Rebel rocker Michael Franti has spent most of a lifetime as a musician activist with tough progressive politics and tough playlist titles like “Yell Fire!” and “Bomb the World.”
He’s been beloved on the tour circuit, and nowhere at the top of the charts.
The past year — and a sweet, danceable love song — have changed all that. He’s a YouTube sensation, and suddenly up there with Taylor Swift and Beyonce.
This hour, On Point: Michael Franti and the story of “Say Hey (I Love You).”
Michael Franti joins us from San Francisco. His new album is “All Rebel Rockers,” featuring the hit single “Say Hey (I Love You).” An outspoken peace activist, he’s been making his unique socially conscious blend of hip-hop, reggae, funk, and rock — and much more — for more than two decades. He and his band, Spearhead, will be touring with John Mayer in 2010.
Here’s the “Say Hey (I Love You)” video on YouTube:
And here’s Michael in concert singing “East to the West,” from the album “Yell Fire!”:
Our family LOVES Michael Franti, his music and messages. Plus, nothing gets our little guys going in the morning like “Everybody on the Move”. My sister and father first heard him in Park City, UT and lucky for us shared what a great find he is!
Posted by Megan Ostuni, on December 9th, 2009 at 10:25 am EST
I don’t know what I hate more, his music or his politics.
Posted by Louise, on December 9th, 2009 at 11:02 am EST
I love this song! Every morning that I drive through the beautiful woods of Vermont taking my son to child care, this song comes on my local alternative radio station and Kaden and I sing it at the top of our lungs! It is better than a cup of coffe in the am!
Posted by Michelle Salvador, on December 9th, 2009 at 11:12 am EST
My daughter introduced me to Michael Franti five years ago and I was lucky enough to see him perform (with my daughter) at Shelburne Farms last year. By far, my favorite lyricist, performer and activist. Keep ‘em coming!!!
Posted by Brenda Snow, on December 9th, 2009 at 11:14 am EST
Hey, Michael, thanks for all the great music! I’ve been listening since the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy – “California Uber Alles” is a sick cover, and I love “Water Pistol Man” too – maybe my favorite lately is “Thank You,” which reminds me of the stretched out jams on Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life.” Wonderful, wonderful sounds. Thanks and congrats!
Posted by Eric Blendermann, on December 9th, 2009 at 11:17 am EST
There was a song of his early on: “Hole in the Bucket”, maybe not for everybody it has a more distinct political message, especially for this time of year. Songs like ‘Say Hey’ are far too syrupy for my taste. It’s understandable that it has teenage appeal; I’m assuming the appeal is under 16, so a lot of money is being made.
Posted by Mee, on December 9th, 2009 at 11:18 am EST
Been listening to him since the Beatnigs and Disposable Heroes of HipHoprisy.
Ask him about “I Got Love For You”, a song he wrote for his son. Makes me cry every time I hear it.
Posted by Bart, on December 9th, 2009 at 11:22 am EST
Hey Michael, We love your music here in northern VT. I was a little concerned about you touring with John Mayer but have decided that as a concious person I need to trust your judgement. Keep up your great work, you are a pure light!!
Posted by Karen Gosselin, on December 9th, 2009 at 11:24 am EST
Micheal has been singing love songs to the world for a long time. He sings love songs to all the people out there who have no voice, who believe in peace, who have hope. You have taught me and so many others to stay human and to spread the love.
What does the female singer in “Say Hey (I Love You)” shout at the top of the song? Trying to figure it out is driving me nuts.
Posted by D, on December 9th, 2009 at 11:31 am EST
Wasn’t familiar with him so thanks. I like what I see and hear so far.
Posted by Jennifer, on December 9th, 2009 at 11:32 am EST
“Yell Fire” gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. It’s the best mix of music and message. Thanks to Michael for wonderful live shows with great music and happy memories for me and my husband. I was very moved by his movie “I Know I’m Not Alone.” Ask about Habibi!!
Posted by Katharine, on December 9th, 2009 at 11:32 am EST
I am curious to hear what Michael’s views are on music file sharing in a struggling Music Industry. And how he feels musicians should be compensated or if live shows are the only way Musicians can receive there dues??
Posted by Rory Arch, on December 9th, 2009 at 11:32 am EST
I’ve been a fan since the late 90’s when I moved to Maui and got turned on to Michael’s music. Yoga is integral in my life, and I hope Michael will talk about yoga in his life. Nikki and Eddie rock http://www.yogaonmaui.com/. Now I live in Tennessee and sure hope to see Michael at Bonnaroo 2010. Will you be there? Peace y’all!
Posted by Leela Robinson, on December 9th, 2009 at 11:33 am EST
Michael Franti reminds us with words and music that the most powerful force is the power of love. Dancing to Spearhead transforms a group of strangers into a family connected by the beat of the drum united by the beat of our hearts. Thank you Michael Franti!
Posted by Charlotte, on December 9th, 2009 at 11:36 am EST
Some of my favorite Michael Franti work is on the second “one giant leap” album which is really hard to get hold of. I had to download it from Australia. I wish more people knew about it. Thanks for your inspirational voice
Posted by Matt, on December 9th, 2009 at 11:37 am EST
Michael, you are the best – you talk the talk – sing the song – walk the walk and are bringing so much light and beauty to the world. Thank you for the great music, movies, yoga and travel to places that most of us can’t go to but need to know about. namaste
Posted by pamela, on December 9th, 2009 at 11:47 am EST
I just want to thank Michael Franti for his message through his music. Michael, you are a true gift to all who listen to you. Your music is positive, uplifting, promotes unity. I’ve been listening to you for over 7 years – you had me at “All the Freaky People make the beauty of the World!” The last time I saw you live was a few months ago and you had us all literally jumping up and down with excitement and everyone holding hands together. Beautiful beautiful beautiful! Keep passing your message through your wonderful music.
Posted by Dana Siles, on December 9th, 2009 at 11:49 am EST
Michael has a wonderful way of being upbeat without being “pollyanna”. He’s a master at this delicate balance of making us face the unpleasant while giving us the hope we need to keep going. Thanks Michael.
Posted by Tom Peterson, on December 9th, 2009 at 11:55 am EST
Hey, I love you. Just listened to the show and am now a huge fan, Michael has a fabulous energy! I can’t wait to learn more and to dance to his new hit!Why are you a well kept secret!
Posted by Colleen, on December 9th, 2009 at 12:12 pm EST
Not since Marley and Lennon has there been such a voice in music for social justice, peace, and love as Michael Franti. When I see Barack and Michelle dancing to “Yell Fire” or “Lies”, I’ll renew my hope that we will be okay!Thanks Michael!
Posted by Greg MacDonald, on December 9th, 2009 at 12:20 pm EST
If you are into issues about the sun and environment you might try reading the amazing book “EAT the SUN” by oliver morton
Posted by Bill Murphy, on December 9th, 2009 at 12:57 pm EST
I have been a fan of Franti since the “disposables”…and Spearhead has been the soundtrack of my soul in my adult life. Micheal is always coming with positive, thought provoking lyrics and fun rhythms. Forward ever, backward never! Thank you Micheal Franti and Spearhead. And thank you Tom for interviewing this positive individual.
I don’t know what I hate more, his music or his politics. Posted by
Just proves that conservatives have no soul or funk.
Posted by Pitney Swope, on December 9th, 2009 at 2:52 pm EST
Yeahhhhh……., this is why i LOVE “ON POINT”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tom, you are the bomb, because Michael and his music is the bomb!!!!!!!!
Love & Peace
Posted by justanother, on December 9th, 2009 at 3:00 pm EST
Just listen to his music and lyrics, he is a down to EARTH thinker, who is full of small love and big love, full of unique empathy and sympathy.
No human is a whole being without love, empathy, sympathy and compassion, only if you have this whole package, you would love his music.
Posted by Justanother, on December 9th, 2009 at 3:08 pm EST
I danced around the room on a daily basis to “Say Hey” with my daughter when she was first born, and it was fun for both of us. She’s about a year and a half old now, and she still knows all the words. We are both listening now!
Posted by Tara, on December 9th, 2009 at 3:24 pm EST
We were listening to Michael Franti last fall during the election. My 5 year old was singing one day & he was belting out “Obama Rockers” rather that “All Rebel Rockers.”
I just bought tickets for the John Mayer show in Louisville next March but not because of John Mayer. I want to see Michael again (saw him in August in Indianapolis).
We love Michael’s music!
Posted by Cheryl from Louisville, KY, on December 9th, 2009 at 3:27 pm EST
I love Michael Franti & Spearhead!!!!!! I’ve seen them perform 6 times and they are amazing!!!! next show 02/06/09!!! cant wait.
Posted by Frantinizing the world!!!, on December 9th, 2009 at 3:30 pm EST
Been a fan of Michael Franti since Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. Always loved his message and very happy that he has achieved success! I hope his new fans are spending the time to discover more of his excellent musical history.
Posted by Brian Wisti, on December 9th, 2009 at 3:31 pm EST
We are so blessed to have Michael and Spearhead’s music in this often dark world. We have made so many spearit friends over the last 5 years in which we’ve been to over 50 rebel rockin shows. We have been inspired and now try to inspire others. Love is invincible! Power to the peaceful!
Posted by Sarah Coolhead, on December 9th, 2009 at 3:35 pm EST
D: That female singer is Cherine Anderson. And several month ago, I asked her what she says…. her reply, “I say “Come dung selectah”…English translation “Come Down Selector” …my meaning “Drop the BIG tune selectah.”
I have been listening to MFSH for years! Love them. Though All Rebel Rockers is probably my least favorite album of them all. Stay Human probably is my favorite. But the message of peace and love Michael spreads is unparalleled. While I am happy that he is getting the word out, I am a little sad that he is now “mainstream.” But I too, like others, have purchased my rip-off John Mayer tickets in order to see maybe an hour of my favorite band on Earth! PEACE!
Posted by Chris, on December 9th, 2009 at 3:37 pm EST
Cheryl from louisville, KY…I hear ya’ The Florida Crew (14) are going to the show not beacause of John Mayer…as far as I know…I’m going to a MFSH show!!!! Listen to Michael Franti & Spearhead!!!! Let’s Frantinize the world!!! together through music!!!
Posted by Frantinizing the world!!!, on December 9th, 2009 at 3:51 pm EST
Hey Chris!!! The way I see it is “let’s all bite the bullet and spend a little bit extra $$$ for a TIX and dance, Jump together in harmony, peace and Love!!!
Posted by Frantinizing the world!!!, on December 9th, 2009 at 3:56 pm EST
I have “Everyone deserves music”, “Stay Human”, “Rebel Rockers”, “Songs from the front porch” (an acoustic version of his song collections), & “Yell Fire”, my overall favorite so far is “Everyone deserves music”, “Stay Human” & “Yell Fire”.
Some of his music are so funkyyyy……., so gooooooood……
Posted by justanother, on December 9th, 2009 at 4:08 pm EST
love it.. Can’t wait to see him in concert
Posted by Deja, on December 9th, 2009 at 4:13 pm EST
I saw one of his video, explaining why they started to write more upbeat music with same message, in order to reach wider range of listeners. And it is working.
His older music are more hardcore hip pop and funk, which I enjoy more. But if his upbeat music reaches more listeners and pass message of love & peace, i say “way to go”. But I hope he future still stay rooted, you know how “popularity” at times can kill raw talents and real art.
Posted by Justanother, on December 9th, 2009 at 4:16 pm EST
I first heard Michael Franti about 15 years ago with The Disposable Heros of Hiphopricy. His is a powerful, political voice. Good for him to get a bigger audience, he deserves it, and I hope he uses it to spread his message.
Posted by Fran Dunn, on December 9th, 2009 at 4:47 pm EST
Television, the drug of the nation…. 150 channels 24 hours a day, you can flip through all of them and still there’s nothing worth watching! Keeping rawking it Michael! PEACE!
Posted by Chris, on December 9th, 2009 at 5:03 pm EST
I first learned of Michael Franti when I was an Adult Literacy tutor some 10+ years ago. I was teaching from a series of learning magazines and videos, one of which featured his poetry/lyrics for “Hole in the Bucket”
I quickly became a fan of his music and his message. My 4-year old shares my love and knows all the words to “Hey World”
Keep it up. Your music and words move many!
Posted by Lynn Winchell_Mendy, on December 9th, 2009 at 5:32 pm EST
The woman is named Cherine Anderson and she says, “Come down, Selector.” That means, “come on and make us dance, DJ” in Jamaican, mon.
Michael is love. Spearhead is peace. All rebel rockers = big love.
Posted by Marie, on December 9th, 2009 at 5:45 pm EST
More people should hear Michael’s message — it’s one of tolerance, integrity and most importantly LOVE. He’s actually a person who lives by his convictions, a very talented singer and lyricist and just a fantastic person overall. Not to mention his social views are right on.
I love Michael!
Posted by Jeannie, on December 9th, 2009 at 5:49 pm EST
******Television, the drug of the nation…. 150 channels 24 hours a day, you can flip through all of them and still there’s nothing worth watching! Keeping rawking it Michael! PEACE!******
True, less is MORE.
Posted by justanother, on December 9th, 2009 at 5:52 pm EST
The female singer Cherine Anderson got a BIG bright voice. It is lots of fun and joy to see her in concert.
Posted by justanother, on December 9th, 2009 at 5:58 pm EST
Tolerance is the root of harmony.
We often mix up harmony with “getting alone”. It is great if we all get alone, but reality doesn’t play by that rule at times. Harmony does not mean we all have to be happy goers with each other. It means respect and tolerance when we found no common grounds.
Not only our differences, also other elements can contribute to violence and disrespect throughout human history. It seems since the dawn of human civilization, we have fought for 5000 thousands years, some attacked, some defended. Are we learning better how to solve problems without blood shed?? I don’t know if that’s really possible someday. By observing nature, even some wild life do the same things as we do to settle problems. Mother nature is the most violent force on this earth to settle for balance. Humm…… leaves me no answer.
Posted by justanother, on December 9th, 2009 at 6:37 pm EST
I’ve followed Michael for years—My favorite from way back is “hole in the bucket”.. I think that Michael is a inspiration for our times…he allows all of us reflect on how we are living our lives and gives us hope for a better tomorrow ..at the same time he has provided me amazing happiness and love at his concerts He has provided many like minded people a wonderful community to share thoughts, advice and positive energy. Thanks Michael and not to forget Spearhead–luv ya, Preston
Posted by Preston, on December 9th, 2009 at 6:53 pm EST
I have been listening to Michael for years and I am so glad he is getting the attention he deserves. If more people listened to his music this world would be a different place. Thank you On Point.
Posted by Brandy Kmetz, on December 9th, 2009 at 6:56 pm EST
I was THRILLED to hear you on my favorite NPR show. I wanted to call in today but was in class.
Well done with the song’s success.
and here’s me sending you good vibes for more success. <3
Music will neither change tho world nor will it change human nature. But have fun if it makes you feel good.
Posted by Twitter this, on December 9th, 2009 at 8:03 pm EST
Wow, I have to say I am loving the oneness here! this is what our world needs to bad theirs one person in all these post ( Louise ) that feels the need to spit in the love, where has your politics gotten this world and its people! I bet you voted for BUSH also my son did tow tour in Iraq and for what!
Posted by Tanja DuVall, on December 9th, 2009 at 8:04 pm EST
Micheal, is a beautiful voice for the people, one that I pray may continue for a very long time peace out to you all
Posted by Tanja DuVall, on December 9th, 2009 at 8:08 pm EST
Thank you so much for introducing me to this talented musician/guru. A good antidote for what ails the world. A good antidote for hate and judgmentalism. I’m a big John Mayer fan….can’t wait to hear them both in concert together.
Posted by Candace Clemens, on December 9th, 2009 at 8:49 pm EST
I’d heard Say Hey somewhere in passing and couldn’t find anyone in my social circles that knew it! I’m thrilled to find it and Michael Franti – can’t wait to explore more of his music!
Posted by Lisa Callaghan, on December 9th, 2009 at 9:00 pm EST
I love you, I love you, I love you Michael!! Congrats on everything and we are cheering you on here at DSHS! We’re proud you were a Blue Devil…
XOX The Attendance Lady
Posted by Christine, on December 9th, 2009 at 9:30 pm EST
I absolutely love Michael Franti. I’ve seen him several times in concert in the last few years and each experience was AMAZING.
Posted by Johanna, on December 9th, 2009 at 10:20 pm EST
I love Michael’s music, he spreads love & peace. I have been to several of his concerts and I love his yoga DVD. Power to the Peaceful!
Posted by Lynzie, on December 9th, 2009 at 10:52 pm EST
Michael, if I like what you wrote about social political issues with your frustration and anger from your heart, I also enjoy your uplifted joy for life and simple love from your heart.
As people grow older, we tend to become closer to the spirit of Tao. We approach things with less sharp edge, which enables us to achieve even greater things. And I hope all the people who enjoy your music and messages, will also appreciate your new approach, growth of wisdom as a musician and peace lover,
“If you sharpen yourself too much, you lose your edge” — Lao Tse (Taoism)
Long live love & peace for all life on earth.
Posted by justanother, on December 9th, 2009 at 11:51 pm EST
I WAS LISTENING IN MY CAR AND WAS CAPTIVATED BY HIS MUSIC. THE AMAZING THING IS HOW DID I MANAGE NOT TO HEAR HIM. MOSTLY I AM LISTENING TO CLASSICAL MUSIC AND A CURRENT FAVORITE IS THE FABULOUS RENDITION OF BACH’S GOLDBERG VARIATIONS PERFORMED BY SIMONE DINNERSTEIN. ACTUALLY THE ONLY MUSIC I REALLY DETEST IS RAP WHICH TO ME ISN’T MUSIC. BUT BACK TO THE FABULOUS VIDEO IN RIO. HIS POLITICAL VIEWS ARE SIMILAR TO MINE. ALTHOUGH I VOTED FOR OBAMA, NOW I FEEL BETRAYED. PAKISTAN HAS BEEN FIGHTING THE BORDER WAR FOR YEARS AND THEIR ARMY FEELS THAT NO AMOUNT OF TROOPS COULD CONTROL THE BORDER. OBAMA SHOULD LISTEN TO NICK ROBERTSON AND CHRISTIAN AMINPOUR INSTEAD OF THESE GENERALS. WE ARE NOT AND NEVER SHOULD BE THE POLICEMEN OF THE WORLD. LET US SAVE OUR COUNTRY FIRST. HE SHOULD LISTEN TO MARTIN LUTHER KING’S SPEECH FROM EBENIZER BAPTIST CHURT AND SUBSTITE AFGHANISTAN FOR VIETNAM. THE SOONER WE GET OUT OF THIS QUAGMIRE THE BETTER! LOIS TITHERINGTON
Posted by Lois Titherington, on December 10th, 2009 at 2:56 am EST
I too had never heard of Michael or his music and was completely captivated by his ideas such as going shoe less in solidarity with those who cannot afford shoes, and so much else of which Michael spoke. Tom’s on air conversation with Michael was mass media at its best.
Posted by Rosita Hopper, on December 10th, 2009 at 5:32 am EST
Beautiful being, beautiful music, amazing message and he’s hot! BLESSED WE ARE!!!!
I have been a Michael Franti & Spearhead fan for four years now. The first time I heard Ganja Babe and Oh My God live in UK version. I fell in love his music and the positive messages he puts out there. I have been to three live show and you can see the rang of fans that have been touch by this man, old, young, punk, prep, hippies. Stay Human! <3 & Love!
Posted by Bvaughan, on December 10th, 2009 at 8:48 am EST
Conservatives may not have soul or funk, but at least we have intelligence, common sense, and our original birth certificates. Ha!!
Posted by Louise, on December 10th, 2009 at 9:10 am EST
I got love for y’all!!! Power to the Peaceful!!!!
Posted by Frantinizing the world!!!, on December 10th, 2009 at 9:13 am EST
***** Conservatives may not have soul or funk, but at least we have intelligence, common sense, and our original birth certificates. Ha!!******
Intelligence is short term and can be destructive, wisdom is long term, wisdom is transcended from intelligence.
Progressive has long passed the stage of intelligence, we are working on our wisdom. You may need a little catching up here, my friend.
Posted by justanother, on December 10th, 2009 at 12:06 pm EST
I was turned on to Michael’s music by our son (thank you Steven!) and have been fortunate enough to have spent some time with him. He truly cares about each and every one of us!! He lives his life like we all should! He has helped me change my life completely! His music will lift you up when you need it, make you think about life and want to dance! Thank you Michael and all the band-keep us jumping and dancing!! Look up all the music you can and get ready to become addicted. Peace and love all
Posted by bette cleveland, on December 10th, 2009 at 12:07 pm EST
Thanks for the sample “Sound of Sunshine” from your upcoming album. I feel blessed you played this live for us in Flagstaff at The Orpheum. Your music keeps the life in my life. I’m going thru a dark time and this is exactly what I needed to hear today. Thanks! I love you, your band, your energy and your values.
Posted by Melissa K, on December 10th, 2009 at 12:16 pm EST
What do we call something possesses intelligence without a soul — a Robot??
Posted by justanother, on December 10th, 2009 at 12:19 pm EST
Re: To Louise, I would not be bragging about being a conservative, and calling it intelligence if you look back over time you would soon realize what a short coming this truly is. We humans have brains that if used to the fullest! can achieve Greatness without destroying a single thing or person. I would like to know Louise, were your great great grand parents are from or are you Native American and what tribe are you from you want to talk about birth certs!
Now on to justanother, you nailed it thanks for your Wisdom I am grateful I too would rather have wisdom sincerely Tanja
Posted by Tanja DuVall, on December 10th, 2009 at 3:12 pm EST
One more thing Louise, (common sense) let see here Bush war Iraq Afghanistan did he even go to school if it was about so call 911 then way did we go to Iraq?? common sense LOL your not a very good robot ether! when its your child over there then see how you think!
Posted by Tanja DuVall, on December 10th, 2009 at 3:21 pm EST
Wow, all the the liberals (socialists) are really P.O.’d. Well, with your phoney-baloney, lying, inept, deceitful, clue-less, misguided, demagogic, and stooge for a president (Barack Obama), failing so miserably, I can understand why your panties are all in knot. Adios fools.
Posted by Louise, on December 10th, 2009 at 5:52 pm EST
When I speak “Progressive”, I don’t speak for our politicians, I speak for our spirit and love for the world. Our compassion toward other living things on this earth, just as worthy as anyone we know of.
This forum is all about love, harmony and joy. Not about fighting.
Posted by Justanother, on December 10th, 2009 at 6:52 pm EST