Peace, Love & Music
Gillian Wynn celebrates her friend, musician Michael Franti.
I HAVEN’T EATEN one of John’s “special” cookies or even sipped the Corralejo tequila tucked away in my friend’s bag, but I’m intoxicated. I’m on a stage in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park before tens of thousands of fans. No, this is not a dream: It’s a once-in-a-crazy-lifetime experience furnished by Michael Franti, frontman for Michael Franti & Spearhead and the inspirational leader of the Power To The Peaceful Festival. The event—dedicated to music, consciousness and action—was established by Franti in 1999 and takes place every fall in San Francisco.
If you aren’t yet acquainted with Franti or his music, think Bob Marley meets Bono. Throughout his 20-year career, he has explored a myriad of different styles, ranging from industrial punk to hip-hop to reggae. His poetic lyrics—now set to swelling rock chords—are always flavored by a world-beat groove.
After nearly two hours of taking us all on a musical joyride, the tall, dreadlocked and barefoot Franti performs his biggest hit, “Say Hey (I Love You).” I grab my friend and join the other fans fearless or foolish enough to venture on stage. As an artist, Franti is committed to raising awareness, while at the same time questioning how we hold on to our spirituality, community and connectedness to one another. As a performer, he is so adept at creating a sense of oneness, I believe almost anyone could join him on stage and dance her heart out.
PHOTOGRAPH BY NOAH ABRAMS