Christafari are trailblazers, continually pioneering the genre of Gospel reggae in the U.S. and throughout the world. They have performed in 46 states, 50 nations, at two Olympic Games and even before the President of the United States of America. This multicultural 9-member group is lead by vocalist and founder, pastor Mark Mohr. With their blend of traditional roots and contemporary dancehall reggae, they proclaim an uncompromising message of hope and salvation to this lost generation. After two decades, the band is going stronger than ever with a new album and a relentless tour schedule that will have them performing 100 shows in 25 nations.
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 hard drugs, alcohol and even growing marijuana. After having an undeniable encounter with God at a youth camp just before turning 18, Mohr re-committed his life to God 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 impressing on his heart to start the first gospel reggae band in America. It would be a counter-cult, drug aversion ministry that used the uplifting sounds of reggae to bring the lost into the light. This fledgling band was birthed just two weeks later at a camp talent show. He initially called the group The Christafarians and then later shortened the name to Christafari (pronounced CHRIST-AH-FAR-EYE) inspired by the Greek word given to a group of people who collectively represent Christ. “The best advice I was ever given was to go to Bible College so I could be theologically and doctrinally sound,” says Mark. He studied at BIOLA University in Los Angeles, majoring in Christian Education. During his years at BIOLA, the group continued taking shape as Mark wrote songs for Christafari’s first three albums, “Reggae Worship Vol. 1” (Frontline), “Soul Fire” and “Valley of Decision” (Gotee). “Valley of Decision” went on to become the best selling gospel reggae album in the history of the genre.
LION OF ZION
In 1999, after recording two albums with Gotee Records under the tutelage of Toby Mac, Mark branched out on his own, founding 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 has had a hand in introducing the rest of the world to artists like Sherwin Gardner, Monty G, Stitchie, Mr. Lynx, ‘Imisi, Tiko & Gitta and three-time 2006 Marlin Award winner Avion Blackman (Who is also Mark’s wife and the bassist for Christafari). Over the years, Lion of Zion has released 40 recordings including Christafari’s growing catalog of albums; “WordSound&Power”, “DubSound&Power”, “Palabra Sonido Y Poder”, “Gravity”, “Gravitational Dub”, “Reggae Sunday School” (Kids), “To the Foundation”, and their latest offering “No Compromise”.
Through his ever-evolving band and various artist compilations, Mohr was arguably the first to record and internationally distribute the following subgenres of gospel music; reggae, dancehall, soca, me-reggae, jungle, raggamuffin hip-hop, dub and various other styles. Mohr has always placed the popularity of gospel reggae before his own band. He is the founder and president of GospelReggae.com, a webstore that boasts the largest selection of gospel reggae and world music in the World.
In 2009 Christafari became honorees at the Holy Hip Hop Awards and Mohr collected 2 Marlin awards. In 2007 Christafari’s “To the Foundation” made the 50th Annual Grammy Awards ballot (Best Reggae Album category). In 2006, Mark received a lifetime achievement award for his significant contributions to Caribbean gospel music, Christafari received 4 Marlin Award Nominations, 5 Urban Gospel Industry Award nominations and were nominated for Best Reggae Album by the En Sound Music Awards. The group took home Album of the Year in 2005 (UGI) and received 3 awards for Album of the year, Best Artist/Group, and best Producer from the Urban Gospel Industry Awards in 2004. Their “Gravity” release was also nominated for 2 Marlin Awards in 2004. The band’s dynamic performance in Sweden in 2003 landed them a Concert of the Year nod from the Connection Awards. Christafari was nominated for the 2002 Marlin award for International Artist of the Year. Their album, “WordSound&Power”, was also nominated for 4 Marlin Awards in 2000. Christafari even received a Reggae Album of the Year nomination by the Tamika Awards in 1997 and a Dove Award nomination in 1996.
TELEVISION, FILM AND MEDIA
Christafari has been featured on CNN Headline News, MTV News, MTV Brazil, The Family Channel, TBN, BET, The 700 Club, TBS, Steel Roots and the Day 7 show with Greg Laurie. Their videos have been in heavy rotation on channels such as BET and their albums have held strong positions on the Billboard Magazine charts. Their music has landed three movie soundtracks including the Sundance Film Festival Selections, “Naturally Native” and “Meet me in Miami”. Mohr and his wife Avion also regularly produce songs specifically for the ABC Network/Disney and have earned placement on shows such as “General Hospital” and “One Life to Live”. They have also been featured in such publications as Billboard, CCM Magazine and The Beat. There is no doubt Mark Mohr and Christafari are recognized as one of the main forces in American reggae and Gospel music.
“Their music is beyond that of Bob Marley.” – Makeda Dread, 91 X
Mark Mohr and Christafari have brought their own unique brand of gospel reggae to nearly every state in the U.S. and some 50 countries around the world. The band’s first major tour was in 1995 with Reggae Sunsplash, North America’s premier reggae tour, traversing 46 cities and performing before 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 the Greek Theater and Irvine Meadows. When Christafari played at Reggae on the River, the “World’s Greatest Reggae Festival,” Mohr had the privilege of baptizing three new converts in the river. Over the years the group has shared the bill with such top names in the reggae industry such as 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.
“They were a great bunch of guys to have on the road. I’ve nothing but praises for Christafari in terms of their professionalism and the kind of people they are. I would definitely consider them for another Sunsplash tour.” Reggae Sunsplash Tour Producer Wayne Sinclair
In Washington D.C., on the steps of our nation’s capitol, Christafari ministered to their largest audience to date – a crowd of over half a million. Additional performance highlights included the 1997 Presidential Inaugural Ball, They played in the main amphitheater of the Olympic Village during the 1996 Olympic Games and performed at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“Christafari is one of the most entertaining live acts in Jah Kingdom.” – The Beat Magazine, Tom Orr
In early 2009, the band ended their 150-city To the Foundation World Tour (spanning 21 countries before crowds as large as 80,000). The group hit the studio in March to record No Compromise, which was released on August 18th (Infinity Music Distribution).
Two decades in the making, “No Compromise” is an exciting milestone of Christafari’s 20th anniversary. It’s jam packed with 15 new gospel reggae anthems and an arsenal of guest appearances. Blending their signature roots reggae sound with elements of hip-hop, dancehall, soca and even rock, “No Compromise” showcases an unprecedented new gospel sound: a fitting nod to Christafari’s past, and a bold step into their bright future!
No Compromise has long been a theme with Christafari, mentioned in songs like “Christafari,” “Warriors,” “Soul Fire” and “WordSound&Power.” It also pays homage to Keith Green, one of the greatest influencers in Christian music (who had an album and biography by the same title). True to its name, the album delves into various hot button issues like abortion (The Protestors), Rastafarianism (Gwaan Natty), falling away from God (That None Should Fade Away) and marijuana use (Pure Meditations). On “Most High,” for the first time on a recording, Christafari founder and vocalist Mark Mohr vividly shares his testimony as a drug and marijuana addicted youth. The chorus tells of his salvation and that “there is no high like the Most High!”
At the 2009 Marlin Awards in the Bahamas, Mohr made a surprising announcement, “Given the present financial turmoil that many of us are facing, for three weeks prior to the street date, we’ve decided to give away our next album as a download for whatever you can afford. If you don’t have the money, then our next album is on us. That’s right, it’s free!” The response was overwhelming. During the first few days, Christafari’s servers crashed twice because of the sheer volume of traffic.
In promotion of this album, Christafari went on a 20-day European tour playing major festivals like Frizon and Flevo. The band continues its relentless touring schedule, traversing the USA, Latin America, the Caribbean and beyond–leading thousands to the Lord each year!
“I’ve seen then play many times and every time they’ve rocked the crowd. I guarantee that if you put them on any stage at any major festival they will tear the house down. I am confident that the exit polls will be that they are one of the top performers because they bring something different-and an amazing live show!” – Charles Dorris, former vice-president and head of Christian Music at the William Morris Agency and Chairman of the Gospel Music Association.