Alum Michael Franti, Leader of Spearhead, Expands His Sonic Palette

Friday, June 19, 2015
CHICAGO TRIBUNE -- Drawing from reggae, soul, funk and rock, Franti figured out how to express angry emotions in a way that united amphitheater crowds. “We can bomb the world to pieces, but we can’t bomb it into peace,” he sings on 2003’s “Bomb the World,” a lighthearted, mid-tempo pop song that recalls Bob Marley and Johnny Nash. “Dance music and music with meaningful lyrics are usually at two ends of the spectrum, and to bring them both together is challenging — to find a way that you can say something resonant to someone else's life, apart from ‘this is the greatest night, let’s live life to the fullest,’” he says. Eventually, he landed at the University of San Francisco on a basketball scholarship, although he found himself drawn more to the bohemian Haight-Ashbury district and political rallies than practices. When he transferred to San Francisco State University to focus on art and music, his father disowned him.