Flashback to February 10, 2013.
It was a “did you see it” moment, one of the most talked about performance in music history, when a tuxedoed Ziggy and Damian Marley joined the likes of Sting, Rihanna, and Bruno Mars in a tribute to Bob Marley at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards Ceremony at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. Indeed, it was an explosive meeting of some of the most creative musical minds from across the Diaspora. Most importantly, reggae music was being seen on prime time television, broadcast to millions of people.
Forward to January 26, 2014.
As Ziggy Marley and his wife, Orly Marley, headed to the red carpet at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center, a crimson haired Cyndi Lauper, host of the pre-telecast ceremony held at adjacent the Nokia Theatre, announced that Ziggy Marley had won his fifth Grammy in the Best Reggae Album category for “Ziggy Marley Live” in Concert,” released on the family’s Tuff Gong Worldwide label. His competition: Sly and Robbie, Beres Hammond, Sizzla and Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion, the hip hop mogul who briefly journeyed into reggae with his album “Reincarnated.”
“We are honored and humbled to be recognized by the Recording Academy,” said Orly Marley, executive producer of “Ziggy Marley Live in Concert.” Ziggy Marley follows his brother Stephen Marley (six Grammy wins) as the most awarded artist in the Best Reggae Album category, as a solo artist and with the Melody Makers, which included his siblings, Stephen, Cedella and Sharon. In 2010, Ziggy earned a Grammy for Best Children’s Album for “Family Time.”
In June, 2013, Marley picked up an Emmy Award for best original song in a children’s or animation program, for “I Love You Too!” from Disney Channel’s “3rd and Bird.” (Incidentally, “I Love You Too!” was also featured in Tyler Perry’s movie “Why Did I Get Married, Too,” starring Janet Jackson).
And so the Marley brand of success continues. Singer, songwriter, music producer, guitarist, Grammy winner, Emmy winner, author, film producer, and radio show host, activist—these are all titles that Ziggy Marley holds.
As a wellness advocate, Marley also launched Ziggy Marley Organics, a line of non-GMO cooking products, including favored coconut oil and hemp seeds.
Flashback to July 5, 2013, when Ziggy Marley played to a sold out house at the posh Mountain Winery in Saratoga, CA. His opening act—Birmingham, England’s own Grammy-winning reggae band, Steel Pulse. Marley’s set list included some of the conscious, high energy tracks that can be heard on “Ziggy Marley Live in Concert” –“Jah Will Be Done,” “Forward to Love,” “Black Cat,” “Reggae in My Head” and “Tomorrow People.” Ziggy’s multi-racial, multi-talented band included Santa Davis (drums), Ian “Beezy” Coleman (guitar), and Angel Roche (percussion) Takeshi Akimoto (lead guitar), Pablo Stennet (bass) and Tracy Hazzard (backing vocals). Also, sitting in on percussion was Ziggy’s adorable young son, Gideon; possibly one of the younger generation of Marley’s who will carry the musical torch.
After the show, I caught up with Ziggy Marley for a brief interview. In his dressing room, cooling down after the show in a classic white T-shirt and broken in jeans, Marley discussed his recent triumphs, starting with his Emmy win.
“It was very sudden,” said Marley. “I mean, I’d heard about the nomination months before, but it wasn’t constant in my head, so I actually forgot that I was nominated. When I heard about the award, it kind of took me by surprise. It is a good feeling, because it keeps moving me out of boxes. Everything we do is about stepping out of boxes and getting over boundaries. I enjoy doing that.”
Ziggy Marley grew up in the limelight; as a child; he toured and danced on stage with his father and as a pre-teen, formed Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers with his siblings. Now a proud father of six, Marley is also wildly popular with children and has become an advocate for their well-being. Marley’s eldest son, Daniel “Bam” Marley, duets with him on the song “Changes,” on his 2011 album “Wild and Free.” “I Love You Too,” the award-winning song and the illustrated children’s book, were inspired by his daughter, Judah. Love, Marley said, is a constant theme in his music and his message to the younger generation.
“I think it’s cool,” said Marley. “You have the music and now you have the lyrics in a book with nice art work and you can read it to the kids or to anybody. It is about love and love is ageless. Keeping the children a part of what I do is very important.”
I asked Marley what it was like making history with his brother, Damian, by performing at the 2013 Grammys.
“It was good, again out of the box, breaking down barriers, moving forward, making progress—progress that you can physically see,” said Marley. “It is the blessings of the Most High, really, which cause these things. As long as we continue to be true to our purpose, then hopefully, more doors will be open and more boundaries will be crossed until we get to where we need to be.”
Marley, who is often low-keyed and sometimes shy, admitted that he is becoming more comfortable walking the red carpet these days. “I still don’t like it,” Marley joked. “Mi wife haffi get me dressed and these things, ‘cause I’m not a big dresser. But I see it as a means to get the message out any way we can. Sometimes, you have to put down your own walls in order to get what you need to get across, you know, to make it grow more. I’m not doing it for any egotistical reasons—because I want to be on the red carpet or, hey, look at me, I’m on the red carpet! It’s not about promoting myself, but promoting my ideas and messages.”
In terms of film, Ziggy Marley and Tuff Gong Worldwide have produced the critically acclaimed documentary “Marley,” based on the life of his iconic father, and “Marley Africa Road Trip.” Marley laughed heartily when I asked if he was now chasing an Oscar. “Yeah, I mean, with creativity, I’m wide open, but it’s not something that I’m running down or chasing after; it’s something that I have inside of me.”