On August 29, 2013, at around 1841 hours, Gramps Morgan wrote on his official facebook wall that it’s official: “We are coming to Africa, the dates have been cut out any ‘Experienced Promoter’ can link us or if you know ‘the best promoter’ in your country have them contact us Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Malawi and Zimbabwe.”
I have no problems with other countries because such musicians of repute visit and perform in those countries times without number. But I have a problem with how the local entertainment industry is going to handle this offer.
It’s a challenge that will speak volumes of how organised or mediocre our entertainment industry is. For someone who has been writing about music since 1993, I find it sad that if Gramps Morgan were to contact me to find him the best promoter in the country, surely I would not point at anyone.
I know another musical star, the Jazz connoisseur Earl Klugh, will be visiting Malawi soon, but it will be courtesy of the Standard Bank’s ‘Joy of Jazz’ project.
Well, I might assume too much that each and everyone here knows who Gramps Morgan – or The Morgan Heritage – is.
Denroy Morgan is the patriarchal genesis of the Morgan Heritage. He fathered 17 sons and 12 daughters. Denroy is famed as a Jamaican reggae artist who was born in May Pen in Clarendon, but left Jamaica in 1965 at the age of 19 and travelled to the United States to become a musician.
He was part of the formation the Black Eagles, a New York City reggae band, in the 1970s before launching a prosperous solo career in the 1980s onwards.
With his Black Eagles, Denroy won the New York Reggae Music Festival in 1977 which set of his rise to fame which continued into the early 1980s. His most successful release “I’ll Do Anything for You” in 1981 reinforced his fame as it peaked at Number 9 on the American soul chart. It also peaked at Number 7 on the dance charts and these successes helped to launch his solo reggae career.
His 29 children were all musical growing up and have since formed two separate bands; The Morgan Heritage and LMS.
Morgan Heritage is reggae band initially started as an octet featuring eight of Morgan’s 29 children. Morgan Heritage began recording with their father in the early ’90s.
Their father produced their debut single, ‘Wonderful World’, in 1991 followed shortly after by an album, ‘Growing Up’. Morgan Heritage’s first break came the following year when they performed at the Reggae Sunsplash.
Morgan Heritage is known globally as the “Royal Family of Reggae” and the “Rolling Stones of Reggae” owing to their electric stage antics.
Now the reggae band is made up of Peetah Morgan, Una Morgan, Roy ‘Gramps’ Morgan, Nakhamyah “Lukes” Morgan and Memo “Mr. Mojo” Morgan. On the other hand, LMS is a dancehall and hip hop band made up of the trio Noshayah Morgan, Otiya ‘Laza’ Morgan and Miriam Morgan.
Now Roy “Gramps” Morgan who posted about their possible trip to Malawi is also a solo reggae singer whose debut album entitled ‘Two Sides of My Heart’ earned him a number of nominations for awards. He also made it big in 2009 when he featured in India Arie’s track ‘Therapy’. He has his second solo album to his name ‘Reggae Music Lives’ released in 2012.
After recording several successful albums that included ‘Full Cycle’ and ‘Three in One’ among others, Morgan Heritage took a five-year break but this year they have they have released their latest studio album ‘Here Come The Kings’.
Now if you look at the resume of Morgan Heritage – or better still Gramps Morgan – you will realise that they are not a small music unit.
And their expressed interest to perform in Malawi cannot be taken lightly.
Now I am not aware of how this is going to work out. If you must know, apart from Standard Bank, the other firms that have brought artists to the country include the telecommunication company Access which brought South African’s Freshly Grounds to Music Lake of Stars festival in Mangochi.
There was also Total Malawi that used to bring Western African stars like Salif Keita, Tiken Jah Fakoly, Angelique Kidjo, Ismael Lo among others with their collaboration with the defunct French Cultural Centre.
Now considering that these are not promoters but were only doing so with an interest to promote their business profiles, I am still left with the question: if Morgan Heritage wants an ‘experienced promoter’ or Malawi’s ‘best promoter’ to link them with their tour if they have to perform in the country, are we really going to get the better end of the stick in this deal?