Ten albums down and nearly 3 decades strong, Morgan Heritage, “Reggae Music’s Royal Family,” have finally set out to fulfill their father’s prophecy of achieving solo stardom. Noted for their redemptive, empowering, spiritually rooted ballads, 5 of deceased 80’s megastar Denroy Morgan’s (I’ll Do Anything,” 1981) 30 offspring, form the legendary Rastafarian collective.
Their illustrious musical journey began back in 1994 when the then teenage band was signed to MCA Records, on the spot, immediately following a successful debut performance at Reggae Sunsplash. Over the years the clan has penned countless Rockers hits like, “Don’t Haffi Dread,” Down By the River,” and “Tell Me How Come.”
Currently working on their 11th studio album while simultaneously embarking on individual journeys, Morgan Heritage continues their gracious calling of globally healing hearts, minds and souls with melodic message music.
First up, Roy “Gramps” Morgan with Lovers Rock LP, 2 Sides of My Heart, Volume 1.
HipHopWired: The last time we vibed was a couple years back, during the holiday season in St. Lucia, for the Freedom Project benefit concert, how’s everything?
Gramps: Man, it’s been a rollercoaster since we last linked, honestly a lickle crazy. Solo projects for everybody, me touring with India Arie on the Soul Bird Tour, as well as doing Good Morning America and VH1 Soul; it’s been a whirlwind.
HipHopWired: You’re keeping busy, that’s a good thing.
Gramps: Yeah, but my brother Peter has always been the lead singer of the group so it’s just the work ethic is really high right now.
HipHopWired: Sounds like a major transition for you.
Gramps: Yeah, it’s a serious transition mon!
HipHopWired: Haha. Don’t fret; it will only make you more disciplined at your craft.
Morgan Heritage’s fan base is incredible. You’ve virtually toured on every continent in the world, selling out stadiums, performing before a variety of audiences, is there any major difference when you’re doing a show in the Caribbean vs. Asia vs. South America vs. Europe?
Gramps: Oh yes, there’s a major, major difference performing in front of audiences that have never heard of you, maybe four or five people in the crowd. Since I’ve been touring with India, the chemistry between she and I on stage has been a really amazing experience. When we get on stage, we notice certain things and talk about them. Me sharing what I would do on my set running the Reggae circuit and sharing what she could use to sell her songs to better bring her points across.
HipHopWired: How do you touch those crowds who really aren’t familiar with your music…engage them while you are on stage?
Gramps: I just give my best, show the passion in what I’m doing and try to match that with what India’s doing. When we’re on stage together we bring across one universal message of peace and harmony.
HipHopWired: It’s definitely a universal message so if people are willing to embrace it, they’ll get it.
Gramps: They are getting it! When India introduces me she tells the audience to google Gramps Morgan and Morgan Heritage. Then when I go to my website and Facebook page, people are commenting about my set, so it is working.
HipHopWired: I know your mission is to heal people via your music, have you ever had an experience where someone came to you and admitted how your lyrics changed their life?
Gramps: Definitely. That’s happened with Morgan Heritage and even now with my solo project. I was really blown away by the public’s response to my first single, “Wash The Tears.” People attached themselves to that song and would say things like, “That tune’s really comforting, it changed my life” and I was like WOW! The whole vibe I wanted to bring across, healing people during a time when mortgages are foreclosing and people loosing their jobs, I know the mission’s being completed.
HipHopWired: On the hook of “Wash The Tears,” you wail, “you know we shall win, you know we’ll survive…” that one line instills a sense of hope in people, during a time when they need restoration and a strong sense of faith, more than ever. How does Gramps weather the storm? What keeps you going?
Gramps: What my father fought, sacrificed and labored for. And my mother, she passed away in 1988 when I was just a kid, just knowing that she would want me to do something positive. A lot of it has to do with my upbringing and character. I’m an easy-going guy.
HipHopWired: The album is entitled, Two Sides to My Heart, what’s the meaning behind the title?
Gramps: Two sides of my heart represents the two sides of my heart musically. I have an R&B, Gospel, Rock, and Country background and with this new album I’m giving everyone a chance to experience the diverse elements that make up Morgan Heritage.
It’s a two part project, Vol. 1 is Roots, Rockers, Lovers Rock, Reggae songs and Vol. 2 is R&B/ Pop, which is already in the beginning stages, featuring Musiq Soulchild and a whole slew of artists, I don’t even want to say but It’s gonna be something that’s never been heard before.
HipHopWired: Was your goal to identify yourself as a solo artist on this project, give fans strictly Gramps Morgan?
Gramps: Yes! I just want to share with the world. Share the power of healing, the power of love, the power of emotions and harmony through music. That’s my mission.
HipHopWired: The record is released under your new label, Dada Son, how did you come up with the name?
Gramps: Haha, that’s a good question! You know, Dada, is my father’s nickname from when he was a kid. He was a member of the 12 Tribe of Israel and they used to call him Dada Simian. I took the name from that because I am the son of Dada, the son of Denroy Morgan.
HipHopWired: Hmm, I like that a lot. So, how does it feel to be free from VP? After 10 albums with Morgan Heritage, 3 DVDS, free from all the major label B.S., just doing your own thing?
Gramps: Haha. Well, Morgan Heritage still has two albums left on VP, which are almost complete. We’re still doing shows, performed at Reggae Sumfest this year as a special tribute and we’ll be touring in Africa. Africa because for so many years we’d go to Europe and hear, “When are you comin’ to Africa my brotha?” They’ve been lacking Morgan Heritage performances…we have yet to service that market and we need to.
A tour in the US or Europe won’t be for a couple of years. Right now we’ve just been focusing on our individual projects, keeping ourselves challenged in the music. I’m just happy VP gave me the opportunity to support my own label. They’re helping me with distribution as well virtually allowing me to be free…
HipHopWired: That’s wonderful. Are there any other artists on the Dada Son label?
Gramps: Not as yet. I was producing an artist from Hawaii named Irie Love, and I’m thinking about signing a couple more acts in Jamaica and Hawaii…
HipHopWired: Nice. Why Hawaii?
Gramps: I think Hawaii is a dream version of Jamaica. Jamaica is such a beautiful country, when you go to certain places it’s very vibrant, full of vibes but we have some issues that we need to take care of. Hawaii is like a subtle Jamaica…it has beauty and the power of healing.
HipHopWired: What do you appreciate most about being a solo artist thus far?
Gramps: I appreciate my growth. The things I might have had my brothers to do, interviews, radio jingles, recording in the studio, it’s now all on me. The same thing goes for the rest of the group.
We really just want to share ourselves with different people in the industry right now. We been doing this since we were babies, we’ve worked with one another for over 26 years…
HipHopWired: Got you. It was your father’s prophecy for each of you to do your own thing, travel on your own journeys, did you know when you were younger that music was something you’d be doing forever?
Gramps: All day! There was a point when I started playing football and was very good at it; I almost had a scholarship to go to school in Florida. I walked away from that opportunity and got signed to MCA records in 1994. My football coach always encouraged me to sing and said you can sing forever but you can’t play football forever.
HipHopWired: Valuable advice. You definitely have a beautiful voice…
Gramps: Awww, Thank you very much…
HipHopWired: You’re very welcome. Do you feel like you’re close to fulfilling your musical destiny?
Gramps: No, I’m just getting started, hahaa…
HipHopWired: I hear that. So what can we expect from Gramps in the near future?
Gramps: Look out for the mainstream singles like “Hold On” and “Don’t Cry for Jamaica.” I’ll be on tour this Fall with John Legend and possibly going to Europe with India as well as doing my own tour.
For more information on Morgan Heritage’s Gramps Morgan and to listen to the new album, log on to http://www.grampsmorgan.com.