In My Father’s Footsteps

Marley legacy

Fathers generally do not get the same level of love and admiration from the Jamaican society as mothers do. They certainly aren’t celebrated with the same reverential fervour in popular culture, so we were hard-pressed to find enough songs for a playlist to mark Father’s Day. Instead, we’ve decided to focus on some of Jamaica’s famous dads and the legacies they have built or left behind for their children, along with one legacy-in-the-making that we’re keeping our eye on.

Bob Marley – One of the most influential musicians the world has ever seen, Marley is known in every corner of the globe for unforgettable ska, rocksteady and reggae rhythms, as well as lyrics about struggle and change that encouraged people to stand up for their rights. He died at 36 years old, perhaps too young to realise just how gifted his offspring were. However, he probably could have guessed that some of them would follow in his legendary footsteps, having encouraged Ziggy, Stephen, Cedella and Sharon to form a group The Melody Makers in 1979. Here is a brief rundown of The Gong’s famous children:

  • Ziggy – Born David Nesta Marley in Kingston, Ziggy and the Melody Makers won three Grammys and another three as a solo artiste – the most by any Jamaican.  He has released four solo albums to date: Dragonfly (2003), Love Is My Religion (2006), Family Time (2009) and the recent Fly Rasta. His music explores social, political and personal topics. He is married to Orly Agai and has six children:  Justice, Zuri, Judah Victoria, Gideon Robert Nesta, Abraham Selassie Robert Nesta, and Daniel ‘Bambaata,’ who is also a musician.
  • Damian aka ‘Jr Gong’ –  Jr Gong became the first Jamaican artiste to win a Grammy outside of the Reggae category, copping the 2005 Best Urban/Alternative Performance award for the Welcome to Jamrock single. He began his musical career in 1992 at 13, as part of a group called the Shepherds, which included Freddie McGregor’s daughter Yeshemabeth and Cat Coore’s son, Shiah. He has released three solo albums: Mr Marley (1996), Half Way Tree (2001) and Welcome to Jamrock (2005), along with the critically acclaimed Distant Relatives (2010) in collaboration with US rapper Nas, SuperHeavy (2011) a joint effort also featuring  Mick Jagger, Joss Stone, Dave Stewart and AR Rahman and Set Up Shop vol 1, featuring a number of reggae artistes.
  • Cedella – Cedella is the CEO of the family’s label, Tuff Gong International, a children’s book author (Boy from Nine Mile and Three Little Birds) and a clothing designer. Her brands, Catch a Fire, Nice Time and High Tide are well recognised around the world. In 2012, she collaborated with premium sporting brand Puma to design the uniforms for the Jamaican Olympic team. Earlier this year, she successfully brought a musical adaptation of her father’s famous song, Three Little Birds to the off-Broadway stage. The musical was written by playwright Michael J Bobbit and staged at the New Victory Theater in New York City.
  • Stephen – Stephen is a five-time Grammy winner as an artist, producer, and member of Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers. He has released three solo albums to date: Mind Control (2007), Mind Control Acoustic (2009) and Revelation pt 1 – The Root of Life (2011). the follow up Revelation Pt. 2 – The Fruit of Life is due out later this year.
  • Julian – Julian released his debut album, Lion in the Morning, in 1996. His second album, A Time And Place, was released in 2003. His third album, Awake came in 2009 and was nominated for the Grammy in the Best Reggae Album category. He lost out to his brother Stephen, who won the award with Mind Control Acoustic.
  • Ky-Mani – Ky-mani is the second youngest of Marley children. As a child, he shied away from music, leaning towards sports. However, a 1997 collaboration with hip hop artist Pras of The Fugees on a remake of Eddy Grant’s Electric Avenue saw him embrace the family legacy. He has released five albums: Like Father Like Son (1996), The Journey (2000), Many More Roads (2001), Milestone (2004) and Radio (2007). He is also an actor, appearing in the local films Shottas (2002), alongside DJ Spragga Benz, and One Love (2003), alongside singer/actress Cherine Anderson.
  • Rohan – Rohan is a bit of an anomaly in the Marley clan, as he is not a musician. However, he was involved in a long-term relationship with Grammy winning hip hop artiste Lauryn Hill, and the pair have five children. Rohan is an entrepreneur and former American football player, who played alongside Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens as a member of  the University of Miami team. He is the co-founder Marley Coffee, an organic coffee plantation and sustainable farming business in the Blue Mountains; the Marley Beverage Company, a range of healthy, natural drinks and House of Marley, a line of headphones, audio systems, bags and watches. He also helps run his family’s charitable organization, 1Love, as well as the Tuff Gong Clothing Company.

A new generation of Marleys is also on the rise. Sharon’s daughter Donisha Prendergast (with former FIFA referee Peter Prendergast), is an actress and filmmaker, and Stephen’s son Jo Mersa, is a musician who recently released his debut EP, Comfortable. Another grandson, Skip, son of Cedella, is also beginning to make strides in the music industry.