Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Getting Ziggy with It: The "Marley" Interview with Kam Williams

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Getting Ziggy with It: The "Marley" Interview with Kam Williams

Article excerpt


David Nesta "Ziggy" Marley was born in Trenchtown, Jamaica on October 17, 1968 to Bob and Rita Marley. A five-time Grammy-winning musician, actor, artist, activist and humanitarian, Ziggy has enjoyed a prominent presence on the public stage for over a quarter-century.

At the age of 10, Ziggy first sat in on recording sessions with his father's band, the legendary Bob Marley and the Wailers. Later, he joined with his sisters Sharon and Cedella and brother Stephen to form Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers, which enabled him to craft his own soulful sound blending blues, R&B, hip-hop and roots reggae. The Melody Makers earned their first Grammy (Best Reggae Recording) for their third album Conscious Party (1988), produced by Talking Heads Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, which included the hit songs "Tomorrow People" and "Tumbling Down."

Subsequent albums included the Grammy-winning One Bright Day (1989), Jamekya (1991), Joy and Blues (1993), Free Like We Want 2 B (1995), Grammy-winning Fallen is Babylon (1997), Spirit of Music (1999) and Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers Live, Vol. 1 (2000), featuring some of their biggest hits, as well as a cover of Bob Marley's "Could You Be Loved." While selling millions of records and selling out numerous concerts, Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers never lost sight of their foundations in faith, fellowship and family.

Involved with a breadth of charities, Marley leads his own, URGE (Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment), a non-profit organization that benefits efforts in Jamaica, Ethiopia and other developing nations. The charity's missions range from building new schools to operating health clinics to supporting charities like Mary's Child, a center for abused and neglected girls.

The title of his latest album, Wild and Free, is a little ironic, given his time-consuming commitments to family, philanthropy, songwriting, producing, studio work and touring. Ziggy also continues to head Tuff Gong Worldwide in honor of his father's own music label Tuff Gong Records, working on the re-launch of the official Bob Marley website and an exhibit at the Grammy Museum in L.A.

Ziggy divides his residency among Florida, Jamaica and California, and has his own website at: Here, he talks about Marley, a new documentary about his father.

Kam Williams: Hi Ziggy, thanks for the interview.

Ziggy Marley: Thank you, Kam.

KW: Do you remember Ras Karbi, who played with your dad in Jamaica before embarking on a solo career?

ZM: Jah, mon.

KW: Well, during my brief career as a musician back in the Seventies, I got to play on an album with Ras after he moved to the States.

ZM: Nice, nice.

KW: I loved the movie Marley. It taught me so much I never knew about your father. Why did you decide to make it?

ZM: It came from a personal need for me, as Bob's eldest son, to be a part of a film about my father. There have been a lot of other projects presuming to tell his story, but I thought it was time for one coming from his family, not from some third party claiming to be the authority on Bob Marley or reggae. The only thing that would be me more authentic than this would be Bob himself.

KW: It's definitely a very rich and spiritual film which humanized him in ways I never expected.

ZM: Jah, mon, we want people to feel that human connection, that emotional connection, that real connection, and Kevin [director Kevin Macdonald] did a great job of achieving that.

KW: Wesley Derbyshire asks: How do you think your father's music has made a lasting effect on the world?

ZM: My father's music gives hope to people and also inspires them to break the bonds of injustice and to be positive in life. I've seen that everywhere I go, especially in poor countries and poor neighborhoods. Even in speaking to actual freedom fighters from South Africa to Ethiopia, they always told me how influential the music was in their struggles. …

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