Sun | Dec 8, 2019

5 Questions with Morgan Heritage

Published:Friday | November 22, 2019 | 12:31 AM
Mr. Mojo, Gramps and Peetah Morgan representing for Africa and Jamaica
Mr. Mojo, Gramps and Peetah Morgan representing for Africa and Jamaica

This Christmas season, Morgan Heritage can rest a little easy because for the first in a long time, the family band members will be all together at home. In addition to spending time at their beloved home base in St Thomas, the band has dedicated some attention to the rest of the island. From December 5 to 11, Morgan Heritage will make an all-island press run – a show of gratitude to media that have long supported the group’s world-renowned, Grammy Award-winning career. They will also be hitting up the studio for some rehearsal time, ahead of their upcoming appearance on the Welcome to Jamrock Cruise.

Ahead of their arrival, The Gleaner caught up with Mr Mojo Morgan, to find out why the band has not been seen together in Jamaica for an extended period. Check out this week’s 5 Questions With …

Why hasn’t Morgan Heritage been together in Jamaica?

“We tour a lot. Gramps spends the most time out of us in Jamaica. We’re very jealous of him (laughs)! But when we’re not touring, we’re in the studio. Peetah and myself anchor those things. We work closely with the label to make sure that what we want as artistes happens with our music. That keeps Peetah and I away from Jamaica more than we would like.”

What brings everyone together now?

“We wanted to use the time just to visit different media houses that have helped to get us to where we are now. We haven’t done that in quite some time. And we released a new album this year, Loyalty. We want to introduce it to Jamaica.

What kind of music should Jamaican fans expect to hear on ‘Loyalty’?

“For those who don’t know about it in Jamaica, they can expect traditional Morgan Heritage, but we also display reggae music from across the globe and the different sounds incorporated in reggae music that originated in Jamaica. If you go to Africa, you hear a different style of reggae music, but it’s still reggae music. Europe, likewise. For us, travelling around all these places means we’ve been influenced by all of the different styles of our music weh come from the Mecca, Jamaica. We wanted to display the universal state of reggae music.”

Speaking of Africa, tell us about your collaborations with Tanzanian bongo flava artiste, Diamond Platnumz.

“We were introduced to Diamond Platnumz through some friends of ours in Tanzania and Kenya. We were able to make the connection via a concert we did in Rwanda – in June 2016, or early July. We met, we connected, we said let’s make this record, while we were making the record, communicating with each other, we flew to London to film the video. We got to spend a few days together. We developed a friendship between each other. We kept the link. And what we did musically connected in a very big way. It made a lot of noise, and we’re grateful for that.

“It’s very important that we bring that back to Jamaica and show them this is what’s going on out there. I think Jamaica is very attuned to its offspring – so to speak. When you talk about a Burna Boy and a Stonebwoy, they are children of reggae music, fused with their African heritage.”

You have toured multiple countries in Africa. How lucrative is it for a Jamaican act?

“I think if Jamaican artistes would look at Africa like every other touring region around the world like the US, Australia, Europe, Canada … we will be able to tour consistently. But we continue to look at Africa as a remote destination. Africa is a continent. We’re not talking about an island – but a continent that has a population close to or more than 1.5 billion people. America has a third of that. Our whole mentality is, if we can get on a tour bus and a drive across America, or even sometimes fly from city to city touring, why we can’t do that inna Africa? A place that I and I as a people identify as the root of our music?”

“Forget about reggae music. Forget about Rasta – but Jamaica identifies Africa in its heroes. Sam Sharpe, Paul Bogle, Nanny – we identify that they are from that which we are from. If we’re going to do what we have to do to build certain regions in the world as markets where we can go and tour consistently, we have to take that same mindset when we go to Africa. It would be very lucrative for all of those that decide to take up the challenge.”

Bonus: What’s your take on this year’s group of Best Reggae Album nominees? And who are you rooting for?

“We say thank you to the Recording Academy for recognising our elders this year, and some upcoming stars. It’s a nice group of nominees. And I’m rooting for reggae. I want all the nominees to show up and walk that red carpet and make us proud – not as a country, as a people. I wanna see a reggae artiste perform on that opening ceremony.”