When GRAMMY® Award-winning reggae artist Roy “Gramps” Morgan and Scottish-born multi-platinum recording artist / producer Johnny Reid met
accidentally at a Nashville sporting event, neither envisioned where their partnership might lead. Nevertheless, their discovery of a shared love for songwriting and willingness to take risks has blossomed into a friendship and created one of the most innovative music projects of 2020- A country inspired reggae infused audio cocktail full of good vibrations. Produced by Reid, and mixed by Grammy nominee Justin Cortelyou, Gramps’ new release represents his first solo outing in eight years.
“I grew up listening to soul and reggae music,” Gramps explained, “but when we would make Sunday dinner—we called it ‘rice and peas day’—all we listened towas old reggae and country songs. I developed a great appreciation for country music and always wanted to create music that celebrated both reggae and country. More importantly, Gramps and Reid want to show how two men from different musical and cultural backgrounds can stand united in brotherhood at a time when the world is again coming face-to-face with the harsh realities of racial injustice. “Johnny and I came together in solidarity to create a soundtrack of positive vibes for all the good people out there,” Gramps said. Reid added: “We want this album to celebrate the goodness that is possible when two people from different cultures stand together. Roy “Gramps” Morgan entered one of reggae’s royal families when was born on July 7, 1976. His father, Denroy Morgan, a Jamaican immigrant, helped form the Black Eagles, New York’s first reggae group. As a solo artist, Denroy scored a dance hit in 1981 with “I’d Do Anything for You” (Beckett), and was the first reggae artist signed to RCA. Denroy organized several of his children into a reggae band. Gramps joined the appropriately-titled Morgan Heritage. Morgan Heritage debuted at Jamaica’s Reggae Sunsplash festival in 1994 and signed a recording contract with MCA that same year. Their debut album, Miracles, featured Gramps on vocals and keyboards. In 2009, after fifteen years of touring and recording with Morgan Heritage, the band decided to pursue a solo careers. “Our group was at the top of the food chain among reggae bands,” he said. “We toured the world with all kinds of artists—from Lenny Kravitz to Jewel. But Dad said it was time for each of us to stand on our own, get in the studio and do solo work, so when we got back together, we would be stronger.”
Gramps’s first solo effort, 2 Sides of My Heart, Volume 1, came out that same year. It landed him on Good Morning America and on tour with India.Arie and John Legend. India.Arie invited Gramps to be the featured vocalist on her breezy 2009 single “Therapy.” The song hit #22 on Billboard’s R&B and Adult Contemporary charts and remains Gramps’ highest charting single. He returned the favor by asking the neo-soul songstress to contribute to his sophomore album, 2012’s Reggae Music Lives. She invited him to lend feature vocals to “Thy Will Be Done,” from her SongVersation album, also released in 2012. Despite his solo career, Gramps continued to work with Morgan Heritage. The group’s 2015 Strictly Roots topped the Reggae Music charts and earned a GRAMMY® Award in 2016 for Best Reggae Album. Morgan Heritage garnered two more GRAMMY® nominations: for 2017’s Avrakedabra and for feature vocals on Shaggy and Sting’s 44/876 (A&M Records, 2018).
By 2012, Gramps had moved to Nashville, a city he fell in love with while on tour with India.Arie. Today, he and his wife, cell and developmental biologist Dr. Annabelle Morgan, are raising their children in Music City USA. Recorded in Nashville “People Like You” is the heartwarming first product of the Morgan-Reid collaboration. Gramps delivers a tribute to two men who lost their lives to COVID-19: a beloved uncle and Morgan Heritage producer Robert “Bobby Digital” Dixon. It’s also dedicated to the everyday heroes on the
pandemic’s front lines. Besides “People Like You,” other selections on the new collection celebrate all that reggae and country have to offer. “Runaway Bay,” for example written as a love letter to Jamaica incorporates elements of 1950s-ska a precursor to reggae.
“I want our music to transport listeners to the beach, sipping rum from a pineapple,” Gramps said. By flavoring reggae with dashes of country and soul crooning, Gramps will indeed appeal to fans of legendary artists such as Ken Boothe, Toots Hibbert, Jimmy Buffet and Kenny Chesney. An album dedicated to the “Islander” in all of us