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Taken from ChartAttack (Feb 21, 2006)

Michael Franti*s Middle East Trip Inspires Music, Movie And A Book

by ChartAttack.com Staff

Michael Franti
Michael Franti
Singer/songwriter and Spearhead frontman Michael Franti plans to share his recent experiences in Iraq with his fans in three different formats.

I Know I'm Not Alone will be released as an album with funk-folkers Spearhead, a documentary DVD and a book chronicling the trip. Franti told Billboard.com that he felt a strong need to embark on the voyage so that he could hear the voices of the war-torn country for himself.

"I went to Iraq as a listener. I just got tired of watching the news every night and hearing generals and politicians talking about the economics and the politics of the war, and never explaining the human cost of war. I just wanted to go there and listen to people."

The new album will be the first for Spearhead's new label, Epitaph's Anti. The worldwide deal excludes Australia, where Franti's efforts are licensed through Liberation Records, and he'll also continue to release material on his own Boo Boo Wax label. The disc was produced by Franti and Mario Caldato Jr. (Beastie Boys, Jack Johnson) and mixed by Mark Needham (The Killers). It features appearances by Pink, who lends her pipes to a ballad called "One Step Closer," and Sly & Robbie. Franti recorded songs with the rhythmic duo in Jamaica last year and hopes to release a batch of acoustic reggae songs inspired by that experience sometime in 2007 under the name Cool Water.

The documentary, subtitled A Musician's Journey Through War In The Middle East, was directed by the singer and screened at the 2005 Slamdance Film Festival. It features scenes of Franti performing on acoustic guitar with children on the streets of Baghdad, dining in the homes of war-battered families and sitting in on a rehearsal by an Iraqi metal band. The doc also follows Franti's travels through Israel and the Gaza Strip, where he talks to both Israeli soldiers and Palestinians who've had their houses bulldozed.

The book, published by Palace Press in Los Angeles, will further document Franti's adventures.

The multimedia project helps mark the 20th anniversary of Franti's musical career, which has included time in both the Beatnigs and the Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy.

—Phil Villeneuve


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