It never gets old, not since May 11, 1981 anyway, following the death of Robert Nesta Marley, has his family, friends and fans neglected commemorating the legacy he imprinted as the king of reggae, the irrefutable world’s first Third World superstar and a global icon.
This year is no different, on the 77th anniversary of his birth in Jamaica, the city council of Toronto, Canada issued a proclamation declaring Feb. 6 his date for honor.
Following a reading of the official document by Mayor John Tory last Sunday, eight community leaders were presented Bob Marley Humanitarian Awards.
It’s the 31st year the North American city has acknowledged the Rastafarian ambassador who promoted “one love” unification in songs.
“Each year we take time to honor the best of the best, people — acting in the diversity spirit of Bob Marley’s One Love,—who have worked hard to make our country a better place for all,” organizing committee member Courtney Betty said.
The Canadian Marley advocate further stated; “As the diverse population continues its tremendous growth, it becomes even more critical that the doors of opportunities are open to all.”
In California, Cali Vibes launched a two-day reggae event which started on Feb. 4 billing the Marley brothers in a tribute concert livestreamed on the TuffGongTV channel marking “Bob Marley Birthday Celebration.”
Featuring Marley’s sons — Stephen, Ziggy, Damian, Julian and Ky-Mani — the songs of their famous father highlighted the west coast gathering in Long Beach.
Added to performances from the inheritors, an eclectic lineup of benefactors sampled hip-hop and other music genres with Jamaican dancehall Grammy-winning artists Sean Paul, Shaggy and Koffee showcasing the evolution of the drum and bass driven sound.
Celebrations of the legend continues with the Feb, 9 opening of an eight-month exhibition at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.
Slated to end on Oct. 16, reports are that visitors to the music archive will be able to see Marley family artifacts from the “Marley: A Family Legacy” exhibit.
Reportedly, included are items belonging to Sharon, custom-made Catch a Fire clothing outfits from Cedella, Ziggy’s Ovation guitar, a dashiki top worn on Julian’s “As I Am” album cover, Ky-Mani’s Ovation guitar, album proofs from Damian’s “Distant Relatives” recording, Rita Marley’s dress and wrap and a special tribute edition Bob Marley Gibson guitar.
“The Grammy Museum has a long-standing relationship with the Marley family,” Nicholas Vega, curator and director of exhibitions said in a statement. “These exhibits continue to honor and recognize the lasting legacies of the groundbreaking artist.”
Renowned as the greatest reggae artist of all time, Marley’s passing on May 11, 1981 spawned the International Reggae Music Awards, the first awards dedicated to the genre.
Expanded later to include ignored music forms, the IRAWMA now hails African world music, Caribbean calypso, Haitian kreyole and other Third World creations.
Three years following Ephraim Martin’s brainchild, the Grammy added a category honoring the music Marley promoted throughout his lifetime.
Marley’s storied career did not end when he died at age 36, in 1994 he was posthumously inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A myriad of awards followed with a lifetime achievement award in 2001 and induction to the Song Writers Hall Of Fame in 2010.
Marley’s massive “Africa Unite” 60th birthday celebrations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2005 remain a standout event which attracted 360,000 fans to Meskel Square.
In Jamaica where Reggae Month is being hailed, amplified calls for Marley to be named a National Hero are also being echoed. Perhaps during the island’s 60th anniversary of independence celebration in August another Marley milestone will manifest.
Catch You On the Inside!