It's about the music - Gramps Morgan preaches quality; Salutes fellow Grammy nominees
Gramps Morgan of the two-time Grammy nominated reggae band, Morgan Heritage, believes the recognition paid to Jamaican reggae musicians in this Grammy cycle is a testament to the quality of production.
Morgan Heritage has been nominated in the 60th annual Grammy Awards for their album, Avrakedabra in the category Best Reggae Album. Other nominated Jamaicans are Chronixx (Chronology) and Damien 'Jr Gong' Marley (Stony Hill).
For the band, the second nomination affirms the strength of the family sound and the fortitude of their record label, Cool To Be Conscious Records. "We were nominated as a label, producers and songwriters. Coming out like that with a first nomination and win, now another nomination ... . It's hard in this industry."
Morgan Heritage were winners in 2015 with Strictly Roots, sharing the title with Ziggy Marley's Fly Rasta. The Morgan clan has since expanded its musical reach. Lukes Morgan, Gramps' brother, has taken on the administrative management of fellow Grammy-nominated band, Raging Fyah.
Gramps believes that Morgan Heritage can pay it forward through the Cool To Be Conscious label. "It's not all about us. It's about the music. I'm looking forward to the future, to becoming an executive," he confessed.
Along with farming and marketing his own jerk sauce, Gramps also hosts his own radio show. As a disc-jockey, the veteran performer reports that mixing this year's musical productions is a pleasure.
"When you listen to Chronixx, it is exceptional work. I am a fan of all the nominees. I listen to them like a Kurt Riley or a ZJ Liquid. The mixes of these albums are first class. I'm really proud. Even if we weren't nominated, I can see why everyone else was. I see a Marley mix a song three, four times, because it's just not right. It's not about just wanting to hustle the music, and putting 20 artistes on one riddim."
"We love the juggling, but continuing to put out products like these lowers our standards on the international level," Gramps said. "There's nothing wrong with it, but doing it continuously doesn't work on that level."
Though the siblings have previously broken away to pursue solo projects, Gramps said: "There's nothing like the sound of Morgan Heritage. My father always said 'you won't see a next Morgan Heritage for the next twenty years, and it's starting to happen. When me and my brother Peetah and Una sing together, there's something else. Maybe because we're siblings, and we put in the due diligence. No solo could outdo Morgan Heritage, or if it can, it's gonna take awhile."
"The new music came about because we wanted to do something we've never done before. After so many years in the business, you have to become creative in your creativity. You think about how to make what has been celebrated greater, how to not become repetitive with melodies, song subjects, lyrics, music producers. We try to do we've never done before," Gramps told The Gleaner.
One such development in the band's production this time around was the inclusion of members from another famous reggae family.
Avrakedabra features the vocals of Ziggy and Stephen Marley, an unprecedented collaboration, on a song called One Family. "And the song was fitting," Gramps said. The song, One Family, was written while all the musicians were in the Reunion Islands, a French department in the Indian Ocean.
"We actually recorded it at a hotel. With technology these days, we can jump up anywhere and make music and finish it off with top quality production later."