Matisyahu: Jewish Rock Raggae

Posted by: Ken Kaus on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 10:00:00 am


The Grammy Awards were just a few nights ago.  The Grammy’s celebrate the very best of the Music Industry so as a part of our new blog series highlighting famous Jewish people, we chose singer songwriter, Matisyahu.matisyahu-highlights-image

“When Matisyahu emerged in 2004 with his debut album, Shake Off the Dust...Arise, his musical persona seemed a novelty to some. Here was a Hasidic Jew -- dressed in a black suit with a broad-brimmed black hat worn over a yarmulke, and sporting a full, untrimmed beard -- who nevertheless performed toasting raps about the glories of traditional Judaism over reggae beats in a dancehall style directly from Jamaica. Moreover, he punctuated his performances with stage diving. It may have seemed like a joke at first, but Matisyahu was serious about his craft, and his diverse style soon garnered Grammy nominations, gold record certifications, and a broad audience.” – Billboard Music

Born Matthew Miller, in West Chester, Pennsylvania, Matisyahu grew up in White Plains, NY.  He grew up in a household learning traditional Jewish values in Hebrew School and in Synagogue.  However, as he entered his teen years, he began to rebel against these traditional values and even dropped out of high school.  By the age of 16, Matisyahu started to find his way back to his Jewish roots.  Seeing the void in himself, Matisyahu left White Plains for a camping trip in Colorado.

His experience in the wilderness led to a spiritual awaking which led to his first trip to Israel. In the fall of 1995, he finished high school at a wilderness program in Bend, Oregon.  It was in Oregon where Matisyahu was encouraged to immerse himself in his music.  He studied reggae and hip-hop music.  He attended weekly open mic nights where he rapped, sang and beat boxed.  It was at this time that he began to develope the reggae/hip hop sound for which he is now known.  He considers Bob Marley, Phish, God Street Wine and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach among his musical inspirations.

Some of career highlights include extensive touring in the US, Canada and Europe and performances with Sting.  He has had numerous songs on Billboard Top 200 List and won awards.  His music has also reached #1 on the Billboard Raggae Charts.

Other notable achievments: 

  • 2007 – Received nomination for Grammy Award category Best Reggae Album for "Youth" 
  • 2007 - Received nomination for MTV Video Music Award Japan category Best Reggae video for "King Without a Crown" 
  • 2012 - Received nomination for Soul Train Music Award category Best Caribbean Performance for "Spark Seeker" 





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