Gramps, blessings and welcome to Belgium again. Your last album was called 'Full Circle', meaning you guys were more or less back where you started from. What's the next album going to be about then?
Roy 'Gramps' Morgan: "The new album will be entitled 'A Mission In Progress'. We travelled full circle and introduced Morgan Heritage and all the music that has influenced us, from r&b over rap to rock. On our new album it's all about the people, guiding them towards a brighter day and through the armagideon that's about to face us. It's a musical ministry and we talk about a number of social issues, for example about the importance of family."
Talking about family, you guys are often called "The Royal Family Of Reggae". How do you feel about that title?
Gramps: "It's a great thing, because our king, Haile Selassie I, was offspring of the root of David and King Solomon. We are his children, so we consider ourselves royalty. I guess they called us like that because the way we grew up was very unusual in the West (Denroy Morgan, ex-vocalist of the New York-based reggae band Black Eagles and patriarch of the Morgan upholds the polygamy tradition of marriage, being married to two women simultaneously. With his two wives he raised thirty children under the same roof, red.); it's more of an eastern way of living like you would find in India or Africa for example."
You grew up in New York, but now are living in Jamaica. What would you say is the main difference between the two, lifestyle-wise?
Gramps: "Life in Jamaica is more grand, easier, not a lot of hype. It's a much simpler and natural way of life. New York City is very busy, but actually we grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts, which is like a suburb. We went to school in New York though, so we would travel back and forth. We've been living in Jamaica now for eleven years and it's really been a joy."
The Morgan family is a huge clan that keeps expanding all the time. Do you all live together in a kind of compound, or how should we imagine that?
Gramps: "(laughs) no, the compound is a dream for when we get back to Africa. We're a bit spread out at the moment and have family all over: California, Jamaica, New York, Florida, Atlanta and so on. My father had 30 children, so that's a lot of people!"
Do you ever get everyone together or is that a challenge?
Gramps: "We have family dinners ever so often. My grandmother always insists that we come together once a year, usually in September. That's a lot of mouths to feed, I can tell you!"
One Morgan Heritage member has been missing in action now for some time. I'm talking about you sister Una of course.
Gramps: "Una hasn't been touring since the release of the 'Full Circle' album because she wanted to spend some time with her daughter. She'll probably be away for three or four years. We have children too, but it's different for us as fathers; when we leave their mother is still there, but Una is the mom herself. She's still there on the new album though."
Whenever you perform, there are always these three spiritual symbols on stage. Rastafari is of huge importance in your music, but what would you say Morgan Heritage stands for on the subject?
Gramps: "We place ourselves within the power of spirituality. When you look at me, you know what I am; I don't even need to tell you that. More importantly, we are dealing with the unification of all faiths. I have Jewish and Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim friends, but the power of Rastafari is not being a religion, but being a movement that brings together all kinds of people. The subject is "one love" and the Rastaman is there to make people aware of that. That's why we say: "You don't have to be dread to be Rasta!", because not every man with dreadlocks you see today is a Rastaman. You have Muslims with dreadlocks too (Gramps refers to the so called Baye Fall, a subgroup within the Mouride Muslims in Senegal, red.). The main two issues that make one a Rasta, are the belief in love and the belief in the divinity of Haile Selassie. As long as you have that belief in your heart, you are a Rasta, not because you wear a red-gold-green button, dreadlocks or only eat vegetarian. It's a livity; it's the life that you live that makes you a Rasta. It's a spiritual sense of oneness, not a religion."
The song 'Don't Haffi Dread' has become like a signature tune for Morgan Heritage. What does it mean to you now, so many years after its release?
Gramps: "It has set a lot of people free. A lot of people had jobs that did not allow them to have dreadlocks and the song made them know that they can still believe in Haile Selassie's teachings and love and feel Rasta in their heart. Every year that song is still recruiting new spirits."
Gramps, thanks for taking the time to do this.
Gramps: "Blessed love and thanks to all fans for sticking with us throughout the years. Stay in tune via our website www.morganheritagemusic.com or through our MySpace address (www.myspace.com/morganheritage, red.)!"