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Matisyahu brings stories, music to ULS

With a style that combines reggae and rap with his Hasidic Jewish heritage, musician Matisyahu will deliver a similarly unique lecture tonight for the University Lecture Series (ULS). Matisyahu will perform “An Acoustic Evening of Stories and Songs” at 8 p.m. in the Marshall Student Center (MSC) Ballroom.

Brent Grunig, a graduate adviser for the Center of Student Involvement, said the event will combine musical performances with discussion about their meanings.

“My understanding is that he’ll be performing his songs – acoustic, of course – while talking about his life, his journey and the songs themselves,” he said.

Matisyahu, born as Matthew Miller, initially dropped out of high school in White Plains, N.Y. to follow the band Phish on the road. Soon after, he discovered Orthodox Judaism and used both influences in his debut album “Shake Off the Dust … Arise.”

He placed No. 28 on the Billboard Top 100 with his single “King Without a Crown” in 2006, followed by No. 85 for his song “One Day” in 2010. His album “Youth” was also nominated for a Grammy in 2006 for Best Reggae Album.

The cost of Matisyahu’s appearance was $28,500 in student-paid Activity and Service fees, which includes speaking fees, travel and lodging, Grunig said.

Grunig said the ULS board was interested in Matisyahu because he fit its theme of diversity – not just his songs’ messages about tolerance, but also the range of his musical influences.

“He’s a Jewish man, but sings reggae and performs reggae, and has gotten accolades from both sides,” Grunig said.

The lecture will include a question-and-answer element, as well as a meet and greet following the performance in MSC Ballroom C.