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Michael Franti looks at life and death on new Spearhead album

@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2013

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Michael Franti says that one thematic idea for "All People," his new album with his band Spearhead, actually morphed into another that digs a little deeper into the emotional psyche.

"I thought I was going to write a record that was really about a celebration of diversity, like the title says," explains Franti, 47, a singer and rapper from the San Francisco Bay Area who formed Spearhead in 1994 after tenures with the Beatnigs and the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy.

"Then as I started writing and listening back to the songs, I realized it`s not really about that so much; it's more about the classic existential question of, 'I only have X amount of years in my life, and what do I want to do with my time and who do I want to spend it with and what's the mark I want to leave?' So that's really what most of the songs on the record are about."

Many of the songs on "All People," he adds are inspired by Sara Agah, Franti's partner and mother of his two sons, who's an emergency room nurse. Their combined experiences, he says, provide a yin and yang that leads to the affirmative tone that dominates Spearhead's songs.

"I travel around the world and spend a lot of time in countries where you see people who are living from day to day," Franti says, "whether form intense poverty or war or some kind of environmental or natural disaster. I experience that as a traveler, and I see things and I talk to people and I hear their experiences.

"Sara, she deals with it every night on a 12-hour shift, and she sees people in their greatest need. So I'm always trying to write my songs for people when they're in that time of greatest need, and she's physically there for them in that time. I really admire that. She's one of my heroes."

Michael Franti & Spearhead and Bernard Fitzgerald perform Friday, Sept. 6, at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St. Doors open at 8 p.m. General admission tickets are $25 in advance, $30 day of show, with $45 reserved seats. Call (248) 392-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheatre.com.

Web Site: www.royaloakmusictheatre.com

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