It’s no exaggeration to say reggae music has been the Marley family business since the genre’s inception. Ziggy Marley, a second-generation purveyor of the Jamaican-born sound, brings his tribute to his father, Bob Marley, to Rose Music Center in Huber Heights on Saturday, Aug. 13.
The eight-time Grammy Award winner was born in Kingston in 1968. The same year, Toots & the Maytals released “Do the Reggay,” credited as the first song to use the word for the new brand of topical music emerging from the Jamaican ska and rocksteady. Bob Marley’s group, the Wailers, which later featured Ziggy’s mother, Rita, started performing in 1963. Like Toots Hibbert and many contemporaries influenced by marijuana and Rastafarianism, the Wailers began transitioning to the slower tempo music at the close of the 1960s.
In 1972, the elder Marley signed to Island Records and began releasing a string of albums that introduced reggae music to audiences throughout the world. In 1981, the revered singer and songwriter passed away at the age of 36, but he left behind a catalog of classics such as “I Shot the Sheriff,” “Get Up, Stand Up” and “Rastaman Vibrations.”
Those songs are also part of the current tribute set from Ziggy, who launched his own musical career in 1979. He and several siblings formed the Melody Makers, which released nine studio albums between 1985 and 2000. Ziggy soon embarked on a solo career that would quickly dwarf the international success of his former family band. His solo debut, “Dragonfly,” was released in 2003, followed by “Love Is My Religion” in 2006.
“More Family Time,” Ziggy’s latest full-length, was released in late 2020 and features Ben Harper, Sherly Crow, Angelique Kidjo, Tom Morello and other special guests. The unplanned pandemic project was the spiritual follow-up to his 2009 children’s release, “Family Time.” His last proper studio album, “Rebellion Rising,” was released in 2018.
“The Lucky One,” Ziggy’s latest single, was released in July. In February, the Marley Brothers, his project with siblings Stephen, Damian, Julian and Ky-Mani, released a cover of their dad’s song, “Cornerstone.”
Ziggy recently answered some questions about the current tour, his second children’s album and new music.
A: What does it mean to you to sing your father’s songs on stage?
Q: Well, I don’t think about what it means. I just think about how it feels. I focus on how it feels, and it feels real (and) deep. I’m not doing any of my songs during those shows – it’s only Bob. It’s a different experience from our regular shows. We just did some Bob shows in Europe and that was really great. We had a great reception. The message resonated and it brings people together, so it was a really good time. Europe is a different kind of place, man. It’s a different culture but the people really love reggae music.
Q: What was it like making “More Family Time” during lockdown?
A: It was something that happened spontaneously and kind of grew. I was just at home writing some songs. My son, who was 4 years old, would come over and make some funny sound. He’d say, ‘Goo goo, ga, ga,’ you know. He kind of inspired me to write some songs about him and what he was doing so that’s really where ‘More Family Time’ came from.”
Q: What was it like working remotely with the various special guests?
A: That was interesting because it’s the first time I’ve reached out to so many different people. It happened because we couldn’t see each other and normal activity wasn’t here anymore but we were able to make an album.
Q: Is it true you wrote your latest single, “The Lucky One,” for your wife?
A: Yeah, she said she was lucky, and I said, ‘No, I’m the lucky one here.’ I did it for her as a Valentine’s gift. I put it out on my Instagram page right on Valentine’s Day. It was the perfect gift. I don’t have to buy anything – I just write a song.
Q: Is it from an upcoming album or a standalone single?
A: It could be for my album, but we didn’t make it for that. Right now, it’s just a single but I feel like it could be on an album because I like it a lot.
Q: What made “Cornerstone” the right Bob song for the Marley Brothers to cover at this time?
A: We’ve been talking about it for a long time. ‘Cornerstone’ is one of Bob’s more meaningful songs to himself. It’s one of the first expressions of his experience that he put into song, so we just wanted to re-record it. The song had been recorded and we didn’t work together for a while, so we thought it was time to put something out. It took us a while, but we finally decided to put it out for Bob’s birthday.
Q: Anything else in the works with your brothers?
A: We’re always doing something but nothing to talk about right now. It’s always in the works.
Q: Do you have any recording plans?
A: I’m in the studio right now working on something. I’m always in the studio. We don’t know when we’re going to put out something but I’m going to dedicate some time to working on an album project after this tour. I have songs here and there and I want to work on an album but right now I’m focused on this touring season. We have a lot of Bob dates and we’re also hitting the road with Jack Johnson for some other dates. It’ll be a mixture so that should be very interesting. The Jack Johnson dates will allow me to get back into my songs a little bit. I’m looking forward to that experience.
Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or e-mail at email@example.com.
HOW TO GO
Who: Ziggy Marley with special guest Kazayah
When: Rose Music Center, 6800 Executive Blvd., Huber Heights
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
More info: 513-232-6220 or www.rosemusiccenter.com
Artist info: www.ziggymarley.com
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