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'Playing it Forward' concert series launches with John Legend

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It was just an ordinary day by the Culver City Farmer’s Market in Southern California. That was until John Legend showed up for a surprise performance for fans as the first artist in the new concert web series Playing it Forward.

Launched by Crackle, the multi-platinum entertainment network behind Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee among other ventures, Playing it Forward will feature surprise street performance of some of the biggest’s names in music across the country, all benefiting music education and charities of the artists’ choice with a $100,000 donation from Crackle.  Playing it Forward is presented by FedEx and produced by veteran music producer/composer Tony Berg and Kevin Lake in association with Robert Downey Jr.’s entertainment company Team Downey.

“Music is a shared passion among our viewers and we’re excited to open a door to some of the industry’s biggest artists, making them accessible to our audience—all while raising money and awareness for charity and music education,” said Executive Vice President of Digital Networks at Sony Pictures Television and GM of Crackle, Eric Berger. “Playing it Forward is more than a concert series—it’s a movement that shows the value of music and a gift to fans around the world – we’re excited to kick it off with a surprise set from John Legend, to air across all Crackle platforms.”

Legend tweeted the news about the performance about two hours before and through social media, street teams and word of mouth (or more so, sound of piano), about 200 fans showed up to see Legend perform. Legend played his hit “Ordinary People”, “All of Me” from his new album Love in the Future and the song “Shine” which the Grammy winner wrote for the documentary Waiting for Superman, about the public education system in America. Legend chose his organization the Show Me Campaign, which works to break the cycle of poverty by giving children access to quality education through the promotion of scalable, proven solutions and programs.

“We focus on education in the Show Me Campaign.” Legend told EW. “We focus on funded solutions that are proven to help improve kids lives, giving them better access to quality education. Doing whatever we can to make sure that no matter where a kid grew up, they have access to quality schools.”

Legend, who is in the middle of touring right now, liked playing to a more small and intimate crowd. “This is cool. It’s impromptu. It’s a nice vibe. Everybody felt like it was a pleasant surprise to their day.” Legend said.

More unexpected performances are coming soon. Fans can get more details and uncover clues to the next performance by visiting the Playing it Forward website and following Crackle on Facebook and Twitter.