Ky-Mani Marley gets personal in autobiography
Published: Sunday | November 22, 2009
Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer
Although he is the son of music royalty, Ky-Mani Marley says life has not always been a bed of roses. The 33-year-old singer/actor tells his story in Dear Dad, his autobiography to be released February 6.
Marley is best known for minor hit songs like Dear Dad and Warriors and roles in movies such as One Love, as well as starring in a hit reality show on Black Entertainment Television (BET). But he says his childhood was difficult, even though his father was reggae superstar Bob Marley.
"I've lived a life many cannot imagine. Many people don't even know half the things I've been through," Marley told The Sunday Gleaner from his south Florida base.
In Dear Dad, he revisits those years of strife. He said he lived with his mother Anita Belnavis in a two-bedroom board house in her hometown of Falmouth, Trelawny, where he was born.
Belnavis was a leading table tennis player in the Caribbean in the 1970s, and one of several women with whom Bob Marley had children outside of marriage.
change for the better
Marley said things did not improve after he and his mother moved to Miami, Florida, when he was nine years old. They lived in the tough, crime-prone community of Liberty City, scene of many riots during the 1980s.
"That was another two-bedroom house worse than where we were living in Jamaica," he said.
Life changed for the better in 1994, 13 years after his father's death from cancer at age 36. He gained a considerable financial settlement from the Marley estate which, among other things, provided for Bob's 'outside' children.
"I can tell you that that was a big relief for me, my mother, my auntie. We were living on nothing, really," Marley recalled.
He also comments on his relationship with his father's wife, Rita, and her children for Marley but stays clear of sensationalism.
"I tell the truth; I'm not stepping on toes to create conflict. But I tell no lies," he said.
Dear Dad, which will be distributed in five languages, was done with the assistance of a professional writer. It will be released in association with Dr Farrah Gray, the influential African-American empowerment guru who lives in Las Vegas, on what would have been Bob Marley's 65th birthday.
Several Marley biographies have been written since the singer's death.
Some have raised eyebrows, the most notorious being 1995's Marley and Me, written by his former manager Don Taylor.
Rita Marley's No Woman No Cry: My Life With Bob Marley, was released in May 2004.
Like his brothers Ziggy, Stephen, Damian and Julian, Ky-Mani Marley has focused on a music career and has done fairly well. He has recorded four albums, the first being Like Father, Like Son, which was released in 1996.
His last studio effort was Radio, which was released in 2007.
He also starred in the low-budget action films, Shottas and One Love. His Living The Life of Marley reality show first aired on BET in 2007.