Those who grew up in Jacksonville during the 80’s and 90’s know that there is a strong reggae music following here. Inspired by the movie Cool Runnings about the famous Jamaican Olympic bobsled team, reggae nights of the same name began taking place at clubs around the cities. Downtown Jacksonville boasts De Real Ting Café, a restaurant/nightclub that is the site of some of the best reggae events in the area.
So it should not be surprising that local musicians in Jacksonville are starting to make a name for themselves in the reggae music world. One of those artists is Mosiah Jones, who is getting ready to release his first studio album, Trip to Ja, this summer. I had the chance to see him perform recently at Endo Exo with a local hip-hop group, The Prolegend Movement, and also sat down with him for an interview.
I asked him about the significance of his first name, which is also the middle name of Jamaican born Black nationalist Marcus Garvey. He explained that his father, a Rasta, told him that his name means that he “must go higher, most higher”, which sounds like “Mosiah” when spoken in a fast Jamaican patois. Mosiah went on to say that this has inspired his music career by encouraging him to keep “going higher and higher all the way”.
Born and raised in Ochos Rios, Jamaica, an early love for music was instilled in Mosiah by his father. His first performance was at the age of 6 at a fundraising concert with his nephew and two friends. His main musical influences included Bob Marley-naturally, as well as Garnett Silk, Beenie Man, and Beres Hammond. Mosiah named Buju Banton as especially important to him, saying that he would often learn and perform his music.
The story of his first breakthrough performance is nothing short of a fairy tale. Mosiah was working as a vendor at the Pepsi TeenSplash at James Bond Beach in St. Mary’s, Jamaica. During a break, as Beenie Man was preparing to take the stage, Mosiah left his vending station and approached the emcee, asking for a chance to get on up there and perform. The emcee relented and Mosiah made the crowd go wild with his rendition of “Mishika”. When the song was over, he went back to his vending cart. As he recounted this unbelievable story, the first thing that came to mind was the plot from the film Dancehall Queen, in which a street vendor becomes a top-rate dancehall star, all while keeping her true identity a secret.
Mosiah immigrated to the United States in 2007, where his remarkable story continued. Stay tuned for the second part of my interview with him as we discuss his musical collaborations in Jacksonville, along with his upcoming album release.