EVER since he first heard the spiritual rhythms pounding in the slums of west Kingston during the late 1950s, Ras Michael says he knew his life's calling.
"From those days mi waan show people sey Rasta a nuh bad man. Rasta a God man!" he exclaimed.
Ras Michael has led his Sons of Negus group for nearly 50 years, recording traditional anthems like New Name and None a Jah Jah Children no Cry.
On Monday, he marks Ethiopian Christmas Day with a 'bingi' event at St Andrew Park in Kingston.
The self-proclaimed Nyahbingi Specialist has lived in Los Angeles, California for the past two decades, performing throughout that state where he says there is still appreciation for his music.
"I have audiences from 18 to 80 and they say 'this is the music we need, you have to keep singing Ras'," he told the Jamaica Observer.
He credits the Internet for introducing his music to a new generation, but adds that it has worsened a longstanding problem.
"A lot of people exploit my catalogue over the years and continue to take the dividends," he said. "I earn almost no royalties from my blood, sweat and tears."
Ras Michael points out that the Dadawah and Freedom Choice albums are his most exploited work. Rastafari, produced by Tommy Cowan, is another of his albums he claims he has seen minimal returns.
Born Michael Henry in Gayle, St Mary, Ras Michael grew up in west Kingston where he says he was exposed to the Pocomania sounds of the Revival church, as well as calypso, gospel and ska.
He and the Sons of Negus' first recording was The Lion of Judah in 1967. It was also the name of his radio show on the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation, which he used to showcase Rasta culture and music.
The group's last album was Spread Jah Love.