Smile Jamaica 2017 on December 2
Saturday night's Smile Jamaica 40th anniversary commemoration at the Bob Marley Museum was a sign of things to come in St Ann next December. Marie Bruce, general manager of the Bob Marley Museum, told the gathering: "If you think this is something tonight, wait until 2017 rolls around."
The 2017 Smile Jamaica concert will be held on December 2 at Grizzly's Plantation Cove, St Ann, then annually on, or as close as possible to, the anniversary of the original December 5, 1976 historic concert at Heroes Circle, Kingston.
"We want to see Smile Jamaica as a staple on the entertainment calendar," Bruce said.
Robert Bryan of Grizzly's, accompanied by Pratik Ruparell of PDP Entertainment, explained further that Smile Jamaica will include overseas entertainers as well as Jamaicans. Stephen Marley is co-executive director of the festival, as well as musical director, and the promise is to produce the event to the "highest international standard".
Bryan gave a broad overview of plans to develop Grizzly's Plantation Cove into "the ultimate Jamaican entertainment experience", a major part of which will be The Bob Marley One Love Square. In due course, a new statue will be commissioned for the square. Bryan said the space is intended to be "the most comprehensive outdoor-event venue in Jamaica".
Well before the Smile Jamaica concert in February, there will be the celebration of Bob Marley's 72nd birthday, under the theme Exodus. Debbie Bissoon said the celebrations will begin at 56 Hope Road in the morning and there will be a symposium around marijuana.
This year's ambassadors for the celebration are Jah9, Dre Island and Runkus, all of whom performed at the Smile Jamaica 40th anniversary commemorative event at the Bob Marley Museum on Saturday night. As the birthday falls on a Monday, the now standard concert, done with Digicel and Red Stripe, will be held on Sunday, February 5.
Saturday night was also used to announce the planned Bob and Rita Marley Visitors' Centre at the museum, Bruce and Rohan Marley unveiling the plaque which will mark the spot. Marley read the inscription, which quoted the song Harambe.
Speaking about the 40th anniversary of Smile Jamaica, Marley said: "It's bittersweet today. We are celebrating the 40th anniversary, but we do remember that day when things happened and things took place. But through the love of the Almighty, we forgive, but we never forget."