Music, film, kids' books, and yoga. It must be a Michael Franti Christmas. At least that's how it felt around our house this year, and it was all my fault. I bought the limited edition boxed set release of Franti's latest CD, All Rebel Rockers, for our 13-year-old (and myself), his beautifully illustrated children's book, What I Be, for our 6-year-old, and his Yoga DVD for Shawn.I admit right off the bat that I'm a huge Michael Franti and Spearhead fan, and I'm sure many readers of Boing Boing are at least familiar with some of their music. But I couldn't pass up this opportunity to turn on some others to this inspiring man and offer up a few links. Franti's music is hard to categorize, but if you like reggae, hip-hop, and funky beats with intelligent and positive lyrics, I highly recommend checking him out. For me, grooving to the Sly and Robbie-powered dub versions from All Rebel Rockers was a highlight of my holiday.
As I read about the latest news of more violence in Gaza, I also can’t recommend enough Franti’s 2005 documentary film about the Iraq war and the Middle East, I Know I’m Not Alone. I had the fortunate opportunity to take my son to a screening of I Know I’m Not Alone that Franti presented at a local high school, and we both found it to be a deeply moving film and experience. I was a little concerned about taking my young son to a documentary about war, but Franti has an amazing ability to take on the most serious, heavy, and depressing topics and still offer an uplifting message. I wouldn’t have thought it was possible to put a positive spin on what’s been happening in Iraq and with the Palestinian conflict (he deals with both in the film, traveling to Baghdad, Israel, and Palestine), but Franti somehow sees the good in all of us and uses his music as a powerful force for peace.
I really do believe that the world can be changed by music, and Michael Franti is out there doing it. Shawn just chimed in, saying that she thinks his acoustic version of “Nobody Right, Nobody Wrong” should be played at Obama’s inauguration next month. At the very least, we’ll be playing it in our household to drown out Rick Warren’s invocation and keep us thinking positively about the future. Along those lines, Franti’s just added his own Obama-themed song to the mix of musicians paying homage to hope. It’s available for a free download. Power to the Peaceful!