Matisyahu was born Matthew Paul Miller on June 30, 1979, in West Chester, Pennsylvania, but grew up in White Plains, New York. By the time he was a teenager, Miller was living the life of a hippie and enjoyed the company of "Deadheads." Miller grew up as a Reconstructionist Jew, but a camping trip to Colorado revealed a hidden spirituality that hadn't been previously known to him. Intrigued, Matisyahu took advantage of a semester-long Jewish heritage program in Israel. The trip strengthened the feelings Miller had found in Colorado, and he adopted Orthodox Judaism. However, when Matisyahu returned to New York, he found himself unable to deal with his new religious connection and ended up dropping out of high school and following a national Phish tour. When he returned, Miller's parents insisted he attend a wilderness school in Oregon to figure out his life.
At the school, Matisyahu was encouraged to explore his creative side, so he studied up on reggae and hip-hop and developed the style he is known for today. Two years later, he graduated with his spirituality intact and future career plans laid out. Matisyahu moved to New York City and studied at The New School, where he further developed his talent. While in New York, he happened upon the Carleback Shul synagogue, where he even further finetuned his music.
In 2004, Matisyahu signed with JDub records and began recording his first album. Shake Off the Dust…Arise was released in October 2004. Although it failed to chart in the U.S., the album did catch the eye of many and gained Matisyahu many fans. This was reflected when his first live album, Live at Stubb's, reach #30 on the U.S. Billboard charts. His big break came in June 2005, when he was invited to do a guest spot at the 2005 Bonnaroo Music and Arts festival by Trey Anastasio of Phish. After this, Matisyahu's career took off. He toured throughout 2005 and 2006, including opening a show for Sting.
Matisyahu's newfound success only got greater with the release of his second studio album, Youth, released in March 2006. The album peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200 and has been certified gold. The album spawned two singles, "Youth" and "King Without a Crown." "Youth" reached #19 on the U.S. Modern Rock chart, and "King Without a Crown" reached #7 on the Modern Rock Chart, #28 on the U.S. Hot 100, #13 on the Hot Digital Songs chart, and #27 on the Pop 100. The success of the second studio album and "King" has ensured Matisyahu a place among some of the most popular artists of the time. Mixing a style that includes reggae, rap, rock music, guitar solos, and taking influences from Bob Marley, Phish, and Rabbi Shlomo Carleback, Matisyahu has a little bit of something nearly everyone can enjoy.
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