“We give them roots so they have wings to fly.”
– Carole Franti
This is one of the most profound statements from Carol Franti, the mother of Michael Franti, Rebecca, Matt, Sara and Dan. She offers other words to describe her tallest son.
“As a young boy, he was always doing something,” she said. “He has lots of moxie. He is daring, creative and is innovative with purpose.”
For me, one word that comes to mind when I think of Michael Franti is “heart.”
All that he contributes and the awareness he brings to the world, come from his gigantic heart. His One Heart One Soul Acoustic Tour is all about bringing people together and inspiring one another. Franti’s son Cappy is heading up a conscious movement on this tour. People attending the show are asked to write their words of inspiration on a piece of fabric, then that is placed on a mural type of art that becomes the backdrop on stage. This entire Franti family is creative.
As for me, not only do I contribute to Tahoe Onstage, I am a fan of Franti and what he stands for. I also am friend of Franti’s mother. Carole Franti and I met on a Panama Canal Cruise for Writer’s and Book Lovers 11 years ago, and we have recently connected.
Carole, a very petite, recently widowed, reserved white-haired woman, mother and teacher is how she made herself known when we sat for our first meal on that cruise. As days passed, we learned that we were both from Northern California and lived very close to each other and our friendship and conversations became more personal. We shared our stories, knowledge, swayed and laughed around many different topics. One evening the subject of tattoos came up and Carole announced in her matter-of -fact tone, “My son has lots of tattoos.”
I remember many of us were intrigued and wanted to know more about her son. She shared that she adopted her African American son as an infant and he grew very tall and thought he would be a NBA basketball player. But instead he became an artist and musician, and his name is Michael Franti.
Carole mentioned that he was performing at Lake Tahoe the next week and invited me to attend the concert with her. At that point, I was not familiar with Franti’s music and was I ever surprised how amazing the concert was. I was not only impressed with sounds performed by Franti, Spearhead and Ziggy Marley, but by the fans in the audience who were so connected to Franti and the music. You could feel a mission of love.
Being with Carole and observing the gratitude she also received was memorable. The fans not only appreciated Franti, they honored Carole for raising a true artist and gentleman.
Let’s move the clock forward 11 years. Carol and I reunited for another one of Franti’s concerts and this time he is celebrating 20 years with his band, Spearhead, and is on tour performing a new grassroots type of acoustic concert called, One Heart One Soul.
The many tours and projects Michael does are for the good of people (www.doitforthelove.org) and his work schedule is non-stop. Carole, along with two of her other children, Matt and Rebecca, happily traveled to Grass Valley’s sold out Center for the Arts venue to see Franti perform and spend a little time with him.
Upon my arrival, I was greeted by Hosseim, the tour manager and tour musicians, Ethan, Carl and J. They welcomed me and immediately put me at ease. The loving energy flow back stage is evident and is expressed and shared openly on stage, and the beauty of this show is that it can be random and the audience is able to participate in the sprouting of a grass root type of show, it is very personal and special. Every show is unique.
In the green room I witnessed first-hand the love, time and how Franti is present as he connects with his family, concert promoters, children, and recipients of Do It For the Love, and a local artist, Heart, who had the opportunity to sing a song with Michael on stage. Heart was not the only one who had stage time. Carole was brought on stage as Franti honored her and his childhood. It was the most touching expressions of love and gratitude between mother and son. Franti began by thanking everyone for being there especially his mother, and began talking about his childhood.
“My mom was insistent when we went out in the neighborhood, we were supposed to treat every kid the way we wanted to be treated, no matter if they spoke a different language, went to a different church, if they had two moms or two dads, or played on a different soccer team.” He looked over at Carole and said,
“One time she told me, as a parent, her goal was to give her children wings.”
He jokingly said, “I told her, Mom, I don’t want wings.” Everyone laughed.
“What she meant is she showed us how to do simple things around the house, make beds, cook, and at the time, I didn’t understand and thought she was just a pain in my… but later I realized she was teaching us how to do the basic things so our minds would then be free to create and explore things. She wanted us all to grow into being individual people, and I am grateful for that. I try to carry those values and when I am out in the world playing music I try to honor that about our family and celebrate our adversity and caring for each other.”
Everyone applauded and shouted positive affirmations to Carole and Franti.
This encouraged Carole to step up to the microphone and say, “I have to tell you a story about this guy.”
The audience silenced and she had everyone’s attention.
“He was the tallest one in our family and I have some high windows and sent him up to wash those windows with a step ladder, but those windows never got washed because he became too busy playing drumsticks on the ladder.”
The audience laughed and Franti chimed in, “I would have gotten to them,Mom.”
Carole went on, “Anyway, my kids are all different and I embrace that. They are all special.” With that, Franti replied, “Love you, Mom” and began playing “All I Want Is You.”
Having a personal connection with Carole allowed me to get up close and personal with Franti and in my first interview I felt comfortable asking him, “What do people not know about you?”
What he shared with me is that he recently previewed his newest documentary “11.59” with 300 people and they came up to him afterwards and were making comments like, we see you on stage and your shows are inspiring and emotional, yet we never realized how much you go through times of uncertainty. He said that this new film delves into that.
“I really go into the history of being a socially conscious musician and at times feel like the last 25 years of my life hasn’t meant anything because the world still goes on the same way as it always has and there is still so much pain in the world and so many difficult things still taking place and I question that.”
He added, “I stay up late in the middle of the night thinking about it and in this film I talk about all that it takes inside of me. The world is a hard place. We can contribute to the greater good and create greater balance in our lives that create security of our homes and family and at the same time be giving back to the greater good and this a challenge in my life.”
On a lighter note, Franti expressed that the other thing that people may not know about him is that he loves to have fun.
“People may see me as a serious artist and can’t imagine me joking around, but I am the one on our tours that is keeping it light and always laughing and telling jokes.”
As we know and can read, Michael Franti and his loving roots have allowed him to fly and touch the world with care. Michael Franti does make a difference!
This One Heart One Soul acoustic tour is one-of-a- kind and you don’t want to miss it. See you at Crystal Bay on Wednesday, Nov. 12 and stay tuned for my review.