Culture Award Winner
A true freedom fighter and revolutionary Bob Marley was born Robert Nesta Marley on February 6, 1945. Bob was born to Cedella Marley when she was 18. Bob’s early life was spent in rural community of Nine Miles, nestled in the mountainous terrain of the parish of St. Ann. Residents of Nine Miles have preserved many customs derived from their African ancestry especially the art of storytelling as a means of sharing the past and time-tested traditions that are oftentimes overlooked in official historical sources. The proverbs, fables and various chores associated with rural life that were inherent to Bob’s childhood would provide a deeper cultural context and an aura of mysticism to his adult songwriting.
Norval and Cedella married in 1945 but Captain Marley’s family strongly disapproved of their union; although the elder Marley provided financial support, the last time Bob Marley saw his father was when he was five years old; at that time, Norval took his son to Kingston to live with his nephew, a businessman, and to attend school. Eighteen months later Cedella learned that Bob wasn’t going to school and was living with an elderly couple. Alarmed, she went to Kingston, found Bob and brought him home to Nine Miles.
In 1971 Bob Marley went to Sweden to collaborate on a film score with American singer Johnny Nash. Bob secured a contract with Nash’s label CBS Records and by early 1972 The Wailers were in London promoting their single “Reggae On Broadway”; CBS, however, had little faith in Marley and The Wailers’ success and abruptly abandoned the group there. Marley paid a chance visit to the London offices of Island Records and the result was a meeting with label founder Chris Blackwell. Marley sought the finances to record a single but Blackwell suggested the group record an album and advanced them £4,000, an unheard of sum to be given to a Jamaican act.
Island’s top reggae star Jimmy Cliff had recently left the label and Blackwell saw Marley as the ideal artist to fill that void and attract an audience primed for rock music. “I was dealing with rock music, which was really rebel music and I felt that would really be the way to break Jamaican music. But you needed someone who could be that image. When Bob walked in he really was that image,” Blackwell once reflected. Despite their “rude boy” reputation, the Wailers returned to Kingston and honored their agreement with Blackwell. They delivered their “Catch A Fire” album in April 1973 to extensive international media fanfare. Tours of Britain and the US were quickly arranged and the life of Bob Marley was forever changed. Bunny Wailer refused to participate in the US leg of the “Catch A Fire” tour so the Wailers’ mentor Joe Higgs served as his replacement. Their US gigs included an opening slot for a then relatively unknown Bruce Springsteen in New York City. The Wailers toured with Sly and the Family Stone, who were at their peak in the early 70s, but were removed after just four dates because their riveting performances, reportedly, upstaged the headliner.
Following the successful “Catch A Fire” tour the Wailers promptly recorded their second album for Island Records, “Burnin”, which was released in October 1973. Featuring some of Bob’s most celebrated songs “Burnin” introduced their timeless anthem of insurgency “Get Up Stand Up” and “I Shot The Sheriff”, which Eric Clapton covered and took to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974; Clapton’s cover significantly elevated Bob Marley’s international profile, the same year that Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer left the group.
The Bob Marley influence upon various populations remains unparalleled, irrespective of race, color or creed. Bob Marley’s revolutionary yet unifying music, challenging colonialism, racism, “fighting against ism and scism” as he sang in “One Drop”, has had profound effects even in country’s where English isn’t widely spoken. In August 2008, two musicians from the war scarred countries of Serbia and Croatia (formerly provinces within Yugoslavia) unveiled a statue of Bob Marley during a rock music festival in Serbia; the monument’s inscription read “Bob Marley Fighter For Freedom Armed With A Guitar”. “Marley was chosen because he promoted peace and tolerance in his music,” said Mirko Miljus, an organizer of the event.
In Koh Lipe, Thailand, Bob Marley’s February 6th birthday is celebrated for three days with a cultural festival. In New Zealand, his life and music are now essential components of Waitangi Day (February 6) observances honoring the unifying treaty signed between the country’s European settlers and its indigenous Maori population. When Bob visited New Zealand for a concert at Auckland’s Western Springs Stadium on April 6, 1979, the Maori greeted him with a traditional song and dance ceremony reserved for visiting dignitaries. Marley’s former manager, the late Don Taylor, referred to the Maori welcoming ritual as “one of my most treasured memories of the impact of Bob and reggae music on the world”.
On April 17, 1980 when the former British colony of Rhodesia was liberated and officially renamed Zimbabwe and the Union Jack replaced with the red, gold, green and black Zimbabwean flag, it is said that the first words officially spoken in the new nation were “ladies and gentlemen, Bob Marley and the Wailers”. For the Zimbabwean freedom fighters that listened to Bob Marley, inspiration and strength were drawn from his empowering lyrics. Marley penned a tribute to their efforts, “Zimbabwe”, which was included on the most overtly political album of his career, 1979’s “Survival” and he was invited to headline their official liberation celebrations. Zimbabwean police used tear gas to control the crowds that stampeded through the gates of Harare’s Rufaro Stadium to get a glimpse of Marley onstage. As several members of Marley’s entourage fled for cover, he returned to the stage to perform “Zimbabwe”, his words resounding with a greater urgency amidst the ensuing chaos: “to divide and rule could only tear us apart, in everyman chest, there beats a heart/so soon we’ll find out who is the real revolutionaries and I don’t want my people to be tricked by mercenaries.” “There was smoke everywhere, our eyes filled with tears so we ran off,” recalls Marcia Griffiths, who sang backup for Marley, alongside Rita Marley and Judy Mowatt, as the I-Threes. “When Bob saw us the next day he smiled and said now we know who are the real revolutionaries.”
Bob Marley Live Forever.
The Pittsburgh show took place just two days after Marley learned that the cancer that had taken root in his big toe in 1977, following a football injury, had metastasized and spread throughout his body. Bob courageously fought the disease for eight months, even traveling to Germany to undergo treatment at the clinic of Dr. Josef Issels. At the beginning of May 1981, Bob left Germany to return to Jamaica but he did not complete that journey; he succumbed to his cancer in a Miami hospital on May 11, 1981.
The Bob Marley biography doesn’t end there. In April 1981 Bob Marley was awarded Jamaica’s third highest honor, the Order of Merit, for his outstanding contribution to his country’s culture. Ten days after Bob Marley’s death, he was given a state funeral as the Honorable Robert Nesta Marley O.M. by the Jamaican government, attended by Prime Minister Edward Seaga and the Opposition Party Leader Michael Manley. Hundreds of thousands of spectators lined the streets to observe the procession of cars that wound its way from Kingston to Bob’s final resting place, a mausoleum in his birthplace of Nine Miles. The Bob Marley and the Wailers legend lives on, however, and thirty years after Bob Marley’s death, his music remains as vital as ever in its celebration of life and embodiment of struggle. Source;Bob Marley.com
Bob Marley’s spirit lives on and still today offers inspiration, hope and much more to the people. Culture Tv & Broadcasting is Honored to give the first Culture Award to Bob Marley for his Contribution to not only the reggae music world but to the world in its entirety.