It was a special cause that brought Michael Franti and Spearhead to The Long Center on Thursday, September 20th. The band headlined Music for the Soul 2012 benefiting Kids in a New Grove (K.I.N.G.), a non-profit organization that provides private one-on-one music mentorship to kids in the Texas foster care system.
Franti’s personal experience as a youth in foster care brought special meaning to his concert performance that night. He was born to an Irish-German-French mother and an African-American and American-Indian father in Oakland but was later adopted by a Finnish-American couple who raised him along with their three biological children and another African-American son.
Music is very personal to Franti, but he seems to have created a sound and a message that resonates with everyone—an inspiring blend of hip hop, funk, reggae, jazz, folk and rock.
Franti says, “Music is something you can’t hold in your hands, smell it, taste it or even see it, yet somehow just coming together and feeling these little vibrations that tickle our eardrums can somehow lift us all up out of our most difficult moments in life to unimaginable heights.”
Through a connection with music, K.I.N.G. works to provide the lessons and tools needed for a successful future among the youth in the Texas foster care system. As part of their music mentorship program, students take a variety of music lessons, perform an annual recital and have the opportunity to make live recordings in a professional recording studio. Students are also presented with a brand new musical instrument which they earn from practicing and meeting program goals. All of this is provided at no cost to the student or foster family.
Despite a difficult youth, music fills the hearts and minds of students with the hope and possibility of a brighter future. As K.I.N.G.’s mission states, “lessons become a lifeline to a better future.” So far, over 350 Texas youth in foster care have benefited by building confidence, making lasting friendships, improving grades and attending college.