Wed | Mar 3, 2021

Redemption for Bob Marley’s 75th ‘earthstrong’

Published:Monday | January 13, 2020 | 12:05 AMYasmine Peru/Senior Gleaner Writer
Bob Marley
Bob Marley

Having created a musical blaze in 2019, with ‘Catch A Fire’ as the celebratory theme for what would have been Bob Marley’s 74th birthday, the Marleys have now set the stage to be redeemed. This year’s diamond jubilee of the reggae legend and cultural icon will be celebrated under the theme ‘Marley 75: Redemption’. This was revealed on Saturday when the Bob Marley Foundation hosted the live Facebook launch event at the Tuff Gong International Studios in Kingston. Specially invited guests were hosted on property to watch, via a large screen set up in the yard, the concert which featured some of the Bob Marley 75 musical ambassadors. Among them were singers Kim Nain and Jahdore, as well as dancer and choreographer Catherine Reid.

This year’s ambassadors represent what Cedella Marley, daughter of Bob, calls a “diverse group who can represent creative professionals from all walks of life and all disciplines”.

Ambassadors include Daniel ‘Bambaata’ Marley, son of Ziggy; singer Delando Colley; producer Comar ‘Frankie’ Campbell; disc jock Francis ‘DJ Franco’ Asiedu; photographer Keanu ‘Deth’ Gordon; and Roshaine ‘Paige’ Taylor, creative artist and muralist. The slate of activities leading up to Bob Marley’s February 6 birthday was also announced.

“My father loved people and always wanted to make sure that he took care of those around him. We want to keep that tradition alive by helping the younger generation to be successful and develop their talents. We plan to host a number of workshops that will help these artistes to be prepared to stand a better chance of having a successful and long-lasting career in their chosen field,” Cedella is quoted in a release.

A ‘Marley 75: Redemption Concert’ will be staged on the day of Marley’s birth, referred to as his ‘earthstrong’ in Rastafari circles.

Activities begin at 7 a.m. at the Bob Marley Museum with a spiritual ceremony; gates open to the public at 10 a.m. The day’s menu includes the Rox in the Sox Children’s Musical and Book Festival – in partnership with One World Chorus led by Aaron Nigel Smith – children’s petting zoo, courtesy of Hope Zoo, and an artisan village. The curtain closer will be the live concert featuring the Marley brothers and the brand ambassadors.

The theme for the diamond jubilee is inspired by Marley’s Redemption Song, which is iconic for several reasons. It was Marley’s last single before his death on May 11, 1981, and practically sums up the legendary reggae singer’s life and the ideals of freedom and redemption which he cherished.

During the time of writing this ballad, he had been diagnosed with cancer and, according to Bob’s widow, Rita Marley, “He was already secretly in a lot of pain and dealt with his own mortality, a feature that is clearly apparent in the album, particularly in this song.”

Departure from normal themes

Redemption Song is a departure from most of Marley’s work and features him doing a solo acoustic recording, while playing an acoustic guitar, without accompaniment. The song is in the key of G major.

In 2014, Redemption Song appeared at number 66 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and in 2010, the New Statesman listed it as one of the Top 20 Political Songs.

Some key lyrics were derived from a speech given by Pan-Africanist orator and National Hero, Marcus Mosiah Garvey titled ‘The Work That Has Been Done’.

Bob Marley, who was born in Nine Miles, St Ann, in 1945, began his musical career in 1963 with The Wailers, where he forged a distinctive songwriting and vocal style that would later resonate with audiences worldwide.

After The Wailers disbanded in 1974, Marley pursued a solo career that culminated in the release of the album Exodus in 1977, which established his worldwide reputation and heralded his status as one of the world’s best-selling artistes of all time, with sales of more than 75 million records.

He received Jamaica’s Order of Merit award as a posthumous honour from the nation’s Government in recognition of his contributions to Jamaican culture and music. Several calls have been made for Jamaica’s most internationally recognised son to be honoured as a national hero.