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TONIGHT: Join ‘Lean On Me’ Global Singalong With Steve Van Zandt

Steven Lento, 69, with guitar, the Boss and bandana
Steven Lento, 69, with guitar, the Boss and bandana Photo Credit: Manuel Martinez Perez (Flickr/Wikipedia)

#LEANONUS: The musical equivalent of banging pots outside comes tonight when 60 SiriusXM stations play the late Bill Withers tune “Lean On Me,” thanks in large part to New Jersey’s own Steve Van Zandt. But that’s not all. 

Van Zandt has asked music teachers, students and others to honor first responders and healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic by also recording their own version of the 1972 pop classic during today's “Worldwide Day of Gratitude."

Known variously in his career as “Miami Steve,” “Little Steven” and Silvio Dante, the bandana-wearing rocker from Middletown has been consiglieri to two of New Jersey's biggest cultural icons, Bruce Springsteen and Tony Soprano.

He’s the front man this time, using his “Underground Garage” channel on SiriusXM, teachers at his “Rock and Forever Foundation” and his national K-12 curriculum initiative,, to amplify Thursday’s mission.

The student-run YOUnison launched the “Worldwide Day of Gratitude” concept, and nearly 50 organizations rushed in to help stage the global jam.

Those interested in participating are asked to share their unique versions of “Lean On Me” on YouTube and social media channels using the hashtags #LeanOnUs and #DayOfGratitude.

Sheet music was authorized by the Hal Leonard Corporation, along with special lesson plans developed by, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and others to help those who need a hand.


Or just sing along with the radio.

“We are all finding ways to say thank you to our essential worker heroes who have worked right through this very scary time,” says Van Zandt. “We applaud them every night at 7:00. Now we’ll add a great song to say thank you.”

Withers, whose first hit was “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone,” was 81 when he died on April 3.


WATCH: A New Jersey firefighter has tapped into classic hip-hoppers Wu-Tang Clan for a video warning that COVID-19 “ain’t nuthin’ to be stuck with.”


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