Smile Jamaica concert returns next year

Published: Sunday | November 8, 2009

Krista Henry, Staff Reporter

United We Stand: The Marley brothers (from left) Ziggy, Julian, Ky-Mani, Stephen and Damian show solidarity onstage at the Smile Jamaica One Love tribute concert to Bob Marley, held on Saturday, February 23, 2008 at James Bond Beach, Oraccabessa, St Mary. – File

Nine Miles, St Ann, will be smiling once again as the Bob Marley celebratory concert, Smile Jamaica, returns to the reggae icon's home.

The concert will culminate Bob Marley Week and will be a major feature once more of Reggae Month. The show, which is scheduled for Bob Marley's birthday, Saturday, February 6, 2010, enjoys the support of the Jamaica Tourist Board and the Jamaica Cultural and Development Commission.

Jerome Hamilton of Headline Entertainment, in an interview with The Sunday Gleaner, explained, "In 2007, Ghetto Youths International wanted to stage an event that would honour Marley and we decided to keep it in Bob's hometown. In 2008, Smile Jamaica and Africa Unite combined for a memorable event, and Smile Jamaica took a break in 2009. Everything has its season, the timing wasn't ideal last year but Ghetto Youths thought it prudent to stage it for 2010."

Marley magic

While the 2008 concert took place on the shores of James Bond Beach in St Mary, in February the hills of Nine Miles, walking distance from Marley's resting place, will be lit with a little Marley magic once more.

In December 1976, at National Heroes Park in Kingston, the first Smile Jamaica concert was held, featuring Bob Marley and the Wailers. The event took place two days after Marley had almost been killed by gunmen in his house, but survived and sought solace in the Blue Mountains. Nevertheless, Marley agreed to perform one song for the 80,000 people in attendance, which turned into a 90-minute performance despite his injuries. All Wailers performed except bassman Aston 'Family Man' Barrett. After this concert, Marley went on a self-imposed exile that saw him travelling to Bermuda, the United States and the United Kingdom. He returned in 1978 for the One Love Peace Concert held at the National Stadium.

Once again, said Hamilton, persons can experience the mystical aura of the show 'The Gong' started 33 years ago.

"Although it may sound cliché, when the concert was held in Nine Miles it had a mystical feeling. In that location you get a more intimate feeling, close to Marley's resting place and his birth place - you really feel connected. This year it falls exactly on Marley's birthday and closes the week of celebrations. Each year we get a good representation, a wide cross section of persons, even as far as from Australia, and a lot of international media."

Since the 2008 concert, the Marley clan has released a number of new material including Julian Marley's album Awake, Ziggy Marley's children-oriented Family Time, Stephen Marley's acoustic version of his debut album, Mind Control, and Ky-Mani Marley's Radio. Damian Marley, while working on a collaborative album with rapper Nas, has also released singles.

Hamilton said when the brothers unite for the show it will be a memorable experience.


"It will be like Bob Marley's music - timeless and always enjoyable. There will also certainly be overseas acts," he said. The last Smile Jamaica at James Bond Beach saw performances by Rihanna, a guest appearance from then boyfriend Chris Brown and John Legend.

Part proceeds from the concert will go to the Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment (URGE) Foundation and the Ghetto Youth Foundation, the charitable arm of Ghetto Youths International founded by Bob Marley's offsprings. The foundation provides support for schools and reading programmes in St Ann and Kingston. The organisation has also provided assistance to hospitals and clinics to benefit children of lesser means and greater need.

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