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Healing Music

Michael Franti shares the power of music

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FOR THE LOVE Michael Franti's nonprofit brings people with serious illnesses to concerts of their choice.
  • FOR THE LOVE Michael Franti's nonprofit brings people with serious illnesses to concerts of their choice.

For fans around the globe, San Francisco–based songwriter Michael Franti is beloved for his generous spirit and great music. The frontman of Spearhead for 20 years, Franti effortlessly moves musically between hip-hop, funk and soul, and his live shows are moving communal experiences.

The last year has also shown the philanthropic side of Franti, who co-founded the Do It for the Love Foundation, a wish-granting nonprofit organization that brings people with life-threatening illnesses, wounded veterans and children with severe challenges to see live concerts with the artists of their choice.

Franti and his partner, ER nurse and relief worker Sara Agah, were inspired to start the foundation after meeting Steve and Hope Dezember in April 2013. Steve was living with the advanced stages of Lou Gehrig's disease and it was his wish to see Franti in concert. Franti invited the couple to a show and brought them onstage, where Hope lifted Steve out of his wheelchair and held him as they danced together in front of thousands of fans.

Franti was so moved by the couple and the experience of the concert that he and Agah decided to give that opportunity to as many people as they could. They started Do It for the Love in August 2013, and to date it has fulfilled more than 200 wishes, nearly all of which have included artist meet-and-greet experiences and VIP access.

In times of crisis for families, these experiences offer a chance to connect and bond while making some truly positive lifelong memories and reveling in the healing power of music, which Franti feels is a real phenomenon. Apparently, he's not alone on that theory, and participating artists like Jay-Z and Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Tom Petty, Paul McCartney and others have donated their time, inspired by Franti's efforts.

The nonprofit's name is based on a song from Franti's 2013 album, All People. His eighth album with Spearhead, Franti's latest is a slick pop record with equal parts jam band melodies and hip hop beats, with elements of techno and reggae thrown in to an album that saw Franti opening up his songwriting with a more collaborative approach.

Franti is currently working on a new album, and this fall he is taking to the stage in a special acoustic solo tour. He has already sold-out two North Bay shows at the Mystic Theatre in Petaluma. If you know someone who could benefit from Do It for the Love, you can nominate them on the foundation's website, www.doitforthelove.org.

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