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June is Black Music Month and WERS at Night will recognize black musicians, composers, singers, and songwriters who have made enormous contributions to the music industry. Today, June 7th, Rockers is highlighting Bob Marley.
Bob Marley – who does not know the name or the music? However, not many know the legacy.
Born as Robert Nesta Marley on February 6, 1945, in rural Jamaica, Bob Marley has built a legacy, being called the first pop star of the third world by Jann Wenner, publisher of Rolling Stone magazine. He is best known for his work with The Wailers, and for their album that achieved international success, Exodus. That album reached number 20 on the Billboard charts, features the popular singles “Natural Mystic”, “Jammin’”, and “Three Little Birds”, and was awarded album of the century by Time magazine in 1999. While he was never awarded a Grammy in his life time, he was honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001, an honor given to “performers who during their lifetimes, have made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording”.
While Marley’s accomplishments and influences in his musical career were great and mostly recognized critically after death, he was more than just a symbol of great music; he was an advocate for the Rastafari movement, a rejection of western culture and religion, while spreading the message of unity to the world. His music promoted peace, unification, and advocated for social change, a message that spread and was felt in his home country of Jamaica and internationally. That message accepted by the masses, was also seen as a political threat, and because of this he, his wife, and his manger became victims of a near fatal assassination attempt in his home. The attempt came when Marley was supposed to perform a free concert when they were assaulted by an unnamed gunman. Despite the murder attempt, Marley went on to perform the concert that day, which was an inspiring action itself.
At another concert, the One Love Peace Concert, which happened during the time of civil war in Jamaica, Marley made huge political strides by joining the hands of two opposing political rivals. Though this action did not stop all the violence, it was still a step in the right direction, standing behind the message of unification Marley was trying to convey, and for his efforts he received the Peace Medal of the Third Worlds from the United Nations in 1978. Bob Marley passed at the young age of 36 in 1981 from cancer, leaving behind a tremendous musical and spiritual legacy that will live through his music and talented children, Damian, Stephen, Ziggy, Ky-main, and Julian, all who have taken after their father and began a career in music. Spreading the legacy this year, Kevin MacDonald released the film Marley in April which is a biographical documentary of Bob Marley’s life and career, giving insight on his journey to international stardom. The popularity of his music allows his message to live on. His music and legacy will continue to uplift, unify, and inspire for generations to come.