Christafari are trailblazers, continually pioneering the genre of Gospel reggae in the U.S. and throughout the world
By Good News Today staff
With over a half million albums sold worldwide, Christafari is the top selling Gospel Reggae artist of all-time. After over two decades, the groundbreaking band is stronger than ever… making history in 2013 when their latest album, “Reggae Worship: A Roots Revival” (Lion of Zion Entertainment), hit #1 on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart.
But Christafari is more than a group of musical trailblazers. They consider themselves “Musicianaries” – using their unique blend of traditional roots and contemporary dancehall reggae to proclaim an uncompromising message of hope and salvation to this lost generation.
Christafari went back to their roots in 2012 with the release of their first worship album in nearly 20 years. On “Reggae Worship: A Roots Revival,” Christafari reworked classic hymns, reinterprets many of today’s top worship anthems and gives fans a handful of original worship songs that truly capture the band’s signature sound.
The unexpected result was that the band made history when “Reggae Worship: A Roots Revival” hit #1 on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart – the first time ever for a Christian project to top that chart. Speaking of the band’s chart success, Mark Mohr stated: “We care a lot more about hearts than charts. Our passion is for souls, not sales and we only do concerts as a way to make converts and fulfill the great commission.”
Christafari was founded in 1989 by songwriter, producer and lead vocalist, Mark Mohr. Raised in a Christian family, Mark strayed from his spiritual upbringing during his teens and turned to drugs and alcohol. After having an undeniable encounter with God at a youth camp just before his 18th birthday, Mark re-committed his life to Christ and took what he now calls his “Freedom Step” out of addiction. At that point, his greatest desire was to help others step out of the same bondage that once entangled him. He felt God leading him to start the first Gospel reggae band in America. It would be a counter-cult, drug aversion ministry that used the conscious sounds of reggae to bring the lost into the light. Two weeks later this fledgling band was birthed at a camp talent show.
While their name may just sound like a play on words, in Biblical Greek it stands for a group of people who bear or represent the name of Christ. “The best advice I was ever given was to go to Bible college so I could be theologically and doctrinally sound,” says Mark, who majored in Christian Education at BIOLA University. During his college years, Christafari continued to evolve as Mark wrote songs for Christafari’s first three albums, including “Valley of Decision” (Gotee) which went on to become the top-selling Gospel reggae album in the history of the genre.
In 1999, after recording two albums with Gotee Records under the tutelage of TobyMac, Mark branched out and founded his own record company, Lion of Zion Entertainment, with the goal of “Reaching the World through World Music.” With their broad distribution channels, Lion of Zion introduced the world to top-selling artists like Sherwin Gardner, Monty G, Stitchie, Mr. Lynx, ‘Imisi and three-time Marlin Award winner Avion Blackman (who is also Mark’s wife and the bassist for Christafari). Over the years, Lion of Zion has released more than 50 recordings and launched GospelReggae.com – the world’s largest online store for Gospel reggae and world music.
As a band, Christafari has brought their unique brand of Gospel reggae to nearly every state in the U.S. and over 50 countries around the world. The band’s first major tour was 1995’s Reggae Sunsplash – North America’s premier reggae tour, traversing 46 cities and performing in front of more than a quarter of a million people. They have played at virtually every major festival and many of the country’s most prestigious venues like L.A.’s Greek Theater and Dodger Stadium. When Christafari played at Reggae on the River (the world’s largest mainstream reggae festival), Mark had the privilege of baptizing three new converts in the river.
Over the years the group has shared billing with nearly every major reggae artist including Aswad, Bunny Wailer, Lucky Dube, Big Mountain, Burning Spear, Pato Banton, Dennis Brown, Freddie McGregor, The Wailing Souls, Capleton, Israel Vibration, Culture, Buju Banton and Wayne Wonder.
In Washington, D.C., on the steps of our nation’s Capitol, Christafari ministered to their largest audience to date – a crowd of over 500,000 people. Additional performance highlights included the 1997 Presidential Inaugural Ball, They played in the main amphitheater of the Olympic Village during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and performed at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Christafari has been featured on The 700 Club, CNN Headline News, MTV News, MTV Brazil, ABC Family, TBN, JCTV, BET, TBS, Steel Roots, Greg Laurie’s Harvest and much more.
Who would have expected that what started off as a simple performance at a church camp talent show back in 1989 would grow into a new genre (Gospel reggae) that now boasts over a thousand bands? And some 24 years later, Christafari has ministered on virtually every continent, hit the top of the secular charts and is going stronger than ever!
If you’d like to see Christafari live they will be appearing at the Providence Assembly of God on Friday June 13th at 7 PM. For additional information contact Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-733-0566.