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  • Christafari to play free concert at Calvary Chapel Apple Valley tonight.

  • The reggae band Christafari will bring its Jamaican sound to Calvary Chapel Apple Valley for a free concert tonight. The band is on its multiple-city "I'll Fight Tour." Courtesy of Christafari
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    The reggae band Christafari will bring its Jamaican sound to Calvary Chapel Apple Valley for a free concert tonight. The band is on its multiple-city “I’ll Fight Tour.” Courtesy of Christafari

  • By Rene Ray De La Cruz—-
  • APPLE VALLEY — After selling a half-million albums worldwide and topping the Billboard Charts over the last 25 years, the reggae band Christafari will make a stop in the High Desert on Wednesday night.

    Band manager Torie Toopii said the band’s “Desert Tour” or the “I’ll Fight Tour” tour began in Colorado with 13 shows. After playing shows in Big Bear and Joshua Springs, the group will head to Las Vegas after they play in Apple Valley.

    “We’re excited about bringing our music to Apple Valley and to the people of the entire High Desert,” said band founder Mark Mohr, a former drug addict and marijuana grower who now promotes Christianity through the Jamaican sound. “It’s been a great tour so far, but we have more people to minister to.”

    Toopii said Mohr’s wife, Avion Blackman, and Solomon Jabby, or “Peyton Ritter,” will highlight the band’s free performance at Calvary Chapel Apple Valley on Wednesday.

    Mohr said the “I’ll Fight Tour” is named after the band’s newest song that celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Salvation Army.

    Pronounced Christ-a-far-eye, the band returned from a recent mission trip to Honduras where over 6,000 people made decisions to follow Jesus Christ, Toopii said.

    “We do about 200 shows a year and our team is from Colombia, the Philippines, Hawaii, Tobago and the East Coast,” said Mohr, 43. “We’re a diverse team with one simple message — Come to Jesus.”

    Mohr said along the two-decade journey of ministering to the “cassette and CD generations,” he came to the realization that his band was a “misfit” of sorts, not fully embraced by the reggae community or the Sunday morning church crowd.

    “Back then, we were trying to reach people our age with the main thrust being evangelism through our music and message,” Mohr said. “But after we went back to our worship roots, that is when we started connecting with the church and seeing people really coming to Christ. People will come to Jesus if you simply get out of the way and let Jesus draw them through worship.”



    In 2012, Christafari released “Reggae Worship: A Roots Revival,” the band’s first worship album in almost 20 years. The album catapulted them onto the Billboard Charts again and captured the hearts of many listeners.

    Mohr said Christian music should be defined by the song’s lyrical content and the person singing the song, and not by the sound itself.

    After traveling to nearly 56 countries, Mohr said he discovered “a cookie-cut music mentality” in many places where indigenous people groups abandoned their cultural wood, drum, string and unique instruments and embraced the Westernized “church sound” of guitars, keyboards and drums.

    “People need to embrace Jesus where they live, not the American version of Christianity and the music that comes with it,” Mohr said. “God gave all of us a unique culture and we need to embrace that as we worship.”

    Toopii said she left her job as a high school librarian in Maui, Hawaii about three years ago to help the band. Since then, the native Hawaiian said she’s seen the power of God heal and restore people, much like her own life.

    “I connected with Mark and the band because I had a similar past,” Toopii said. “My deliverance and rehab came when I finally came into a relationship with Christ.”

    Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Blackman comes from a musical family of 24 brothers and sisters, and a father, Ras Shorty I, a famous calypsonian who invented Soca and Jamoo music.

    Married to Christafari sax player Jacquie Gaviria, Jabby began his lifelong passion for Jamaican music when he first heard Bob Marley’s Live album at age 14 and was mesmerized by the social messages and spiritual themes.


    “We’re not just a reggae band, we’re all family,” Mohr said. “Our goal and passion is for people to come and meet Jesus.”

    The concert begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Calvary Chapel Apple Valley, 13601 Del Mar Road, just south of Highway 18 in the Village. For more information, call 760-240-3633 or visit For more information on Christafari, visit or search ‘Christafari’ on


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