The music of Michael Franti and Spearhead have punctuated and embellished the monumental moments in my life for the past 14 years. They were there on the day that my husband, Jim, and I met and Jim tried to get my number while I assured him that his friends had it if he really wanted it. They were there when I was 36 weeks pregnant with my first child. Michael sang, “But I know- one thing- that I love you, baby girl. I love you, I love you, I love you” and I knew in that moment that my baby would be a girl. And most recently, they were there to help me celebrate LIFE with Jim and some dear friends, by granting me a wish through the Do It For The Love Foundation.
Do It For the Love is a foundation that Michael and his wife, Sara Agah, began in an effort to “grant live concert music wishes to people living with life-threatening illnesses, children with severe challenges and wounded veterans. It is our mission to spread the healing power of music that inspires hope, joy and healing. We help our recipients – and their close community of family, friends and caretakers – build lasting memories.” I love that this foundation allows the recipient to revel in the creativity that drives the founder.
And boy, did they ever deliver.
I will never forget my night with Michael Franti and Spearhead… As you all know, I’ve been dealing with my Stage IV Breast Cancer diagnosis every day and working hard to stay on the bright side of life, live with positivity and not let petty inconveniences weigh me down. I think that Michael shares this view of life with me. His songs are messages of love, light and deep, soulful appreciation for the simple moments in life that surround us.
Michael feels deeply. When tragedy strikes, he addresses it with love and compassion. He denounces hate. He brings people together because he, like me, knows that the power of our love combined is stronger than any other force on the planet. He loves and he loves and he loves and he loves… because to do anything else would feed hate and negativity. So, when he searched for a cause to support, bringing happiness, joy and healing through the power of music seemed the obvious focus for this multitalented and magnanimous musician. His foundation is a natural extension of the message he delivers in his songs.
We went to the Michael Franti and Spearhead concert 4 days after the Orlando Massacre. It was Pride Week and Michael and the band participated in some of the Pride events. He lifted up the LGBTQ community by simply showing up and saying, we are here. He was present to grieve the massacre and to celebrate Pride. Michael spoke of the devastating massacre in Orlando. He said, “No one should live in fear of being their authentic self” which is a “big T” Truth statement. He honored both the direct victims of the massacre as well as those who have been spiritually and emotionally affected. “Turn towards love,” he said. “Turn towards love.”
I have not had to live in fear of being my authentic self. I am white, middle class, cisgendered, heterosexual. I have floated through this life, with a collection of struggles that I’ve easily overcome with the right dose of therapy. I don’t pretend to understand what it is like to be discriminated against on an ongoing basis. But try this: Imagine you are fire. Your flame can get brighter or begin to burn out. When the flame of your authentic self is dimmed in any way, mustering up the energy to burn bright can take everything you have and it is helpful to have people along the way to fan your fire. Cancer sidled up to my campsite and built it’s own fire and it’s been trying to burn brighter than my original fire. Cancer added an identifier I never wanted. I am now, the Maggie with Breast Cancer. I have to work hard to keep my own fire burning bright, so I am not eclipsed by the heat of my diagnosis. The stronger the fire from my authentic self, the more radiant the heat. I wonder if my fire burns so bright because of or in spite of the cancer’s fire. Regardless, MY fire must be stronger.
He went on to celebrate the evening. His music points out all of the fucked up things that happen in the world, but he offers a solution to cope with those things, and that is to love, to dance, to smell the roses, per se. Like this:
This world’s gon’ out of control again
Like every second when I pick up my phone again
I know this story about a person that the government is messing with
And tell me what’s the story of a terrorist
And in the ocean is the oil still just killing fish
And corporations who are buying up the politics. We’ve lost our minds….
And if we all go crazy
Then I wanna go crazy, crazy with you
I attended this concert due to the cold, hard fact that I have Stage IV Breast Cancer- that shit is heavy- but it was an incredible evening. We hung out backstage and met Michael. I traded t-shirts with him (he and his wife are theproud owners of a #maggiesbrightside t-shirt -get yours by clicking on the link!). Jim and Michael hugged it out. I danced and jumped in my platform sandals for hours. It took my legs a week to recover. I sang with my husband and my friends and my new little buddy, Dylan, and his family, while we remained on the stage for the entire show. I sang “I’m Alive” with Michael into the actual microphone in front of thousands of people.
And the crowd went wild.
At the end of the concert, in lieu of an encore, the band turned on a recording of “Imagine” by John Lennon and everyone in the venue wrapped their arms around one another and swayed to the music while singing together. It was comforting to see a leader take control of what he can to try and heal the world. Those things up there that he sings about? The Orlando Massacre. Those are things none of us can control. Horrible things are happening. “This world’s gone out of control again.” But what we can control is our response and how we live.
Turn towards love. Do it for the love. Be love. Michael and his band; they do this. They are love. I do my best to be love too and I try and surround myself with people who do the same. That night, in Portland, ME, it was all love. And I still had breast cancer, but it was okay because I was dancing on a stage with Michael Franti and my besties.
But what if this song’s number one
Would it mean that love had won?
Would it mean that the world was saved?
And no guns are being drawn today?
What if everybody had a job?
And nobody had to break a law?
What if everyone could say