Northampton school’s summer campers meet Green River Festival headliner

  • Michael Franti, of Michael Franti & Spearhead, shared his story of being adopted and growing up in a busy household, and campers also had the chance to ask him about his music career during a meet and greet session and private concert on July 14 at Beacon Field in Greenfield. Contributed photo

  • Michael Franti, of Michael Franti & Spearhead, performed for campers from around the country as part of the summer camp led by Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech on July 14 at Beacon Field in Greenfield. Contributed photo

For the Recorder
Published: 7/20/2018 1:48:00 PM

More than 40 students from across the country who are deaf or hard of hearing enjoyed a spontaneous private concert and Q&A with Green River Festival headliner Michael Franti, of Michael Franti & Spearhead, on July 14.

The students, who are in the Pioneer Valley to attend the annual summer camp led by the Northampton-based nonprofit Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech, heard Franti and singer-songwriter Victoria Canal play “The Sound of Sunshine” — at their special request — as well as a new release.

Campers meeting with Franti and Canal at Beacon Field in Greenfield listened as Franti shared his story of being adopted and growing up in a busy household, and they also had the chance to ask him about his music career.

“A ‘meet and greet’ with Michael Franti was not part of our planned camp programming,” said Claire Troiano, Clarke Northampton’s director of mainstream services and the educational administrator of Clarke’s kindergarten through eighth-grade program. “Teachers at our camp knew the band was in town for the festival and worked hard to coordinate this incredible camp activity, which was confirmed only the day prior! The kids and teachers were equally excited.”

Heather Stinson and Ashley Kachelmeyer, fans of Franti’s for years and teachers at the camp, invited Franti to visit with Clarke’s campers after learning he was headlining at the Green River Festival.

“Michael’s humanitarian nature and the lyrics to his songs align with our philosophy at camp — inclusion, equality, and celebration of diversity and differences,” Troiano said.

Clarke led its annual summer camp for children ages 9 through 17 from July 8 to 20 in Easthampton. Campers, who use hearing technology such as hearing aids or cochlear implants and communicate using listening and spoken language, participated in activities led by experienced teachers of the deaf and young adults with hearing loss.

The camp encourages leadership and independence while building skills and life-long friendships. This year’s camp theme, “free to be” aligned with Franti’s focus on social justice.

A world-renowned musician, Franti has been spreading his message of love, peace and social justice for decades. Among other endeavors, Franti’s Do It For The Love wish-granting nonprofit organization brings people living with life-threatening illnesses, children with severe challenges and wounded veterans to live concerts. Through the healing power of music, their goal is to inspire joy, hope and lasting celebratory memories.


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