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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 “S” on his chest, Spearhead frontman Franti believes music offers a healing quality.


“I 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 it’s bringing out the best in all the rest,” Franti said during a recent News-Miner interview. “When 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 there’s hope and optimism.”


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 Spearhead’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 — even in the most troubled times.


“Those kinds of things made me want to address issues in more complex ways,” he said. “Early on in my career I was just expressing anger and not really with an eye to the outcome. Today, I’m more interested in outcomes. I want everything I’m putting out in the world to lead to the betterment of people’s lives; hopefully relieve suffering along the way.”


“Good To Be Alive Today,” from his latest release, “Soulrocker,” captures this esthetic. The flowy, strings-tinged track stares down myriad social, political and global issues, yet remains amazingly buoyant, upbeat and positive.


“I’m always trying to find new musical ways of expressing what I’m thinking and feeling. I want to be as clear as I can be about what I’m talking about, but I also want people not to feel like it’s a binary politic that’s taking place in my music. It’s not,” he said. “If I went on stage and delivered 10 angry songs about how (messed) up the government was, by the end of it I’d feel like I totally missed the mark about what life is about. … I want there to be anthems for life, for celebrating our strengths and the good side of things.”


That said, with a distinctly local outlook, there’s “Summertime Is In Our Hands,” with Franti singing, “Even in the winter we want some sunshine.”


“Summer is a state of mind,” Franti confirmed with a laugh. “It’s always at your fingertips, and I’m sure we’ll find it when we play Fairbanks.”


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/



 
 

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