Musician Michael Franti visits WSU


Photo By: Cade Clark
Michael Franti performs in the union ballrooms on Monday at Convocations.

WSU Convocations hosted the event in the Shepherd Union Ballrooms, which Franti entered barefoot, carrying his guitar.

“I feel a lot more comfortable behind a guitar than I do just talking in front of a microphone” was one of the first things he said. He then began playing his song “The Sounds of Sunshine,” which he said is about appreciating the sun. “I already broke a string,” he said through laughter before the song was over.

On stage with Franti was a band member from Spearhead, Jay, who played with him in each song and got the crowd hollering and clapping with his guitar solos. Together, they got many students on their feet dancing.

He also gave advice to WSU students. “Be your best,” he said, “and to be your best is to be who you are.”

Franti said it’s hard to figure out what he or she wants to do in the world. Addressing young people, he said, “You should find something you love and then read and talk about it all you can.”

To answer a student’s question, he said the most rewarding thing about his career is that he gets to do what he loves to do each day and can promote positivity through his music.

“A lot of us feel like ‘well, what can I do? I only have a certain set of skills,’ but it doesn’t matter if you’re a bookkeeper or a beekeeper — there’s something that you can do to give back.”

Another piece of advice he shared was “serve the greater good. Find something that’s bigger than you.”

Franti is involved with and supports several humanitarian organizations. He is an activist against poverty, and for education and human rights.

“We have an opportunity every day to make the world a better place,” Franti said.

Franti is an ambassador of the humanitarian organization called CARE. In an explanation of CARE on Franti’s website, it says this organization works to end poverty in the world by helping people to help themselves.

When asked how one could best help others to help themselves, Franti said the key is to “help girls,” because after women learn, then they teach their children and develop education, which is the key to ending the cycle of poverty.

Because Franti was an adopted child, he explained that he always felt like an “outsider.”

“I’ve always had a sense of empathy and compassion for those that feel different because of my childhood.”

He said that, through his music, he loves to make everyone feel included.

Franti explained how he chooses to vote for which political leaders. “I never endorse candidates; I endorse ideas.”

He added some advice on voting: “I don’t tell people who to vote for, but I will tell you this — be an informed voter.”

An informed voter, to Franti, is someone who wants to find answers and be part of answers to political issues, rather than someone who is “simply angry and will follow any zealot.”

His last piece of advice was to “rock out, wherever you are.”

By that statement, he explained, he means one should always appreciate life, and “celebrate as hard as you work.” He explained how he admired attributes of his grandmother, who had the ability to laugh even in the most difficult times.

Audience member and WSU student Karen Gonzalez said she thought there was a pretty good turnout to this convocation.

“I thought he did really well at engaging with the audience and that he was really down-to-earth,” Gonzalez said. “I really liked that.”

Referring to Franti’s music, she said, “I don’t really go for that type of music, but I loved his voice so much that I was captivated, and he was so good that I felt like I was listening to a CD.”

Gonzalez said she really liked his advice to be true to oneself. She said she feels that, in college, a lot of times people try to be somebody they aren’t, or censor themselves when they shouldn’t have to. She said she thinks it would make college much easier if people applied his advice.

Franti ended this convocation with his song “I’ll Be Waiting.”

The audience crowded the stage and afterward swarmed him and his band member while they gave autographs, joined in pictures and talked to fans.