Roots reggae is our inspiration at Rootfire because it carries a tradition forward without limiting the language of future expression that can come through in a given song. Like the Ghanaian Sankofa symbol in our logo, the music looks to the past and pushes forward. When we introduce new music to our readers, we are looking for music that sounds like it already exists, but feels like you’ve never heard it before. This week we’re introducing a Rootfire World Premiere track from Morgan Heritage, a band that may be new to some in the scene because they’ve been at the center of it so long.
Morgan Heritage is composed of a family of Jamaican-American artists, the children of Denroy Morgan, one of Jamaica’s most successful musical immigrants to the U.S. The group has been laying down roots reggae tracks with a spiritual bent since the early ‘90s, when they broke out at a Reggae Sunsplash concert in Jamaica.
I remember in 2003 attending a symposium on reggae’s impact on American spirituality at the Harvard Divinity School and Denroy Morgan was there with Judy Mowatt, who was still a majestic woman in her early 50s. Morgan Heritage played at the event. What stands out to me is that we had a really hard time getting any of the students to buy into the experience and attend the concert. At that time reggae was just Bob Marley, it was a musical backwater on a box set reservation in our country, even though bands like John Brown’s Body were already laying the ground for its resurgence down the street in Beantown.
Things have changed. The music dies back in winter and breaks through with new power in the spring. Morgan Heritage and the Morgan family helped keep the fire alive, like high priests and priestesses guarding a heritage. So it’s our pleasure that they chose to kick off their latest resurgence on Rootfire with the release of “We Are Warriors”, a roots anthem that features SOJA’s Bobby Lee and re-establishes Morgan Heritage’s voice in the scene, layering Soul and R&B stylings over the band’s signature Roots Reggae sound. “We Are Warriors” is an invitation to all conscious people to stand up and join the reggae movement.
Morgan Heritage: http://morganheritagemusic.com
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