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Remembering Bob Marley

Reggae icon, Bob Marley would have been 67 years old today. It’s interesting to see how many people Bob touched with the message of his music.

When I was planning my trip to South Africa, I happened upon a link to an Earth Festival that was being put on by the Knysna Rasta Village. I called the village right away and made arrangements to visit. I looked forward to the tour and to meet these South African Rastas. When we got to Cape Town, however, we had so many things scheduled, we had to postpone the trip which was about a day’s drive away.

Bob Marley, photo from the Jamaica Gleaner

Bob Marley, photo from the Jamaica Gleaner

If Bob’s music had reached this community in South Africa, imagine my surprise when I saw the documentary, He Koha Ma Bob Marley. It followed the Maori musician, Ruia Aperahama, as he traveled to Bob Marley’s former home in Trench Town, Jamaica and presented a gift to the Marley family. According to Aperahama, Bob came along “when it wasn’t cool to be Maori, it wasn’t cool to speak our language, it wasn’t cool to be ourselves.” His music gave them hope and helped them see themselves. Talk about reach and impact.

Here in Jamaica, a week of activities are planned to mark the singer’s birthday. Meanwhile, more voices here have been added to the list of people calling for the Jamaican government to make the Rastaman a national hero and to designate his birthplace and final resting place in Nine Mile, St. Ann, an official tourist attraction.

Listen here to Natural Mystic, one of my favorites.

A new biopic, Marley, which was created in collaboration with the family, will hold its World Premiere this month at the 62nd Berlin Film Festival. It will have its North American premiere at South by Southwest film festival in March and open in theaters on April 20th.

Without a doubt, Bob Marley is more popular now than when he was alive. From the Jamaica Observer, here are a list of awards and honors he has received:

* March, 1994 — Bob Marley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In his tribute, British singer Robert Palmer said, “No one in rock and roll has left a musical legacy that matters more or one that matters in such fundamental ways.”

* Exodus, the ninth studio album for Bob Marley and the Wailers, was recognised as Time magazine’s Album of the Century in 1999. The album contains the tracks Waiting In Vain, Three Little Birds and One Love.

* On February 6, 2001, Bob Marley was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It would have been his 56th birthday.

* February 2001, Marley received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Rebel Music, the documentary on his life, was also nominated for Best Long Form Music Video at the Grammys.

* In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Marley number 11 on its list of 100 Greatest Artistes of All Time. In the Rolling Stone article, rapper Wyclef Jean said, “Marley brought the idea that through music, empowerment and words, you can really come up with world peace”.

* One Love, the song Marley and the Wailers first recorded at Studio One in the 1960s, was named Song of the Millennium by the British Broadcasting Corporation.

* Marley was voted one of the greatest lyricists of all time by a BBC poll in 2004.

* 2006: A blue plaque was unveiled at his first British residence in Ridgemount Gardens, London. It was dedicated by the Nubian Jack Community Trust and supported by Her Majesty’s Foreign Office.

* In 2008, a statue of Marley was unveiled in Serbia during a rock festival as a token of peace. Musicians from Croatia and Serbia were joined by fans for the midnight ceremony

* In 2010, the classic 1973 album, Catch a Fire, was among 25 inductees into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Other Marley productions previously inducted include Get Up, Stand Up, No Woman No Cry, Exodus and One Love.

What’s your favorite Bob Marley song?

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BOB!