Exploring the connection between his father’s legacy and his own artistry

Although Ziggy Marley has won five Grammys and garnered widespread acclaim for his work as a humanitarian, author and producer, to many he will always be known as Bob Marley’s eldest son. Rather than distancing himself from his father’s legacy, Marley embraces the spirit and artistry of the legendary performer, who died in 1981. His new album, Ziggy Marley in Concert, proves he’s on a quest to advance his father’s work. Marley doesn’t banter much in concerts, but carefully orchestrates his sets so that both his and his father’s music combine to tell one story of love, spirituality and hope, even in times of turmoil.


Is this album a turning point for you?

There may be some of that. I am so close to it, I don’t know. What prompted me to record this album were the good experiences I’ve had live. I wanted to show something that some might not be able to see—a live show. Putting on a live show is very different from making a record. It’s a whole different interpretation of music. It’s a record of a moment in time. It wasn’t a big production, and we didn’t do a lot of shows. It was simple, uncomplicated.

What did you discover in the process?

I heard specific things in the instrumentation that I wasn’t aware of when we were playing live. Maybe when I heard it originally, I didn’t like it. Sometimes, when you hear the songs again, the individual musicianship is heightened. The thing I learned from my father in terms of live shows was to never take them for granted. Put time into rehearsals and do them right. When I listen to my father’s music, I am attracted to the rare stuff, the less popular songs rather than the songs everybody knows. In live shows, I do a couple of his songs. I have some of his songs on this record. I try to find a connection between one of his songs and one of mine and then put them together, join them that way. That’s how I choose them.

Ever had any live Spinal Tap moments?

I have had a few of those. In the early days, we went to England to do a show. We were ready to mime our song, and they put on the British national anthem instead. We were onstage looking at each other like, “Now what?” Stuff like that you remember.

You do a lot of charity work, especially for polio.

There are people who do much more than I do. I do what little I can. Sometimes they’ll ask me to do things and it’s not much at all. Children especially shouldn’t have to suffer through polio. There is no reason to say no and every reason to say yes. Another avenue to express myself is the organic food line we launched. That is very important for me as a human being, to help people put organic things in their bodies.

What can you share about your next studio album?

I have been writing songs and working on ideas and getting frustrated and going back. It’s just me trying to work on the music. I have to forget everything else to get it done, and then give it to the band. It’s a long process, and parts are frustrating. I am pretty shy, and I probably let out more through music when I am by myself than I would if I wrote with somebody. I’m freer as a person when I’m alone, so I

write by myself.

–Nancy Dunham

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