It’s 85 degrees at 10 p.m. on yet another uneventful Friday night, and Michael Franti finds himself exactly 8,327 miles from his San Francisco home.

And, in his words, it’s nothing short of surreal.

“We came to the little hotel we own for a yoga retreat and while we were there, the entire world changed,” Franti, 53, tells PEOPLE from Bali, where he, his wife Sara and their 19-month old son Taj continue to self-isolate since the travel lockdown stranded them on the Indonesian island. “I’m still not sure what the heck has happened.”

View this post on Instagram Baby Taj makes quarantining a lot more fun and he definitely keeps us all on our toes. @saraagahfranti and I look at him every day and just think – wow we made this little dude together (although I can’t take much credit for the building part, that’s entirely Sara’s handiwork). These days he picks up everything and it goes straight into his mouth, so we follow him around all day long making sure he’s not choking or putting whatever dirt ball he’s found inside of him. I’ve always dreamed that some part of his childhood would be spent in Bali, where sticks, frogs, mud, flowers, insects, rain, tree ripened fruit and plenty of sunshine are a daily appearance. I smile when at the end of the day he’s covered in soil, has twigs to be plucked from his hair or is covered in the sticky bright purple of Dragon Fruit. He also loves to dance, do yoga, eat smoothie bowls and generally explore his world. We let him find his edges. If we see that he’s safely going to fall, we let him fall so he can learn to recalibrate next time. We keep his nap, meal times and bed times on a pretty close schedule and do the same pattern of brushing teeth, reading books and singing songs before bed time. Since we’ve been in Bali he’s been sleeping in the Sme bed as us (open the comment flood gates) but it’s what works for us during this time away from home and so that’s the way it is. I’ve been feeling stressed and for sure Baby Taj feels that so all the more reason to love him up in this crazy time. My two grown sons Cappy and Ade’ are both amazing people and I honestly thought I was done doing early childhood parenting when they left the house and so it with great happiness, tiredness, always on the alert responsiveness, laughter, tears, worry and relief that I get to spend a bunch of each day with this little man. Time that I otherwise would have less of if we weren’t on quarantine. #silverlinings @stayhuman #fatherandson @soulshinebali #bali Comment on one of the positives of your quarantine!

A post shared by Michael Franti (@michaelfranti) on Apr 13, 2020 at 5:45pm PDT


The globally recognized musician, humanitarian and award-winning filmmaker has long been known for his optimistic attitude, his high-energy shows, his philanthropic efforts and his inspiring music. But even for Franti, the days since coronavirus unexpectedly landed on our collective doorsteps has been somewhat challenging.

“This thing is affecting every single person on the planet,” says Franti, who has topped the Billboard charts with hopeful hits such as “Sound of Sunshine” and “Say Hey (I Love You).” “I know two people who have died of COVID-19 and I know others dealing with some really serious complications. Honestly, I have battled anxiety and depression in my adult life, and I was concerned that this would really push me in that black hole that I couldn’t pull myself out of.”

But according to Franti, the exact opposite has happened.

“It’s awakened myself to really … feeling, you know?” he says. “It’s about crying on the couch with my wife and being okay. It’s about floating in this ocean of unknown right now and knowing that we are okay. No one has the answers, but I can experience that and still be okay.”

And it’s this message that Franti has now made it his mission to share with his throngs of fans through songs such as “How We Living” & “I’m On Your Side,” both which serve as his first new music from his forthcoming studio album Work Hard and Be Nice.

“My musical message has always been the same … it’s always been optimism,” says Franti, who will release his new album on June 19. “What we are being asked to do right now is to wake up and try to be your best. Serve the greater good. Stay home. Put positivity out in the world. And above all, rock out. Never lose the fun that comes with living.”

Certainly, it’s this message that Franti also hopes he will be able to deliver to hundreds of thousands of people when he returns to the stage alongside Kenny Chesney as part of his Chillaxification Tour later this year.

“I love Marvin Gaye and Willie Nelson and of course Kenny Chesney for the fact that through their music, they tell you what’s in their heart and your heart,” says Franti, whose Stay at Home World Tour performances on Instagram have been wildly popular as people continue to ride out this pandemic. “You feel it in an authentic way and because of this, I think this tour is going to be all about gratitude for all those first responders and for all of us who did our part staying at home and all the scientists looking for a cure.”

View this post on Instagram Today @saraagahfranti and I have got the Sound of Sunshine for you! We’ve also got Stay At Home Concert World Tour tee-shirts for sale at All proceeds from the sale of the shirts go to The MusiCares Foundation, in support of tech crew people and roadies who are currently unemployed as a result of the stoppage of touring because of Covid-19. If you like what we do on these episodes and want to assist in helping the hard working people that help put our music on the road night after night, wearing one of these shirts with pride is a great way to do it Soulrockers! Comment with what songs you’d like to hear next episode! #stayhuman #stayathomeworldtour #soulrockers @musicaresorg @soulshinebali

A post shared by Michael Franti (@michaelfranti) on Apr 5, 2020 at 6:49am PDT


And while Franti does not know when those special nights will take place, he does know where he can find the sunshine each and every day going forward.

“My son has been this beautiful ray of light and the sign of the promise of what’s to come,” he says quietly. “To watch him play in the mud and look at the frogs and play with a stick and be engaged for an hour…”

He laughs.

“It’s just about the best thing ever.”

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