Michael Franti is granting wishes for the love
AMERICAN singer-songwriter Michael Franti is spreading "hope, healing and love through music".
Besides the new album he's working on and touring his Soulshine festival - a mix of yoga, live music and dancing - he has also launched the Do It For The Love Foundation in Australia.
The global not-for-profit wish-granting foundation allows people who suffer life-threatening illnesses to attend a live concert and meet their music stars.
"We find people in advanced stages of life-threatening illnesses, children with severe child abuse and wounded veterans to (send to) live concerts," Franti says.
"Through the healing power of music, our goal is to inspire joy, hope and lasting celebratory memories in the face of severe illness or trauma," adds Franti's partner, Sara Agah.
It started after the couple met a fan with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known in Australia as motor neuron disease.
"This man came to one of my shows. He had written to me because he's dying of ALS," Franti remembers.
"That was to be the last concert that he would ever attend and he wanted to meet me. After we met, we took him with us and he danced on stage. It was a really beautiful moment."
Franti and Agah decided to do the same for as many people as they could. That was the start of the Do It For The Love Foundation, which has allowed more than 250 families to attend concerts in America. Wishes can be granted for any live concert, not just Franti's.
"We contact the artists, managers and venues to get those people out to their favourite artist's shows," he says.
In some cases, if the artist or manager does not comply with the request, Franti and Agah buy the tickets. The foundation has recently expanded to Australia and Canada.
"We had two wishes granted to see Michael Franti and Spearhead in Melbourne last April by Ian, a man living with ALS, and Jackie, a little girl living with brain injuries and daily seizures," Agah says.
Franti encourages Australians to support the foundation.
"You can volunteer, host a local fundraiser of your own, nominate someone who is eligible, spread the work and word of the foundation on Facebook and donate online."
Michael Franti will perform at Bluesfest in April. For details visit http://www.bluesfet.com.au.
Music blends with yoga
SOULSHINE is Michael Franti's latest music project.
It combines his long-term passion for yoga, collaborating and jamming with fellow musicians, and live performances.
Bluesfest 2015 punters will have access to a one-off mass yoga session for one hour by Duncan Peak, pioneer of contemporary yoga and founder of Power Living Australia Yoga, a passionate yogi, philosopher, author and surfer.
The event will be a fun experience and not a formal yoga class, Franti explains.
"Soulshine is a very playful yoga experience for all levels, even beginners, with a singing and dancing jam," he says.
Franti explained that Soulshine started with the yoga class, with an acoustic music background played by him and his guitar player Jay Bowman.
"People who want to try yoga for the first time can come out and give it a go, but if you just want to listen to some acoustic music that's fine too."
Franti is a big yoga enthusiast.
"I've been practising yoga for the last 13 years now, and it has helped me in every aspect of my life," he says.
"As the years go by and with the touring, my body takes a toll and holding a guitar is a very awkward way to stand, so yoga has helped me to be in better shape but also helped me to be more focused and more aware of complex situations in my life."
After the class Franti, Trevor Hall and Soja play a full set each.
Hall is an American singer, songwriter and guitarist. His music is a mix of reggae, acoustic rock and Sanskrit chanting.
Soja is an American reggae and dub band.
"We did the Soulshine Tour in America for the first time (last) year and it I'm very happy about the fact that Trevor Hall and Soja are also joining us in Australia," Franti says.
Bluesfest director Peter Noble saw the Soulshine event Franti organised in Bali and asked him to bring the event to Byron Bay.
"We love the idea and we're super excited to be able to bring it to Australia," says the singer.
The next Soulshine Bali event is scheduled for October this year.
Franti also co-owns a yoga retreat in Ubud, Bali, called Soulshine.
Soulshine will be part of Bluesfest 2015 and will be held on Easter Monday, April 6, at Tyagarah in Byron Bay. For details visit http://www.bluesfest.com.au.