Happy Birthday Bob Marley, Champion of the People
BY: John “Hennry” Harris
Today, February 6, marks what would have been Nesta Robert Marley‘s 71st birthday. Internationally known as Bob Marley, the Jamaican singer-songwriter achieved world-wide accolades through a distinctive songwriting and vocal style that resonated with people; especially, oppressed peoples or people in struggle.
Bob Marley’s desire to uplift people, according to lore, started with his own family not accepting him because of color. Bob Marley’s father was a white captain in the Royal Marines and his mother, Cedella Booker, was an 18-year-old plantation worker. Norval Marley provided financial support but did not see them often. When Marley attempted to connect with the white side of his family, he was turned away, which spawned the song Corner Stone. As his own family would deny him, he would become the reason the World would know the name Marley. Bob Marley would be the reference, the Corner Stone.
As the driving force of Bob Marley and the Wailers, Marley took his sound, forged on the tiny island of Jamaica to reach the critical masses of the world. Often his music was used to heal and bring people together. In his own country of Jamaica, political parties had the island separated along party lines in 1976. Marley had been conquering the world, spreading love and unity through his music when he received the call that he needed to come home and stop the fighting. On December 3, 1976, just two days before the “Smile Jamaica” concert, a free concert organized by the Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley, in an attempt to ease the tension between two warring political groups, an attempt on his life was made and he, his wife and manager Don Taylor were wounded by gunfire inside his home. Marley pressed on with the concert anyway saying,
“The people who are trying to make this world worse aren’t taking a day off. How can I?”
He performed in front of a crowd of 80,000 and brought not only the two warring factions together, but the country as well.
Happy Birthday Bob Marley! Your spirit and your music lives on …
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