By Bamuturaki Musinguzi
Published August 29, 2017
A Grammy Award-winning reggae family band has expressed its love for Kenya and pledged to spend more time in the East African country.
“Kenya is a place our fathers spoke about many years ago as being close to Ethiopia. We as Rastafarians love Ethiopia, culture and the Solomonic dynasty that exists in Ethiopia,” Roy ‘Gramps’ Morgan of Morgan Heritage told the press in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, prior to the band’s first ever concert in the country popularly known as the Pearl of Africa.
“For our own reasons we have fallen in love with Kenya. We are not yet living in Kenya. But soon, with God’s blessings, we will be spending a lot of time in Africa. There is a special love for Kenya just because the people there have embraced us and the love for reggae music is ever present there,” ‘Gramps’, the keyboardist and vocalist, said.
“Africa is a beautiful place. You have got to come here and experience it yourself instead of relying on other people’s opinions and thereafter create your own views,” Peter ‘Peetah’ Morgan, the lead vocalist, chipped in.
Morgan Heritage performed at the Nyayo National Stadium in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, in October 2015.The performance seems to have left a big impression on the family band whose Morgan Heritage Live in Kampala Concert thrilled reggae fans gathered at the Lugogo Cricket Oval on April 13, 2017.
The famous band kicked off their gig at 10:17 PM with Strictly Roots, which was followed by Don’t Haffi Dread, A Man Is Still Man, Reggae Night, Tell Me How Come, Protect Us Jah, Best Friend and Everything Is Gone Be Alright plus Sila off their forthcoming album, Avrakedabra, among other songs. They ended their electric marathon performance at midnight leaving their fans crying for more.
The main opening act was Jemere Morgan, son to ‘Gramps’ Morgan, who played songs off their 2017 album, Transition, that included Try Jah Love, Happy on Radio and International Love, among others.
A general ticket for the Kampala concert went for Sh50000 (about US$13.6), a VIP ticket at Sh120000 (US$32.7) and a corporate table of ten people at Sh3 million (US$817.8).
“When we perform in Africa it’s always a home-coming of sorts because we know the root of civilisation is from Africa. So it’s always a big party with us and our fans,” said percussionist and vocalist Memmalatel ‘Mr Mojo’ Morgan.
Describing the type of reggae music they play, Memmalatel said, “We play rockaz music; Reggae music with an edge.”
Morgan Heritage was formed in 1994 by five children of the famous reggae artist Denroy Morgan, who is credited as a pioneer of the Jamaican music industry having introduced roots rock reggae to New York City, New York State, USA.
Denroy Morgan, who was born 1946 in Jamaica, left the Caribbean Island in 1965 and settled in the United States. The reggae vocalist has released several reggae albums such as I’ll Do Anything For You (1981), Make My Day (1984), and Salvation (1998).
The sensational contemporary roots reggae quintet also known as The Royal Family of Reggae comprises siblings Peter Morgan, Una Morgan (keyboard/vocals), Gramps Morgan, Nakhamyah ‘Lukes’ Morgan (rhythm guitar) and Memmalatel Morgan.
In their more than two decades of existence Morgan Heritage has produced many successful albums which that include Miracles (1994), Protect Us Jah (1997), One Calling (1998), Don’t Haffi Dread (1999), More Teachings (2001), Three In One (2003), Full Circle (2005), Mission In Progress (2008), Journey Thus Far – Best of (2009), and the much acclaimed Strictly Roots, among others.
Strictly Roots, its 10th studio album possessing that unmistakably authentic Morgan Heritage organic roots sound with an expansively eclectic mix, also pays homage to the elders, while ironically, also blazes the trail towards the exciting future of roots reggae.
Released in 2015 under CTBC (Cool To Be Conscious), its own record label, Strictly Roots won the Grammy Award in the Best Reggae Album category in 2016.
The 12-track Strictly Roots album includes the songs such as Strictly Roots, Child of Jah featuring Chronixx, Light It Up featuring Jo Mersa Marley, Rise And Fall, Perform And Done, Sunday Morning and Celebrate Life.
As to where Morgan Heritage derives the energy and passion to keep active in the music industry, Memmalatel said, “The love for creating new music lies deep within our soul and the love from our fans keeps us going on tour day in and day out.”