Morgan Heritage stages all-genre iJAM festival in Florida
Roots reggae sibling group Morgan Heritage – namely Roy ‘Gramps’ Morgan, Peter ‘Peetah’ Morgan and Memmalatel ‘Mojo’ Morgan – have embraced a new challenge, the inaugural staging of the iJAM Music Festival. Scheduled for Orlando’s Tinker Field in Florida on Saturday, April 4, this genre-blending concert will showcase reggae, rock, R&B, soca, Latin and gospel, all on the same stage.
“It is our job as music ambassadors from Jamaica to show that we have more in common than we think with other genres of music,” Gramps Morgan, of the Grammy Award-winning group, told The Gleaner. And, he also explained why Orlando was the host city of choice, rather than Kingston, Jamaica, for example.
According to Gramps, Jamaica is the home of East Fest, their discontinued annual concert, which had its inception in their home parish, St Thomas. “If we are doing another concert in Jamaica, it would have to be The Return of East Fest,” he said.
Orlando, he pointed out, does not have an annual reggae festival, even though the residents fully support the genre. “It is a great city and the ideal place to bring the Caribbean together showcasing our music. We are bringing various genres together, but it is reggae that is the driver,” he expanded.
Emphasising that he and his siblings are first and foremost a reggae group, Gramps revealed that Morgan Heritage has long been representing for reggae on even the most hard-core rock festivals. “In 2000, when we did the Vans Warped Tour, we were the only reggae band on the line-up,” he said, explaining that Vans is the longest-running travelling rock tour in North America.
Using the tag line, ‘Where Impact Meets Music’, the iJAM Music Festival is headlined by Morgan Heritage, and also includes Reggae Queen Marcia Griffiths; dancehall artiste Busy Signal; ska and punk band, Less Than Jake; Junkanoo and pop confab, Baha Men; Boris Bilbraut, formerly of Cultura Profética; soca act Pumpa; Gondwana, representing for the Latin genre; reggae and pop artistes Laza Morgan and Jemere Morgan; alternative/acoustic acts, Esh x Schiefa and Sailor Jane, a proponent of reggae and soul.
Labelled family-friendly, the one-day festival also has a philanthropic side. Morgan Heritage has partnered with Clean the World, an organisation whose mission involves a global hygiene revolution. By recycling soap and other discarded hygiene products, Clean the World saves lives with items that traditionally end up in landfills. Since 2009, they have distributed more than 53 million bars of soap, hygiene kits and other wash supplies, and provided aid to over 10 million people in 127 countries.
“When Morgan Heritage and Central Florida Deals approached us about being a part of the iJAM Music Festival, we knew immediately that it would be a great fit,” Shawn Seipler, founder and chief executive officer of Clean the World, is quoted as saying. “This festival is an opportunity to raise awareness, build social impact, and serve the community. We are honoured to partner with this talented family group of Grammy Award-winning performers to spread love to those in need.”
Tickets for iJAM went on sale to the general public on January 10.