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Like his older sister, singer/songwriter Heather Nova (born Heather Frith), pop-reggae singer Mishka grew up at sea, traveling from island to island in the West Indies on his Canadian parents' sailboat, where he received most of his education and listened to whatever music he could. When his parents returned to Canada, he completed school and returned to the Caribbean, eventually becoming a competitive windsurfer and representing Bermuda at international meets. In the meantime, he had also taken up songwriting and, in late 1996, he chanced to meet and impress Creation Records head Alan McGee with his vocal ability; with prodding from Nova, Mishka was signed to a record contract the following year. His eponymous debut album, a mix of pop, reggae, soul, and singer/songwriter folk-rock, was released in 1999.
He took the album on tour and didn't stop. He built a large international audience one show at a time, especially after a particularly important stint on a 2000 sold-out North American tour opening for Xavier Rudd. The same year, Creation (via Sony) issued In Dub, mixed and co-produced by dub master Mad Professor. While he continued releasing singles -- which were almost always compiled on reggae comps -- he didn't release another album until 2004, when the studio effort, One Tree, was issued by Rude Boy and picked up the following year for distribution in the U.S. by Cornerstone R.A.S.
Mishka signed to actor Matthew McConaughey's JK Living label for 2009's lovers rock set Above the Bones, with a backing band that included guitarist Darryl Thompson keyboardist Phil Parlapiano, drummer Juan Parris, and backing vocalists Erica Newell, Stacia Rhoades, and Sara Johnston. Acclaimed from Brooklyn to Barbados, the set was a staple for many reggae DJs. The diverse Talk About appeared from the label the following year, showcasing reggae as the frame for song excursions into folk and country as well as Caribbean roots music. Willie Nelson appeared on the track "Homegrown," while Butch Walker produced the tracks "Stars Will Be Shining" and "Give Them Love." Mishka's touring opportunities only grew. He played his own headlining shows all over the globe, and became a large a draw at music festivals in the U.S. In 2013, he was given his own Mishka imprint by Jimmy Buffett's Mailboat Records. His debut for the label was that year's pop reggae groover The Journey, followed by a long tour and a quick re-entry into the studio for 2015's Roots Fidelity, which featured legendary session drummer/percussionist Horseman (Winston Williams) singing on the track "More Greens." ~ Steve Huey
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