Steven Van Zandt and his Rock and Roll Forever Foundation are partnering with the Worldwide Day of Gratitude initiative, which will honor COVID-19 first responders with a sing-along of the Bill Withers classic “Lean On Me” Thursday, April 30th, at 7 p.m. ET.
Those interested in participating can download the sheet music for “Lean On Me,” authorized by the publishing house the Hal Leonard Corporation. There are also other lesson plans for teachers and parents centered around the song that are being provided by the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation’s national K-12 curriculum initiative, TeachRock.org. Participants are encouraged to share their versions of “Lean On Me” on social media, while the song will also be broadcast on SiriusXM stations at 7 p.m. ET.
“We are all finding ways to say thank you to our essential worker heroes who have worked right through this very scary time,” Van Zandt said in a statement. “We applaud them every night at 7:00. Now we’ll add a great song to say thank you.”
The Worldwide Day of Gratitude event was organized by the student-run music group YOUnison and it’s attracted the support of 50 other organizations along with the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation. “The effort put forth by the first responders and healthcare workers has been incredibly inspiring to so many around the world,” YOUnison co-founder Andrew E. Morrison said. “To show our gratitude, teachers, students, and people of all ages can use the power of music and the arts to unite to honor these amazing heroes.”
Withers’ “Lean On Me” has once again returned as an anthem during the COVID-19 pandemic, just as it’s been sung during other crises, such as after the 2010 earthquakes in Haiti and following Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. For instance, during a recent TV special dedicated to raising money for Food Banks Canada, a host of Canadian artists — including Justin Bieber, Avril Lavigne, Geddy Lee and Bryan Adams — sang the song.