Taken from Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (Mar 01, 2017)
Michael Franti creates anthems for life while tackling social woes
by Glenn BurnSilver For the News-Miner
Michael Franti, an American rapper, musician, poet, spoken word artist and singer-songwriter, is performing Saturday at The Blue Loon, 2999 Parks Highway, with one of his latest projects.
Chelsea Klette photo
War, famine, political upheaval. The world is an exceedingly turbulent place right now. Michael Franti is here to help.
While not exactly some caped superhero with a giant â€śSâ€ť on his chest, Spearhead frontman Franti believes music offers a healing quality.
â€śI really believe music is a healing force in the world. Right now is a time that is bringing out the worst in a small group of people, but itâ€™s bringing out the best in all the rest,â€ť Franti said during a recent News-Miner interview. â€śWhen I make music, I want there to be a sense of optimism. I do address things that are challenging that are taking place in my personal life or the world, but I always want to leave people feeling like thereâ€™s hope and optimism.â€ť
Franti, a tireless social activism champion, has been promoting healing through music from his earliest days with the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy through his long tenure as Spearheadâ€™s leader. Along the way, his music has changed to reflect continual experimentation with multiple musical genres including reggae, soul, gospel, and more recently electronic dance music, but always with an eye to assuring his positive message reaches the largest audience.
A trip to Iraq in 2004 where he played protest songs on the streets while the United States was simultaneously bombing the country taught him that people need more than straight protest songs. They also desire music that brings joy, makes them dance and feel good â€” even in the most troubled times.
â€śThose kinds of things made me want to address issues in more complex ways,â€ť he said. â€śEarly on in my career I was just expressing anger and not really with an eye to the outcome. Today, Iâ€™m more interested in outcomes. I want everything Iâ€™m putting out in the world to lead to the betterment of peopleâ€™s lives; hopefully relieve suffering along the way.â€ť
â€śGood To Be Alive Today,â€ť from his latest release, â€śSoulrocker,â€ť captures this esthetic. The flowy, strings-tinged track stares down myriad social, political and global issues, yet remains amazingly buoyant, upbeat and positive.
â€śIâ€™m always trying to find new musical ways of expressing what Iâ€™m thinking and feeling. I want to be as clear as I can be about what Iâ€™m talking about, but I also want people not to feel like itâ€™s a binary politic thatâ€™s taking place in my music. Itâ€™s not,â€ť he said. â€śIf I went on stage and delivered 10 angry songs about how (messed) up the government was, by the end of it Iâ€™d feel like I totally missed the mark about what life is about. â€¦ I want there to be anthems for life, for celebrating our strengths and the good side of things.â€ť
That said, with a distinctly local outlook, thereâ€™s â€śSummertime Is In Our Hands,â€ť with Franti singing, â€śEven in the winter we want some sunshine.â€ť
â€śSummer is a state of mind,â€ť Franti confirmed with a laugh. â€śItâ€™s always at your fingertips, and Iâ€™m sure weâ€™ll find it when we play Fairbanks.â€ť
If You Go
What: Michael Franti Trio
When: Saturday, March 4. Doors open at 8 p.m.
Where: The Blue Loon, 2999 Parks Highway
Tickets: Available online at http://www.theblueloon.com/