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Drumming Pen: The phoney that was Morgan Heritage

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Morgan Heritage decided to come to Malawi and despoil what would have been a brilliant year in terms of reggae performances in Malawi.

Born African Productions had at least brought into the country Fantan Mojah and the Messenger himself, Luciano.

So, when Born African Productions announced the coming in of Morgan Heritage to perform in Lilongwe on December 27, it was clear this was going to be an icing on the cake and a decent way to say Good Bye to 2015.

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But as fate had it, what was in store shell-shocked and deeply disappointed me. The all great Royal Family of Reggae was not performing as a reggae group any more.

What is even making me feel more hard done-by is the response that one of the Morgans, known by the name Mr. Mojo, gave when asked if they would be up to scratch as Fantan and Luciano had done before them.

A media practitioner wanted to find out if Morgan Heritage was prepared enough to beat outstanding performances by Luciano and Busy Signal.

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Mr Mojo, tongue in cheek, responded: “Luciano is a singer; Busy Signal is just a DJ, while Morgan Heritage is a musical band. While we are not coming into Malawi to beat live performance bars raised by anybody, but you can’t compare a singer, a DJ to a musical group.”

Look here, Jamaican International Reggae Superstar Luciano— whose distinguished performance from the late hours of March 28 to the wee hours of March 29 at times left all the patrons transfixed at the finesse with which he executed and showed all that came why he has made himself an international household name— made it inevitable for us to compare his performance with the appearance of Morgan Heritage.

Born 20 October 1964, as Jepther McClymont, despite his age Luciano also executed two of his signature summersaults amidst performance that went with his unbelievable thrilling voice.

With Luciano, the line up included more local acts like Sally Nyundo, Soul Raiders, Skeffa Chimoto, Lucius Banda and many more and the South African-based Malawian reggae star Born African, real name Nelson Shaba, showed why he has come of age.

This was perhaps the only reggae musical show after the 1987 Reggae Unite for Africa where various Jamaican artists converged and performed at Kamuzu Stadium, where the musical instruments were emitting crystal clear sound.

During his performance, Luciano acknowledged the same and doffed his hat to sound Engineer, fellow compatriot Jonny B, who also came during the show of 39-year-old Jamaican reggae singer Fantan Mojah at Lilongwe Golf Club a few months earlier.

Bucandy, playing first keyboards set, Ricky second keyboards set, Trust playing lead guitar, bassist Angelo, Lumanyo on drums as well as the two ladies, Nomawethu and Mpumi, the backing vocalists, completed the ‘All Nations Band’ which Luciano also praised highly.

Mojah, too, gave a sterling performance at Lilongwe Golf Club courtesy of the same band.

Born African used this very band and in fact he did a copy called ‘Works to Do’ by Jamaican Royal Family of Reggae ‘The Morgan Heritage’ and by the way people almost felt cheated as they thought Born African has started using a CD from the band.

Then last Sunday, Morgan Heritage said they are a band and not Luciano who is a solo artist, hence their band is not composed of the ‘All Nations Band’.

The Promoter Born African came to the defence of Morgan Heritage saying the media neither helped them nor understand them because they had said it at the press conference that Morgan Heritage was in the country and they would do a ‘sound system performance’ and the media failed to interpret it.

Well, I attended the show and after the Royal Family of Reggae performed two tracks I told my spouse that we needed to drive back to Blantyre right away.

Not that I was against their ‘Sound System Performance’ but that even the CD player could not be heard. At one time not even the vocalisation could get through the big speakers. Many questions arose.

Before the brilliant performances from Sally Nyundo, Soul Raiders and The Blacks, Joy FM DJ Spyda the Ryda had done some jockeying and it was blasting around the whole stadium. What caused the system failure when the main performer stepped up?

This is a band with unmatched reputation, I have their videos where they have performed throughout the world and they are a wonder to watch. What happened to their performance right at home here?

Was it merely a raw deal that exactly turned them into some phoney performers?

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