Taken from The Daily Collegian (Oct 28, 2010)
Michael Franti says ‘Hey’ to NoHo
by David Brinch
Michael Franti wears many different types of shoes.
Singer, songwriter, poet and political activist are just some of the types he wears, but literally speaking, he prefers not to wear shoes or use water bottles (except sandals when he absolutely has to).
Franti will likely be barefoot when his tour bus, which runs completely on bio-diesel, rolls into Northampton for a two-night stint at the Calvin Theater Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 with his band, Spearhead.
While most people know Franti by his 2009 hit, “Say Hey (I Love You)”, off of 2008’s “All Rebel Rockers”, he has been performing as Michael Franti and Spearhead for over 16 years and has recorded seven studio albums infused with reggae, hip-hop, rock and folk. “Say Hey” peaked at No. 18 in the United States on the Billboard Top 100 and has been featured in a number of advertisements, while “All Rebel Rockers” reached No. 38 on the U.S. Billboard Top 200, making it Franti’s most successful album to date.
Franti is touring to promote his new album, “The Sound of Sunshine”, which was released on Sept. 21 by Columbia Records. While his lyrics are mostly uplifting, like in “Say Hey,” most have political undertones directly tied to Franti’s grassroots efforts as an advocate for social justice, the environment and global peace.
In 2000, he released “Stay Human,” which pointed out through riveting lyrics Franti’s anti-death penalty sentiment, along with globalization and the monopolization of the media.
He has played inaugural balls for President Obama, has spoken out for peace in the Middle East and has been a figure for adoptions in the United States while promoting groups like Soles4Souls, CARE, Amnesty International and other philanthropic organizations.
Franti is mixed and was put up for adoption out of fear from his mother that people would not accept him. He was adopted by a Caucasian family that already had adopted an African-American child while raising three biological children. It was there that Franti experienced true love and compassion, which he took to the University of San Francisco and began creating music with a punk band called the “Beatnigs.”
He insists that “The Sound of Sunshine,” which reached No. 17 on the U.S. Billboard 200, was created to “bring all kinds of listeners a sense of hope during rough and rainy times for so many in our world,” according to his website.
In August, Franti suffered from a ruptured appendix and almost died while on tour. He wrote most of the songs off the new album while in the hospital and reassessed his life before heading into the studio in Jamaica to work on his “arguably the most cohesive, romantic and life-affirming album” that the group has ever made.
He might not be wearing shoes Monday and Tuesday nights, but expect a strong two-night run from Franti, whose political messages and intellectual lyrics are just as inspirational as the reggae-infused rhythms and sounds he produces.