In the Moment

A daily dose of Michael Franti

‘It’s one thing to write a song that just says, ‘Fuck the government,'” says singer-songwriter Michael Franti, “but it’s another thing to write a song that helps people get up every day and be inspired to become a difference-maker in the world.”

In that vein, “Once a Day,” Franti’s latest single (and the name of his current tour), invites listeners to contemplate the importance of each second, minute and hour of the day. The concept came to Franti when his 16-year-old son was diagnosed with kidney disease in 2014. The musician feared it would tear his family apart, but instead it brought great strength and peace to the family, as they confronted the possibility of a dire loss.

“We should let people that we care about, know,” says Franti. “You never know when it could all end. So we thought [Once a Day] would be a great name for a tour, [and] every day during this tour, we are spreading that message.”

His son’s condition has improved, and father and son now enjoy concerts together. They share a sense of elation in those moments, says Franti, when the worries of the past, present and future are suspended in time. Together, the pair have gained a deeper gratitude for life.

Franti has been playing music with Spearhead since 1994. The band fuses hip-hop with reggae, funk, rock, folk and jazz. He’s a longstanding advocate for social justice, environmentalism and peace, and his audiences get the message.

Franti recently saw a woman crying in the audience one night during a concert. Franti spoke with her after the show, and she told him that his music had helped her deal with a painful loss. It’s not all talk. Over the past two years, Franti’s Do It for the Love organization has provided free concerts to more than 500 families dealing with life-threatening illnesses.

Franti recently performed “Once a Day” at the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday party in Anaheim. He once had thoughts of following in the Dalai Lama’s footprints, but realized that cutting off his dreadlocks and taking a vow of celibacy was not needed to make a difference.

“It’s your heart,” Franti says, that makes all the difference.