Culture Ministry stages birthday concert for Bob Marley at Emancipation Park today
February 6, the birthday of Robert Nesta ‘Bob’ Marley, is a day that is celebrated throughout the reggae-loving world, with not just the playing of songs from the icon’s extensive catalogue, but also with concerts, dances and all things musical.
In Jamaica, Emancipation Park in New Kingston will be the venue for today’s free Bob Marley concert which is being held in commemoration of the 79th birthday of reggae’s most celebrated singer and musician.
Staged by the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, this Reggae Month-endorsed event starts at 7 p.m. and features an A-list line-up of reggae artistes. Julian Marley, son of Bob Marley; Marcia Grifiths, a member of the I-Three, which backed Marley; veterans Max Romeo, George Nooks, Admiral Tibet and Dennis Walks; the Fireman, Capleton; the Strong One, Etana; Lutan Fyah, Gyptian, Droop Lion, G Whizz, and the Blak Soil Band are all confirmed for this special musical tribute.
Max Romeo, himself a reggae icon, has taken the music across the globe for 57 years, and will officially retire from touring this year. He kicks off his The Ultimate Tour on March 29 in Tel Aviv with his children Xana and Azizzi, and both Droop Lion and Lutan Fyah will be his special guests.
The Macabee Version singer crossed path with Marley many times over the years and he shared that “it will be an honour to perform for Bob Marley”.
“It’s been a few years since I performed in Jamaica ... my last performance here was at Rebel Salute in 2018. So, seeing that this is my farewell year for touring, this will a great way to start it off. This is for Bob Marley, so if I am summoned, there is no way I could say ‘No’. Bob and I were born near each other in St Ann and our paths also crossed in Bully Bay,” Max Romeo told The Gleaner.
Like the other artistes on the line-up, he will be performing one song from Marley’s catalogue in tribute to the reggae icon, as well as two of his own during the time he has been allotted onstage.
In 1963, Bob Marley started his professional musical career, after forming the Teenagers with Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, a group which would later become the Wailers. Their debut album The Wailing Wailers (1965) contained the single One Love, and its popularity established them as rising figures in reggae. After signing to Island Records the band’s name became Bob Marley and The Wailers. They started to gain international attention, touring in support of the albums Catch a Fire and Burnin’. By 1974 the group broke up and Marley carried on under the band’s name.
Marley had his international breakthrough in 1975 with his first hit outside Jamaica, a live version of No Woman, No Cry. This was followed by his breakthrough album in the United States, Rastaman Vibration, which reached the Top 50 of the Billboard Soul Charts. Shortly after the album’s release Marley survived an assassination attempt in Jamaica, and he relocated to London, where he recorded the critically acclaimed album, Exodus.
In 1977, Marley was diagnosed with cancer. He died on May 11, 1981, and was given a state funeral in Jamaica.
The greatest hits album Legend was released in 1984, and became the best-selling reggae album of all time. Rolling Stone ranked him No. 11 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. His other achievements include a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and induction into the Black Music & Entertainment Walk of Fame and an Order of Merit from the Jamiacan Government.