Michael Franti and Spearhead "All People

Michael Franti collaborates with new partners for a joyous celebration of life

Michael Franti’s career is a study in evolution, beginning with his recordings as a member of the punk band The Beatnigs. His next project, Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy teamed him with jazz and electronic musicians. With the formation of Spearhead, Franti’s music became more melody based. Franti actively studied songwriting by working with other musicians, learning to play guitar along the way.  The one overriding characteristic of his music has always been his socially aware, often politically charged lyrics. Age and maturity has also produced a relentless enthusiasm and positive attitude toward humanity.

Michael Franti & Spearheads’ eighth album continues to celebrate the human spirit while dissecting the issues that separate people. “All People is about the beauty of diversity, being your authentic self in a crazy world and the infinite power of love…” Franti stated in a recent interview. That attitude is best expressed in songs like “I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like),” or “Life Is Better With You” an unabashed love song. Even when he’s examining political or socially sensitive issues Franti maintains his positivity.

Spearhead’s 2010 album The Sound of Sunshine was a breakthrough of sorts for the band as it went to number seventeen on the Billboard charts. All People should cement their commercial viability. Franti’s melodies are an addictively catchy mix of pop, rock, rap, and hip-hop, with a hint of indie-folk. For the first time Franti collaborates with writers from outside his band. Gina Rene is featured on the album’s title track. “11:59”, and “On and On” are collaborations with The Matrix, a production team that has worked with Christine Aguilera, Britney Spears, and Jason Mraz. Somalian émigré K’naan joins in on “Earth From Outer Space.” J Bowman, a rising guitar star, co-writes several songs. Adrian Newman contributes to several tracks including the emotionally charged “Say Goodbye,” a song partially inspired by the Trayvon Martin case.  

Concerning his ventures into new collaborations Franti says “I always thought writing with somebody else; a song would take on less of what was in my heart and shared experience. Ironically, I found that, working with somebody else, the song took on a more vivid expression of what was in my heart.” For a man who says he measures success by how happy he is, I would say Michael Franti is a great success.

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix)