Billboard asks artists why they're planning to vote on Nov. 6.
In the lead-up to the Nov. 6 midterm elections, Billboard reached out to artists across the musical spectrum with a simple request: Complete the phrase "I'm voting because..." Below is Spearhead leader Michael Franti's response, which touches on the world he wants his infant son to inherit and the democracy his father told him it was his responsibility to uphold. (As told to Gil Kaufman.)
The first thing that came to my mind is: because I give a shit. I care about what’s happening in our country right now and the effect it's having on the world and on my 4-week-old baby, who is in my arms right now. I’m worried. There was a time when I was in [1980s band] The Beatnigs, which was a really political punk rock band, and we did a tour of Europe. I came back from our 1988 tour and my dad read this article with me talking about some political issue and me criticizing the U.S. government and the president.
"You know what happened when you were over there? We had an election and you didn’t vote," [he said]. He gave me an old framed picture of the first black vote. "Do you know how many people died and fought for the opportunity for you to vote? There you are criticizing what’s going on, and you didn't show up!" That stuck with me ever since. I have empathy and I will sit there and lament and bemoan everything that’s happening with the state of our country right now. But as soon as you tell me you didn’t vote in the last election, I tune you out.