Matisyahu announced via Twitter yesterday that he was shaving his beard, to the dismay and confusion of many of his fans. The reggae star who made waves in 2006 with his album, “Youth,” is a Hasidic Jew and has long been associated with his thick beard and Borsalino hat.
Fans and consumers of his music don’t know what to make of the gesture, says Lauren Markoe of the Religion News Service:
Is he giving up the Orthodox brand of Judaism he adopted 10 years ago, and the ultra-religious persona that helped launch him to reggae stardom? Or is he still a very observant Jew — just sans beard?
Asked one fan on his Web site, which includes a picture of the newly shorn musician: “Are you denouncing your Faith?”
Matisyahu vaguely responded to questions circulating on the Internet, tweeting about how he continued his routine trip to the synagogue the following morning. The artist also addressed the act on his Web site, Sarah Anne Hughes of Celebritology found:
“No more Chassidic reggae superstar,” Matisyahu, born Matthew Paul Miller, wrote on his Web site. “Sorry folks, all you get is me . . . no alias.”
The musician, best known for his hit “King Without a Crown,” explained that he once thought he needed rules “to become a good person,” but said he is now “reclaiming myself. Trusting my goodness and my divine mission.”
Matisyahu’s spokeswoman says he isn’t giving interviews, the Associated Press reports.
More on Matisyahu:
Celebritology 2.0: Matisyahu shaves beard, drama ensues
Has Matisyahu left Judaism?
Hasidic reggae star Matisyahu shaves beard, says he no longer needs lots of religious rules
Young hip Jews leading a Hanukkah music makeover