September 21, 2008

Reggae ambassadors Morgan Heritage tour the world

Simply put, Morgan Heritage is taking on the world… and in a huge way. Assiduous and feverishly focused, the group, which comprises the children of Reggae singer, Denroy Morgan, is on a mission. Actually, their most recent CD is entitled Mission In Progress, but it could equally have been named Mission Being Accomplished.
Quite an easy-going set of Rastafarians, Morgan Heritage has refrained from the condemnatory ‘bun dis and bun dat’ kind of livity dear to the heart of some of their fellow Rastafari singers (and deejays). It was they who made people stop, look and listen when they offered the insightful “you don’t haffi dread to be Rasta, it is not a dreadlocks ting divine conception from the heart”.
It was on June 15 that Heritage kicked off their ‘World Tour’ — with the emphasis on the word ‘world’. Apparently worked out with mathematical precision, the tour of the world runs over into next year, with some hard to imagine continental juggling occurring over the period. For example, their US leg of the tour (June 15 to August 2) also saw them leaving North American continent to travel to Europe for one show only. But that, according to the affable Una, the lone female in the group, represented an opportunity of a lifetime.
“It’s one of the biggest festivals in Europe… for 300,000 people… called Parkpop. We performed alongside Sheryl Crow, Jason Mraz, along with a host of other rock, pop, hip-hop and world music artistes,” she said.
According to Una, they were invited by FunX, a mainstream station that had their blockbuster single, Nothing To Smile About, at number one on their chart, above Rihanna, Chris Brown and Usher at the time.
During the official US leg of the Mission World Tour they did the West Coast and, for the group, things reached a peak when they played 18 shows with one day off to end the North American leg of the tour. Interestingly, the official end of the US tour was in the British Virgin Island of Tortola, “where we played to a crowd caught in the rain, yet determined to have a good time,” Una smiled.
Quite satisfied with their progress and accomplishments in the US, a country they had not toured in quite a while, the siblings took a short break before heading off to what Una calls a “festival tour of Europe”. This saw Heritage in performance at all the major festivals — and there are many — dotted right across Europe.
“We played Uppsala Festival in Sweden with Burning Spear, Sean Paul, and Beenie Man; Sundance in Holland with Burning Spear, Tarrus Riley, and Queen Ifrika; Super Bock Festival in Portugal where rock super group Massive Attack played as well. Massive Attack has the legendary Horace Andy on lead vocals. We did Reggae Sunsplash in Austria with Michael Rose and a Surf Festival in Italy,” Una reeled off.
The group, she noted, finished up the festival tour in Germany at the Cheimsee Festival. “Surrounded by German reggae and hip hop stars, we closed the festival in front of 25,000 people,” Una declared.
Another respite and the group was back in North America heading to Charlotte, North Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia where they linked up with Beres Hammond on stage.
Now back in Jamaica, Heritage will resume their regular bookings until October, when they plan to take the month off, “with the occasional weekend one-off” Una added. Come November, they will be off to Europe, this time for a club tour, which will “take us to Sweden, Norway, Denmark, France, Italy, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Germany, Switzerland, Israel, Portugal, Spain and Holland.
“The Mission In Progress World Tour will go directly to Africa from Europe,” Una explained.
She admits that touring is “gruelling”, but for these Rasta/Reggae standard bearers, it comes with the territory and is an integral part of their musical mission.


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