• By: OLM Staff

Michael Franti: Shoeless and Soulfull

Photos supplied by the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival. 

“However do you get on airplanes? Do you just bypass the no shirt, no shoes, no service policy?” I asked Michael Franti, intrigued by the no footwear lifestyle he has lived for 16 years.

The musician and activist chuckles for a moment before saying he began shedding his sneakers when he started visiting countries where many in the population couldn’t afford shoes. It’s just another way he has become one with the people, offering fans not only positive music with an uplifting message but also pieces of what moves him, ignites the passion and drive to add to the world wherever he goes even if getting there is sometimes hindered by airport security.

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Michael Franti headlines the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival on July 2.

If you’ve never heard a Franti song I'd suggest you store up a mix for those days when your soul is filled with clouds. The singer’s 2010 release best describes his music: it’s The Sound of Sunshine. In an effort to give more of what his songs express, in 2013 he embarked on a 35 city tour where fans not only got to see a show but also was able to participate in a mass yoga session. The musician practices daily and it was something he deeply felt connected to that he wanted to share with his audience.

By his own definition, Franti is a Soulrocker, a person who lives from their heart with a compassion for all and a tenacious love for music, life and the planet. It’s also the name of his new album.

“I make the music that makes me feel good. I don’t think about what the radio station wants or what the record label wants,” he tells Ottawa Life before the Soulrocker tour rolls into Ottawa on July 2 for a show at the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival.

“I think the most important thing I’m trying to convey in my songs is that no one should live in fear of being their authentic self.”

You can hear more of our interview with Michael Franti by clicking below. OLM reporter Andre Gagne and the musician discuss his jazz influences, activism, his yoga sessions, more on how he adapted to his no footwear lifestyle, as well as his feelings on how music can change the world and what he hopes to accomplish through his own songs.

“All of us have the potential to be difference makers in the world,” he says. “I hope that my music carries that message and inspires people to go out and be those difference makers.”

Download an MP3 of this interview here.

During the interview Franti, a vegetarian, shared one of his favourite summer meals. Here’s how you can make Franti Beans & Rice:

  • Start by sautéing finely chopped garlic and onions in olive oil
  • Add salt and cilantro
  • Sauté rice in half of the above
  • After place rice in a pot to boil
  • Place beans in the rest of the sauté mix and sitr
  • Put beans in a pressure cooker to cook

Accentuate the meal with a fruit based salad:

  • Combine mango and avocado with lemon and dill
  • Add a bit of salt
  • Add some olive oil

Franti recommends putting some hot sauce on top of the mix


Ottawa Life’s Festival City Series will provide a unique look at some of your favourite summer events.We’ll go beyond the music with artist interviews, volunteer profiles, concert reviews and spotlights on the tastes, sights and sounds of the festival season. Your city! Your festivals! Your summer! Like a good sunscreen, Ottawa Life has you covered.

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