|Roy "Gramps" Morgan is one of the legendary Denroy Morgan's 17 sons who at the tender age of nine became a member of the family band. Denroy however, prophesized that one day, each of them would trod on their own journey to achieve solo stardom. Now after nearly three decades together, touring almost every continent on the planet and performing for millions of people worldwide, this tightly knit family member's solo journey has begun. Ras Arthur spoke to Gramps on the phone on January 20th, 2009.|
Q: So how are things, you are working on a new album in the studio called "Wash the Tears"?
A: "Wash the Tears" is the new single, we are getting into the studio and getting things going on the album.
Q: What has been your motivation in doing a solo album aside from your work with Morgan Heritage?
A: Just to create.
Q: You come from a family of many brothers & sisters who are also international recording artists like your father Denroy. How would you say you were influenced and brought up to develop these skills?
A: My father was a singer & musician and was our first influence, from there we studied music. Also growing up in Springfield, MA and Brooklyn, NY, what was hot on the radio was a big influence back then.
Q: Coming from a large family what were some of the benefits and positives? Nowadays people are discouraged to have large families, the system and media often paint them as poor, uneducated, oppressed women unaware of birth control. Can you give us your first hand perspective from your experience in a large family.
A: We are an example of the positive; my father had lots of kids, but none of them ended up in jail and all had a safe birth and passage into this world, give thanks. Men have to take charge of their lives when they have children and be responsible.
Q: You grew up in Brooklyn but JA has had an obvious influence, can you give us your perspective on these influences?
A: Growing up in the States, all the different types of music had an influence on us, and we would never stopped learning. We always had reggae of course, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Steel Pulse; more recently Sizzla and Capleton.
Q: What are some of the themes you feel are most important to write and sing about nowadays?
A: Life. Life is ever changing; what is going on with the children; with society. Just life. A song is a story, some stories are like a movie and sometimes (they) are just stories and not necessarily testimonials, or your own testimony every time. Not every song is about just your own experience.
Q: How do you feel reggae artists can help social progress initiatives like reducing crime & violence, gangs, unemployment, hunger, illiteracy etc.?
A: Not just reggae artists, but all artists need to shine a light and be an example. Nobody is perfect, only Christ; and not everyone is a role model, but we need to shine a light for the youths. Some artists talk about guns, sex and such, but we artists try to shine a positive light.
Q: Who are some of your fellow artists, both past and present you admire most?
A: Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, Bob Marley & The Wailers, and Danny Hathaway.
Q: What advice would you have for young artist trying to secure a career in the reggae recording and performing industry, especially if they are not based in JA, NYC, London or Miami where the major labels like VP, JetStar & Greensleeves are based?
A: Try and get some experience in JA, come test the culture and feel the roots to get some exposure. This can be a big influence.
Q: How has Rastafari and Haile Sellassie I influenced your music on a personal and professional level?
A: His Majesty inspires I&I with livity and prophecy and reminds us we are kings and queens. Because of slavery much of that sense has been lost, so in His Majesty we see our true person and true purpose, because he has made prophecy fulfilled.
Q: You and Morgan Heritage sometimes play festivals with rock & punk bands that are not typical of reggae fests, is this a mindful attempt at reaching beyond the normal mass who already knows reggae, avoiding the preaching to the converted syndrome?
A: What happened with Morgan Heritage was some of the managers from these rock bands saw and liked our show and wanted us on their tour, so we toured with Lenny Kravitz, Good Charlotte and other rock bands. Our form of music has a rock edge, it was a way to express our form of music and expose it to more people.
Q: What is your take on the spreading of Rastafari to not so traditional places like Europe, South America and Asia?
A: Rastafari culture is everywhere, Africa, Europe, Japan, everywhere I have been, except China, I've seen Rasta culture and I'm sure it is starting there too.
Q: Speaking of global vibes, many people are excited over the inauguration of Barak Obama today, how do you feel on this occasion?
A: Great moment in time, a moment in history. From the hard work of Martin Luther King, even if he didn't prophesize this, it has happened. A joy to witness and I'm glad I am here to see it.
Q: Also on the question of global vibes, how has music on the internet transformed thing for you. Do you feel it is fair to the artist if songs are played on internet or dj mix cds without always a immediate financial reward to the artists if this helps promote their album or tour?
A: It's a great thing, mix tapes and radio shows, it is a joy the Most High has provided these means to get the music out, so give thanks.
Q: What are you impressions of the annual reggae fest here in Montreal? Any parting words for the fans in Montreal?
A: Always a joy, just the setting on the water is beautiful. We will be there again soon. We hope it stays strong for the years to come even with the tough economic times, it is a great way for promoting and sharing the music.
Interview by Ras Arthur|
(Please do not reproduce without permission)