BY ANGIE VALENTE
LEGENDARY reggae blood makes its way to town today as David Nesta (Ziggy) Marley returns to the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium.
With several decades of music making and industry experience in his arsenal, there isn’t much Marley hasn’t conquered. Grammy and Emmy Award wins, author, actor, singer, songwriter, producer, humanitarian, entrepreneur, and internationally recognized superstar.
Even after all of these accolades, Marley still soUnds humbled to be playing a smaller market, like Thunder Bay.
His Jamaican patois echoes heavily, “It’s good to be back, we’re excited to be back.”
Marley says he likes the progressiveness of Canada, as well as the environment, “It’s positive you know.”
His latest musical offering is his sixth solo studio album, aptly self-titled. It’s released on Tuff Gong Worldwide, founded in 1965 by Marley’s father, Bob Marley, encompassing the vision of producing, distributing, and promoting music free from corporate label politic constraints. Marley admits via phone interview while on tour that, “nothing else really fit” when it came time to name the record. The album focuses on the struggle of humanity, something relatable to people from all walks of life.
He shares that the height of his creativity is reached in the beauty of the morning.
“It’s the time when everything is awake and the birds are just coming out to dance and the air is fresh and the morning dew is present. Yeah before the world wakes up,” he says.
The record is self-produced and was recorded in Los Angeles. As a producer, Marley is able to separate himself from the art.
“I am able to look at it from the outside, not as myself as an artist,” Marley said. “I’m able to separate my ego. I’m truthful to myself.”
As the eldest son born to a global iconic, Ziggy is the closest the world will ever get to experience the true artistry that was his father. Marley speaks fondly, and on his own accord, of his early immersion in music, when he sat in on recording sessions with his father at age 10.
“I’m always excited to go into the studio, I’m like a child. Like with my father, it always fascinated me,” Marley says. “Your imagination can be crazy. It’s always been exciting.”
Marley’s human quality translates effortlessly into his words. He is soft-spoken, and at times inaudible due to cell phone reception. Even with those sonic challenges, his words ring powerful and true. Our conversation shifts from music to his identifiably-long 31-year-old dreadlocks, to cooking and family recipes quite seamlessly. Marley really does have a hand in a little bit of everything from his own Ziggy Marley Organics line, (a GMO-free product line including coconut oils and hemp seed snacks) to acting (the character of Bones on Hawaii Five-0.)
Due for its release this month, is Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook: Delicious Meals Made from Whole Organic Ingredients from the Marley Kitchen. The book is inspired by Jamaican meals Ziggy enjoyed while growing up - but with an up-dated healthy spin. It features contributions by wife Orly, sister Karen and daughter Judah. Marley does most of the cooking, and I wonder what his favourite recipe is.
“Coconut Dream Fish. It’s a nice one,” he says. “All of the recipes are nice. I’ll tell you that one, yeah.”
Musical style is not shaped, but rather felt. I stand corrected by Marley. Other than the obvious influence, what shaped Marley’s love of music early on?
“Growing up I was attracted to older music like Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye,” he recalls. “That inspired me. I loved Sam Cooke music. My family had a record player. When I finally got my own record player, I bought some records.”
Marley promises that every show is different, and informative, “We have a message to give to the people and it’s important that the people in Canada get the message we come with. It’s the message of love and unity and consciousness.”
Angie Valente is a freelance journalist based in Thunder Bay.