Pancho Amat, before travelling everywhere from the U.S. to Mali to Lebanon to finish the track.