Can Music Change the World?

Last Friday my husband and I attended a Michael Franti & Spearhead show, with Nattali Rize as the opener. We were so excited to attend because I love Michael Franti and my Love loves Nattali Rize. The show was supposed to be outside, but due to weather was moved indoors… inside a local high school.

And – at first – it was awkward.

If you aren’t familiar, Franti & Rize are vegan, Marley inspired artists, who promote world peace and ONE LOVE. The first moment of awkward was when I walked up to the pizza stand (a table with delivery pizza in a box on a lopsided table in the hall of lockers of the high school) and asked for a piece of pizza. The young person – no older than 17 – at the table said they were all about of cheese, but had pepperoni and some of the pepperoni had just a little on it…  I once was on a date with my now husband and cried because the waitress brought me a salad covered in bacon. I’m certainly not a preachy vegetarian, but I don’t want bacon on my salad. You eat what you want. I will be baconless, thank you very much.

So, we stepped outside and found a locally owned restaurant with delicious  food that wasn’t covered in bacon, and made our way back to the show.

When Nattali walked out, I was mesmerized. We listen to her music a lot at our house. My three-nager LOVES a good dance party, and Nattali’s music – with its positive, upbeat messages, and amazing dance appeal – never disappoints.

What was disappointing, though, is the whole audience sat in their uncomfortable high school auditorium chairs and barely seemed to notice. Me being me, and not afraid to call attention to myself, I stood up to dance a few times, but no one else followed suit. I was flabbergasted. I simply cannot believe this room of people couldn’t move to appreciate the music they were hearing. I kept thinking about how the room full of people couldn’t appreciate this young woman – who began her career as a street percussionist. I kept thinking about how different I perceive myself from “those people”. My legs began to hurt because they wanted to get up and dance so badly. I was embarrassed for the whole audience.

Finally, Nattalie had everyone stand up and yell for an 8-bar measure. Everyone did it. Then, since everyone was standing, she had everyone jump (aka… dance… like hippy dance – swaying and moving to the rhythm to her next song. She began talking about a time when someone asked her if music could change the world. Her response, “Dude. It does” and I cried a little. And I danced, and danced, and danced.

Michael didn’t disappoint either. When he first came out, he made a point to thank the heavens for the rain – noting that if a show is moved inside and there isn’t rain there is always a lot of talk about why the show was moved inside. He made a point to include the children in the audience in his performance, and danced and sang in the aisles and on the balcony.  Audience members were able to high five him and give him hugs, and some even sang into the mic. There was even a proposal on the stage.

My heart fluttered and fluttered. I felt so warm, and surrounded by love. And every few songs Michael would pause to share a story about being an orphan and his adopted family, or about a couple who proved to him love is more important than a disease (Michael is collecting donations and nominees for his Do it for the Love Foundation. Please support it!)  or to note that we were all celebrating music in the same place at the same time – and that has a great deal of power.

And I forgot my frustrations with the audience who I was sure to differentiate myself from earlier in the evening. I realized the couple in front of me who each had their cameras out the entire time – distracting all behind them from the show – were likely trying to remember this day for years to come. I realized the man who tried to cut us in line at the merch table was simply as excited to be there as we were and left his manners at home. I noted the man behind us whose little girl was crying as she fell asleep in his arms, and I asked if there was anything I could do to help. I, finally, felt connected to this group of people who.

I realized how quickly I thought, “THAT’S NOT ME” when I felt different from the people at the show. I was so proud to note (after the fact) that weren’t all that different after all. They also came out to a high school auditorium to enjoy an evening of music created by incredible artists. They, too, want peace and love and music to save the world. They, too, danced their asses off once they were ready.

If only we could all remember that music changes the world every day. If only we could all remember how it feels to be a group of awkward people sitting in an auditorium wishing to dance… then dancing and remembering the world isn’t so scary after all.


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