June 30, 1979

Matisyahu Artistfacts

  • Matisyahu was born Matthew Paul Miller in West Chester, Pennsylvania in 1979. He was raised as a Reconstructionist Jew and attended Hebrew school in White Plains, New York.
  • He was a rather rebellious youth, dropping out of high school in White Plains, New York, following the band Phish on tour, and taking drugs. He ended out finishing high school in Bend, Oregon.
  • In 1995, he rediscovered his Jewish identity while attending school in Israel. At 19, he adopted Orthodox Judaism and took the name "Matisyahu," which translates to "Matthew" in English. Matthew was his given name at birth.
  • Matisyahu's 2005 concert in Austin, Texas was recorded and released as his debut album Live at Stubb's. His first official studio album, Youth, soon followed.
  • In 2005 and 2006, Matisyahu opened several concerts for Sting. He also recorded his own version of "Message in a Bottle" by The Police and released it on a remix album called No Place to Be.
  • Being a white reggae singer posed challenges for Matisyahu early in his career. He discussed the topic in his Songfacts interview: "White people have always done traditionally black music, but there's something about it when someone from one culture connects with music from another culture and is able to create something. To me, what it shows is that music is something that's connected, tied up with soul, with emotions and souls, spirits."
  • He appears on two songs on P.O.D's 2006 album Testify: "Roots In Stereo" and "Strength Of My Life." He had also collaborated with the jam band Infected Mushroom on the song "One Day" during his live shows.
  • Matisyahu started growing his beard in 2001, adopting a Hasidic lifestyle which included wearing a yarmulke. He shaved the beard and dropped the yarmulke in 2011, which caused a stir among his fans. In his Songfacts interview, he explained: "I think that at the end of the day, the image, you can't escape the image. But ironically, the message of what I'm trying to say with my music is that it's beyond image. That's what it says. The ability for a Hasidic man to sing reggae music, that authentically means that you can get beyond the image. You know what I mean? There's something bigger than that, and that's the music. So it's ironic for me that, in some ways, I'm trapped up in the image. Does he have a beard? Does he not have a beard? This, that and the other thing. And at the same time, that's kind of what the whole purpose of what I'm doing is all about, getting past that."
  • Bob Marley's "No Woman No Cry" was the first song that Matisyahu learned to play. He recalled to Artist Direct: "I sang this at a campfire when I worked as a dishwasher at a summer camp. People were like what !? I could feel the music resonate in my soul and then saw the way it resonated in people purely from my heart to theirs."


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