Backstage Moments: Park City | Michael Franti & Spearhead

Before every show, I spend time backstage warming up with a guitar, my voice and my songs. I don’t have anyone particular vocal ritual, except to listen to how my voice feels. Not how it sounds, but how it feels.

Some days it’s really tired and I honestly prefer to let it rest rather than do an extensive warm up. Other days I do some scales or what I call siren sounds, a continuous drone of toning from low to high and high to low. Most of the time, I just sing songs that we are going to do that night, to practice and to teach my voice to sing and play them better.

Carl Young and I will go over the harmonies together or if it’s a brand new song we’ll practice playing the chords and remembering the words at the same time, which isn’t always easy for me until they become second nature after dozens of attempts. I find the best way to learn a new song is to go on stage and play it live. The adrenaline kicks in and it forces me to focus on remembering the words. I often bumble the first few times I play it (like I did at last night’s show at O.P. Rockwell!). It also helps me to find the highs, lows, sweet spots and words to highlight, as well as see which parts the audience sings along to (or doesn’t, ha!).

I don’t consider myself a “naturally gifted” singer; it’s been hard work going from a shy voiced teen to a rapper who used no melody, to someone who sings raps and plays guitar every night. I’m blessed to have been surrounded by people like my bass player Carl Young and others who’ve encouraged me; I am also grateful for those who told me “you’ll never be good at this,” which gave me the inspiration to keep going. I remember getting a record review 20 plus years ago that said, “Franti is like Public Enemy’s Chuck D and singer/poet Gil Scott Heron, except he can’t rap nearly as well as Chuck or sing half as good as Gil!” ―Both true by the way!

Ever since that time I’ve done two things: 1. practiced being myself and finding my own voice and 2. haven’t read a review since!!! Park City thanks for three great shows!!!

Head over to the SOULROCKER FAM FACEBOOK GROUP and post a comment about how you prepare for the work or creativity you do!