Matthew Miller, June 30, 1979 - West Chester, Pennsylvania
Quote from Matisyahu:
In an interview with CentreDaily Matisyahu spoke about the connections between Judaism and reggae:
"There are a lot of cultural convergences between Rastafarian culture and reggae and Judaism, reggae really borrows a lot from the Old Testament."
The young Matthew Miller grew into a rebellious hippie by his early teens. He hung around with groups of Dead-heads and headed off for a camping trip to Colorado at the age of 14. In Colorado he had a spiritual experience that caused him to delve into his Jewish heritage and travel to Israel. While in Jerusalem Matthew nurtured his growing Jewish consciousness. Returning to his home in White Plains, New York, was a difficult transition.
Travel and Art:
After returning home from his Israel experience, Matthew embarked on months of following the touring band Phish. When he eventually headed back to New York, his parents encouraged him to "straighten" himself out at a wilderness school in Bend, Oregon. At the school Matthew Miller immersed himself in music and developed his own unique combination of Judaism, reggae and hip hop. He returned to New York 2 years later at the age of 19.
Trivia Fact About Matisyahu:
Matisyahu has written a play titled Echad, meaning One. It is about a boy who meets a rabbi in Washington Square Park and becomes religious. Shortly after writing the play, Matisyahu's life followed a similar path.
Community and Performance:
Back in New York once again, Matthew enrolled in the New School and became involved with the upper west side synagogue Carlebach Shul. Then he met a rabbi from the Hasidic Chabad-Lubavitch sect of Judaism who encouraged Matthew to deepen his religious commitment and adopt the name Matisyahu. The Crown Heights neighborhood of Manhattan is now home to Matisyahu who splits his time between performing his music and taking part in his Hasidic Jewish community.
Success for Matisyahu:
Matisyahu's first album, Shake Off the Dust...Arise, was released on the independent label JDub Records in 2004. A followup live recording of a performance in Austin, Texas titled Live at Stubb's appeared in April, 2005. Epic records took notice of the record and picked it up for national release in August, 2005.
Live at Stubb's has been a slowly emerging national success. "King Without a Crown," <Listen> a single from the album, has reached #1 on Billboard's modern rock chart, and it has also made it into the lower reaches of the pop singles chart. The album has risen into the top 40 of the pop albums chart.
Matisyahu is looking for even greater success when his album Youth, produced by Bill Laswell, is released in March, 2006.