Black Excellence: Michael Franti

By Becca Howe, TRJ Parent


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Michael Franti (@michaelfranti)

Michael Franti is an American singer-songwriter, poet, activist and documentarian known for his socially conscious music. His work spans several genres including hip hop, reggae, jazz, folk and rock. Franti was born in Oakland, California, in 1966, the biological son of Mary Lofy and Thomas Hopkins. He was adopted shortly after birth by white parents Carole Wisti and Charles Franti, who had four other children—one adopted and three biological—and raised their children in the diverse and multi-cultural Oakland, California.

Franti talks openly about his adoption, and says that the experience has profoundly influenced his understanding of identity, belonging and social justice. Growing up bi-racial in a predominantly white family challenged his sense of identity, and fostered a deep sense of empathy and awareness for racial and cultural issues.

You may know Franti from his 2008 single, “Say Hey (I Love You)” which became a major hit and showcased his ability to create infectious, uplifting music. He produced and directed the film, “I Know I’m Not Alone,” which documented his travels through war-torn regions and the power of music to heal.

Franti met his biological father for the first time when he was 22 years old, and says about his biological father that he was wicked smart, and was the first African American researcher in the lab that developed the birth control pill. He remembers his first father as being socially awkward and not always emotionally present. He didn’t get to have his biological father with him on a daily basis growing up like he did with his adoptive father, but Franti says he feels his biological father inside, and has developed an understanding that in this way he has always had his father with him.

Franti is known for his warm and engaged stage presence and has dedicated his life to promoting messages of unity, positivity and generosity. In interviews he has spoken about the positive and supportive environment his adoptive parents provided and the importance of acceptance and love at home, which is reflected in his art.