The Sound of Sunshine
Right off the bat, I'm going to tell you that this week's headline for the World Music Show (airing 2/11) could be thought of as an oxymoron, or at best, a cruel trick for your ears. How so, you say? Well, in hour two of this week's show, I'm highlighting a few songs from Michael Franti & Spearhead.
If you're not familar with Franti, let's just say that using the metaphor of "Sunshine" in juxtaposition with Franti's name is not usually spoken or written. Franti, who is from Oakland, Ca, is thought of as a political musician with strong opinions. He has no problems making his voice and thoughts known on an array of touchy subjects. This is the singer who updated the song California Über Alles by the L.A. punk band The Dead Kennedys by adding biting lyrics about then California Governor Pete Wilson.
However, Franti, is often called an American poet. He was born in Oakland, California to an Irish-German-French mother and an African-American and Native American father. However, his mother made an adoption plan for him because she was afraid her family would not accept him. So, he was adopted by a Finnish-American couple in Oakland, who had three biological children and two adopted African American sons. You could say that World Music was already running through his veins.
Franti's style blends hip hop with a variety of other styles including funk, reggae, jazz, folk, and rock. And, he's also an outspoken supporter for a wide spectrum of peace and social justice issues, which is where his lyrics and outspokeness can be seen by those outside of the music industry as controversial or abrasive.
So why "Sunshine?" Well, it's easy really--it's the name of his latest CD and, like the title says, it's filled with sounds of sunshine--really. I'll feature a couple of upbeat songs off that CD, as well as a song off a Six Degrees compilation CD. With these three tracks, you'll be able to get a good picture of Franti and his music.
Other highlights from this week's show include another tribute to the late Cape Verdean singer Cesaria Evora, as well as some tracks from the Gipsy Kings, David Byrne and Dan Zanes, who sings a Scottish classic with former 10,000 Maniacs singer Natalie Merchant.
Plus, I'll play a couple new tracks off the new Putumayo release called "Brazilian Beat," which highlights the independent music scene happing in Brazil. You'll hear Maros Valle and Monica Da Silva, who was actually born in Grand Rapids, Mi. And, we'll hear more from the group Uniao Black, which play some really rocking/funky Brazilian music. Also, you'll hear some songs from places like Italy and Turkey, too.
Besides Franti, there is one artist I want you to make sure you listen for--it's someone who I've only been able to play once or twice on the World Music Show. It's Elvis Costello. How does he fit on the show? Well, one of his first songs, "Watching the Detectives," actually had a reggae beat drumming in the background. I kid you not--Elvis has even said so in interviews. So, like a good detective, I wanted to share it with you, so we could listen and decide together.
All in all, it's going to be a fun show to tune in for. The World Music Show aires Saturday nights at 10:00 p.m. on WCVE Public Radio, or online at: ideastations.org/radio. You can also follow my exploits and recommendations on Twitter. Look me up, @wcveworldmusic.