Michael Franti has, over several decades of performing, built a career that spans a multitude of music genres, artistic collaborations and socio-political topics. The San Francisco native has been lauded as a voice for the people, focusing his efforts on creating music that has a positive impact in the world.
Often performing with his band Spearhead, Michael Franti offers an inclusive experience at his concerts. Fans should not be surprised to see that he rarely wears shoes onstage. Additionally, he has been known to strike yoga poses with his audience, sometimes accompanied by acoustic performances before his shows. Franti says he wants the experience to be "the inspiration to go out and change the world, to seek a new horizon, or to love someone that's close to you with everything you've got."
Franti's Hip Hop Origins
Michael Franti has always created music with a political message. He began his musical career in 1986 as part of a group called Beatnigs, then began working with percussionist Ron Tse in a hip hop-oriented group called Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy.
Although he first graced college radio airwaves with each of these acts, the singer and guitarist eventually broke out as a solo performer. Franti raps, sings and continues to dabble in such politically motivated genres as punk, rock and hip hop. Although he sometimes performs solo, Franti often performs with a band called Spearhead since 1994; together, their music draws from soul, R&B, dance hall and funk.
Franti's Musical Breakthrough
Franti first drew significant attention with The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy when the act was asked to open for U2 on the Irish band's Zoo TV Tour from 1992 to1993. However, Franti's work began to appeal to a wider demographic when he joined Spearhead; the band's music appeared in movies like 1999's "Mystery Men," 2006's "Last Holiday" and HBO drama "The Wire," among others. Since then, the band has shared billing with vocalists like John Mayer (they toured with Mayer in 2009), and has worked and recorded with artists including Sly and Robbie, Cherine Anderson and Pink.
Franti's Hit Records
Franti's 2008 album, All Rebel Rockers, didn't remain on the charts long after peaking at No. 18 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, but it did produce one of the artist's best and most popular singles, "Say Hey (I Love You)." The successful hit song -- which he reportedly wrote while in actor Woody Harrelson's toilet -- has since appeared in numerous commercials, TV shows, movies, and even the 2010 FIFA World Cup video game.
His following album, 2010's The Sound of Sunshine, was written from a far different standpoint: Franti had been hospitalised for a mystery illness for seven days that turned out to be an appendix rupture. When the doctors were finally able to diagnose him, he said he felt so grateful to be alive he wanted to put that feeling into words. The resulting album peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard 200 chart, receiving good reviews from publications like Entertainment Weekly. The magazine said the record "sets evocations of hard-won happiness to similarly strummy, globally grooved hip-hop."
After enjoying a Michael Franti concert, fans should check out shows by Washington, D.C. rocker Citizen Cope or San Francisco guitar icon Carlos Santana.
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