Wed | Nov 29, 2023

Skip Marley named 2022 Jamaica Poetry Festival youth ambassador

Published:Tuesday | July 5, 2022 | 12:10 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
Skip Marley has accepted an invitation to act in the role of youth ambassador for the 2022 Jamaica Poetry Festival.
Skip Marley has accepted an invitation to act in the role of youth ambassador for the 2022 Jamaica Poetry Festival.

On the heels of the Recording Academy’s announcement that an award category for poetry has been added for the 65th Grammy Awards in 2023, reggae recording artiste Skip Marley has accepted an invitation to act in the role of youth ambassador for the 2022 Jamaica Poetry Festival (JPF).

The two-time Grammy Award-nominated artiste said he was excited to perform and present because, as a singer and songwriter, his focus “is on the power of lyrics and the energy of music to take people to a higher place”.

Speaking to The Gleaner about the Grammy Awards’ latest addition – the Best Spoken Word Poetry Album category – Skip Marley said, “It only makes sense for poetry to be included in the Grammys.” He added: “It’s natural. Lyrics are poetry, and poetry is a form of music, with its different cadences and rhythms.”

Skip called the designation an honour and said he was excited to perform. “It’s an honour to be the first JPF youth ambassador, and I’m very excited to perform, [so] I give thanks for the invitation. We need to let the youth know there are positive ways to express themselves and that their words have meaning,” he said.

With the release of Higher Place, Skip Marley’s long-awaited debut project for Island Records, the young lion’s star continues to rise. Pursuing music as a career was never his plan, but his uncle Stephen ‘Ragga’ Marley first thrust him into the spotlight during the Revelation Part One Tour in 2011.

Four years later, Skip Marley released his debut single, Cry To Me, on the Tuff Gong International label, eventually signing with Island Records. In 2017, Katy Perry accidentally overheard his music and invited him to collaborate on Chained to the Rhythm, a platinum single that led to live performances at the Grammy Awards and the BRIT Awards. It’s gone like that for Skip Marley every step of the way. Trusting his natural instincts has carried him along the path so far. His single Change was a feel-good track that was released at a suitable time, following the pandemic, when the world needed positive lyrics, and the reception to the track prompted a tour.

Skip Marley said, “collaborating with Katy Perry and H.E.R., and so many other incredible international artistes like Rick Ross, Ari Lennox, Major Lazer, French Montana, Bugzy Malone, Davido and Oxlade, have each been unique experiences that pushed me creatively and brought the music to new audiences. My grandfather showed us all that Jamaicans can take we ting to di world,[so] as a third-generation Marley, I’m proud to carry that legacy forward.”

He recently completed the first leg of the Change Tour, but Skip Marley has not slowed down. Instead, he has joined his uncle, Stephen Marley, on some of his tour dates which he described as “school” because everything has been a learning process.

“Love, unity, and positivity are the driving forces in my life, and those values were instilled by my family. That, and hard work. Right now, we’re in an intermission, but the second leg of the Change Tour (which is my first headlining tour) picks up again in September all over the US. It’s been a blessing to connect with new audiences every night,” Skip Marley shared.

With the intermission, he will also be able to fulfil his duties as a JPF youth ambassador. The poetry festival, which is in its 12th year, is slated for Sunday, August 14, and, shortly after, Skip Marley will continue the second leg of the tour. He said that his music is an opportunity to represent the country of his birth, a role of which he couldn’t be prouder.

“I’m usually in the studio working, or exercising, or spending time with my family and my dog. Jamaica is full of beautiful locations, but my grandfather’s old home at 56 Hope Road is a place I go to reconnect. Jamaica is where I was born, and I’m proud to represent the island’s rich cultural heritage through my music releases, live shows, social media, and participation in events like JPF 2022,” Skip Marley said.