Michael Franti ‘Power to the Peaceful’

“Scatter the peoples who delight in war” is a line out of the Psalms but it could have been a line from a Michael Franti song. A latecomer to his music, I was initiated last night, at the tale end of the Edmonton Folk-Fest.

Franti Franti, bare-footed, and looking a bit like what you might imagine an old testament prophet looks like, and sounding like one, (except of course when he does Sesame Street nostalgia) is a new anti-war voice that is hard to dismiss. Because even if you don’t like his incessantly pro-peace, avant-garde reggae-rock, he is someone who has pointed his body in the direction of his words and taken, as he puts it, “the risk of peace.”

He’s gone to Iraq, sung on the streets of Baghdad, sung in Palestine and Israel, and because he supports troops–but not the war–he has sung to U.S. soldiers.

He’s not na├»ve about the complexities of conflict. You get the impression that he’s a listener and that as a result knows where to aim. He’s able to discern the big systems that delight in the dividends of war from the those of us caught up by them.

I grew up in the wake of “Universal Soldier” and “For What It’s Worth,” but I’m trying to think of anybody since Peter, Paul and Mary, Buffy Saint Marie, occasionally Dylan and Neil Young, that’s been as unshakably single-minded in trying to undo war and violence.

Franti, energetic, disarming, a presence, a hot band, danceable message-music, and a following, plus a realistic grasp on the Iraqi war…will he make a difference?


  1. Writers and musicians and artists and activists and all kinds of people swimming against the flow do have to believe that, don’t they? If we didn’t, we’d stop writing and singing and doing what we’re doing and we’re doing it because we know giving up on hope is definitely NOT going to make a difference….so we keep speaking out hoping that maybe with enough little bits coming together something will in fact make a difference… And either way, weren’t we so lucky to be there, with all those voices and tunes and rhythms and smiles on the weekend? Wasn’t all the fun like breathing hope? I’ve been a touch cranky this morning with the grind (just a touch, probably just wanting the party to go on), so thanks for the reminder!

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