Messenjah

Profile:
Canadian Reggae group.
Not to be confused with UK Dub group : Messenjah (2)

Messenjah is a progressive Roots Reggae band that was founded in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada in 1981.

The founding members are Rupert [Ojiji] Harvey (lead guitar and lead vocals), Errol [Skippah] Blackwood (bass guitar and lead vocals), Eric [Baby face] Walsh (rhythm guitar and vocals) and Ray [General] Ruddock (drums). Later Hal [Saint] Duggan joined the band on keyboard and vocals, which formed the core of the band. Hal Duggan played with the band for many years before becoming a solo artist. He currently lives in Jamaica and performs under the name: Lazah Current.

After a year of great success touring the university and college circuit in 1982 Messenjah traveled to California to record their debut album titled Rock You High. They put it all on the line and made great sacrifices as this was an independent production.

With support from friends, Peter and Michael Rose, the record was released and doing well when the band was contacted by Warner Music Canada (WEA). Messenjah became the first Canadian reggae band to be signed by a major record label.

Rock You High was re-released on the WEA label in 1983 and for the first time reggae was played on the mainstream radio. In 1984 the band returned to California to record their second album titled Session this time supported by a major label. The title track Jam Session received significant air time and its music video received major attention on national television.

In 1985 Messenjah returned twice to their homeland, Jamaica, first to play at the World Youth Festival in Kingston, and then to play at Reggae Sunsplash in Montego Bay. Both events were very successful and the band was well received in their country of origin.

Later Tony [Scraper] King joined the band to play percussions. He stayed with the band for about a year before being replaced by Hailey Yates.

In late 1985 Errol Blackwood and Ray Ruddock left the band. Blackwood pursued a solo career and was very successful as a touring and recording artist. Messenjah continued touring and recording under Harvey's leadership who performed most of the lead vocals wrote and arranged most of the music.

Charles [Tower] Sinclair replaced Blackwood on the bass, and Walter [Crash] Morgan became the new drummer.

With a heavy tour schedule Messenjah decided to take time off the road and go back to the studio once again as an independent band as they were no longer with WEA. During that period the band came up with a Messenjah classic titled Cool Operator, and the single Crazy received a lot of air and video play in Canada.

Around this same time, Messenjah made appearance in the movie Cocktail with Tom Cruise; they received much needed exposure and were able to tour more extensively, appearing at major venues in the USA and Canada.

After playing at the Sky Dome for Nelson Mandela in 1998, the band members decided to go their separate ways, remaining good friends and appearing on stage together backing other artists.

With several changes in the band's composition throughout the years (mostly drummers), Messenjah kept on touring and recording. In 1998 the band received the prestigious JUNO award for the CD titled Catch De Vibe.

There are some very exciting times ahead Messenjah with a brand new line up consisting of some of the players that were with them in the past years :

In June 2013 Warner Music Canada re-released Messenjah’s Session album in digital format and Rock You High album will be released in July 2014 timing it perfectly with the reunion tour.
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Artist

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Albums

WIC5061 Rock You High — Messenjah Messenjah Rock You High (Album) Phonyx Records Inc. WIC5061 South Africa 1982 Sell This Version
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25 04554 Session — Messenjah Messenjah Session (Album) WEA 25 04554 Canada 1984 Sell This Version
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Shanachie-43056 Cool Operator — Messenjah Messenjah Cool Operator (Album) Shanachie Shanachie-43056 US 1987 Sell This Version
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KUCD 100 Rock And Sway — Messenjah Messenjah Rock And Sway (Album) Kick Up Productions KUCD 100 Canada 1990 Sell This Version
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MRCD 1152-2 Cool... But Deadly — Messenjah Messenjah Cool... But Deadly(CD, Album) Musimart Records MRCD 1152-2 Canada 1994 Sell This Version
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E0 1061-3 Catch De Vibe — Messenjah Messenjah Catch De Vibe(CD, MiniAlbum, Ltd) Not On Label E0 1061-3 Canada 1996 Sell This Version
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E0 1061-2 Catch De Vibe — Messenjah Messenjah Catch De Vibe (Album) Not On Label E0 1061-2 Canada 1997 Sell This Version
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Singles & EPs

2597870 Root Up — Messenjah Messenjah Root Up WEA 2597870 New Zealand 1983 Sell This Version
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25 93817 Sunrise — Messenjah Messenjah Sunrise (Single) WEA 25 93817 Canada 1984 Sell This Version
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25 95610 Jam Session 12 Messenjah Jam Session 12" Single (Maxi, Single) WEA 25 95610 Canada 1984 Sell This Version
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VRI-00100 Night Rider — Messenjah Messenjah Night Rider Version Records INC. VRI-00100 Canada 1986 Sell This Version
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SV-103 Crazy — Messenjah Messenjah Crazy (Single) Version Records INC. SV-103 Canada 1987 Sell This Version
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Compilations

MRCD-1152-2 Cool...But Deadly — Messenjah Messenjah Cool...But Deadly(CD, Album, Comp) Trend Music Group Inc. MRCD-1152-2 Canada 1994 Sell This Version