Ziggy Marley to Play at the Cascade Theatre
● By Phil Reser
Perfect HumanityNovember 2014
By Phil Reser
David Nesta Marley was born in 1968 in Kingston, Jamaica, and given the nickname of Ziggy by his father, reggae superstar Bob Marley.
For years, Ziggy recorded and toured with his brother Stephen and sisters Sharon and Cedella as the Melody Makers.
It all began with his father giving him guitar and drum lessons as a young boy. He sat in on recording sessions with Bob Marley and the Wailers when he was 10.
In 1979, he, his brother and their sisters joined their father in his studio to record the single “Children Playing in the Streets.” That was the beginning of the Melody Makers, who continued to play together at family events and even performed at their father’s state funeral in 1981. By 1988, the record “The Conscious Party” won a Grammy Award and produced the hit songs “Tomorrow People” and “Tumbling Down.” The follow-up album, “One Bright Day,” made the top 20 and, like its predecessor, won another Grammy. In 1997, “Fallen Is Babylon,” scored a third Grammy for the group.
“It’s natural for us to be compared to our father,” Marley says. “We’re his kids. I’m his son. Even if I wasn’t in music, even if my father was a carpenter, some guy in Jamaica would go, ‘You’re just like Bob. You’re just like your father.’”
After two decades with the Melody Makers, Ziggy made a solo album called “Dragonfly,” a record with strong messages, both political and personal growth. The title track was told from the perspective of animals seeing what mankind has done to the earth.
His second solo CD, “Love is My Religion,” received the 2007 Grammy for Best Reggae album. He intended to follow up with another adult album, but was inspired to do a collection of island inflected slow jams laced with humanitarian messages for youngsters.
This resulted in another Grammy for Best Children’s Album, “Family Time,” which included musical contributions from Willie Nelson and Paul Simon.
Explains Ziggy: “Back in my earlier days, I would usually sing about what was going on in politics or in social circumstances, and I still do every now and again. But generally, now, I have come to the conclusion that my songs need to be more connected to the emotional aspect of humanity, the spiritual aspect of humanity. I still have my political views, but I don’t see myself as a political artist. Music is spiritual, and within that some politics still live, but it’s not the main force anymore.”
He recently won his third solo Grammy (and sixth overall) with his 2013 live album, “Ziggy Marley in Concert,” which won Best Reggae Album. The award comes on the heels of his current tour to support his recent CD, “Fly Rasta.”
“With every album, I bring in songs that I have written over a certain period of time, and the goal is to make a really good sounding album that tries to push the boundaries and carry the music forward,” he says. “Fly Rasta is a little futuristic for me in that it tests the limits of traditional reggae musically, while lyrically I’m writing a lot in these 10 songs about overcoming obstacles. They’re based on some of the tougher times I’ve been through and some require listeners to read between the lines to get at the deeper meanings. It’s been many years since I sang with both of my sisters and Erica, so I wanted to bring their distinctive style to the new album as well.”
To coincide with the “Fly Rasta project,” Ziggy has released a new children’s book, “I Love You Too,” based on one of his songs of the same title from his album “Family Time,” which explores a child’s relationship with parents, nature and the unstoppable force of love.
Ziggy founded Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment (URGE), which works to help children in Jamaica and Ethiopia, and contributes time and financial assistance to Little Kids Rock, a nonprofit that provides free musical instruments and free lessons to public school children throughout the United States.
About his sense of responsibility as an artist, he says,”a musician must find that type of calling through his own consciousness. It was my dad’s idea that music is supposed to be about more than simply entertainment and making a living, but about being of service as an integral part of the consciousness of the world. In honor of him and because it’s right, I use music in that light. My family experiences are always living within me. As I continue to explore the way music impacts people both physiologically and psychologically, my own expression as a songwriter and artist continues to grow.”
Nov. 7, Cascade Theatre