Taken from Providence Journal (July 12, 2018)
Singer/songwriter Michael Franti brings his tour to East Providence
He has a new album and a documentary in which he shares stories of 'heroic everyday people'.
by Susan McDonald, Special to The Journal
Singer and songwriter Michael Franti will be at Bold Point Park in East Providence on Wednesday, July 18. [Anthony Thoen]
Every morning, singer-songwriter Michael Franti says he dreads turning on the news - but while mass shootings, natural disasters and other sad stories leave him muttering "not again," he's found a way create something positive.
"The world is made up of a billion people doing a billion little things every single day," Franti says in a phone interview from his Reno, Nevada, home, explaining the impetus behind his latest project, "Stay Human 2" - an album that dropped last month and provides the soundtrack for his upcoming, self-directed documentary "Stay Human."
The title isn't new to anyone who has followed him since the release of his first studio album, "Home," in 1994. "Stay Human" was the title of the 2001 album that delved into the social ramifications of the death penalty, mass-media monopolies and corporate globalization. Reminding listeners to "stay human" while considering such weighty issues is Franti's goal.
"It's what it means to stay human, to be our authentic self. The message is more important than ever," he says. "The one thing that unites us is that no one is perfect. When we're able to embrace this, we'll be able to see other people living the same way we do."
Franti is a free spirit who prefers being barefoot, gathers fans for pre-concert yoga sessions and believes in the power of the words he writes and sets to music. He is a storyteller who shares snippets of his own life and the experiences of others in an attempt to level a rocking world.
"Music is so important. It allows you to hear and share stories of how people are getting by," he explains. "If you can change my thoughts, you can change how I feel. It's like a muscle you have to work on. If you never practice, you can't expect it to get stronger."
So he practices. Through the years and while traveling the world, his music has been political and humanistic. He's also a spoken-word artist and finds even the shortest spiel can have tremendous impact "toward making the world a better place."
With the "Stay Human" documentary, Franti shares personal stories of those he calls "heroic everyday people." In one, he details the horrible day he found out his mother had a stroke and his son got a negative medical report.
"I start writing to get those feelings out," he says. "It helps me. I always feel better. Those feelings are another thing that unites us - the most important thing we have is how we feel. I take care to put emotion into the words and try to write about getting through. It's as much for myself as for the listener. It's my catharsis."
Politics always manages to weave into his songs because Franti says it's hard to separate them from his feelings about life and the world as a whole.
"I don't know if we should separate politics from feelings," he muses. "We should be voting from our hearts. America is a flawed place but it's a wonderful experience trying to be as just and as healthy as we can possibly be. We get it right enough of the time."