On October 10, 1977, Joseph
Israel was born Joseph Montgomery Fennel in the city of Tulsa,
Oklahoma. In Fayetteville, Arkansas Joseph’s father opened a live
music venue called “Jose’s Restaurant and Club”. Growing up, Joseph
could often be found at the club engaging with the many musicians
that would perform over the years. Joseph showed a natural calling
for music from an early age.
Very much influenced by Bob Marley and the Rastafari way of life, Joseph, at age 14, took his first trip to Jamaica. As a youth, he would travel seven more times to the Island, counseling with Rasta elders such as Ras Bee-Bow of Negril and Bongo Hu-I, the great teacher and herbalist of Montego Bay. As the Rasta Philosophy took root in Joseph, so did long dreadlocks. Israel felt a mystical identity to Jamaica; its people, and their music.
Back home Israel became a leading influence among young musicians and formed a band called “Root Kind”. Joseph was so inspired by creating music that he organized funding through his school to record at a professional studio.
In 2000 Joseph put together
a new band, “Kepha”, meaning “The Rock” in Hebrew. They recorded
their only release “Redemption Time” live at Crisp Studios in
Fayetteville. The 10 track CD featured all original music. The band
went on to perform at reggae festivals in the south and Midwest U.S.
and shared the stage with reggae legends like Culture, Burning
Spear, Itals, and many more.
In August 2003, Joseph’s
career took a fortuitous shift as he performed acoustically to a
packed house for superstar Ziggy Marley on his Dragonfly tour. He
connected with members of Ziggy’s band who are some of Jamaica’s
greatest musicians. He had the honor of working with Christopher
Meredith and Ian “Beezy” Coleman. Together they produced some demo
tracks to be released on the Lions of Israel label.
At the end of 2003, Joseph
put a new team together to join forces with Mikey General for a
national tour promoting the General’s latest VP records release Red,
Green and Gold. This tour included female backing vocalists Erica
Newell who tours with Ziggy Marley and Rochelle Bradshaw who tours
with Luciano. Out of this tour came a united effort by each of the
members to produce a new song entitled “Universal Love” which
appears on Israel’s soon to be released CD.
As the CD was being built, excitement could be felt all around. A high point for Joseph was working with Luciano on the hit single “Ruff Times”. This single exploded onto the scene receiving enormous airplay in Jamaica, America, and Europe. In August of 2004, Luciano invited Joseph to join the U.S. tour promoting his new album Serious Times.
the tour Israel returned to Jamaica to further promote the “Ruff
Times” single and his soon to be released album. The official single
launch was held December 9th at Hope Gardens in Kingston, Jamaica.
It was well attended by the press (both journalist and radio dj’s)
and a roaring audience.
Joining Joseph on tour will be Erica Newell. Erica has recorded and toured with Ziggy Marely and the Melody Makers since 1985. She is a major force in the group providing sweet and powerful background vocals. Erica has worked with the legendary I-Three (Bob Marely’s background vocal trio), which includes Judy Mowatt, Rita Marely, and Marcia Griffiths. Erica has also worked with Reggae’s prince, Dennis Brown, Damian Marley, and Mikey General. She has performed live with the internationally acclaimed group, U2 and has done studio sessions with the Fugees and The Black Crowes. Erica is coming out with her debut album this year.