Reggae fans worldwide celebrated Bob Marley’s 77th birthday on Sunday and in his Jamaican homeland his family ensured his legacy continues to thrive with a series of events.
Marley died in 1981, aged 36, from cancer. Events and exhibitions are being staged worldwide to mark his birthday, including in the UK where a memorabilia exhibition recently opened at the Saatchi Gallery in London. Toronto City Council celebrated Bob Marley Day again on Sunday, its 31st consecutive year.
The theme for this year's Jamaica celebrations was Roots 77 with seven main events over seven days. They included a beach clean-up, a sound clashes, music industry seminars, two art installations, and two concerts. Fans worldwide were invited to join the festivities by tuning in to the live stream of Bob Marley's 77th Earthstrong on the Tuff Gong TV YouTube channel on Sunday for seven hours.
“I am so pleased to have the opportunity to honour my dad each year - especially in a way that welcomes fans and well-wishers around the world to share this special occasion with our family,” said Cedella Marley. “This year is particularly important to us with Jamaica celebrating its 60th anniversary.”
One of the main attractions of the celebration is the new 'Rita Marley: Mystic of a Queen' piece. The Berette S Macaulay-curated exhibition honouring Marley's widow is a permanent fixture at the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston.
Through the Tuff Gong TV YouTube channel, Bob Marley's 77th Earthday live stream featured performances by The Marley brothers, Minister Marion Hall, formerly known as Lady Saw, Sharon Marley, and grandsons Skip Marley, Jo Mersa Marley, and Elijah Marley.
A new feature of the Bob Marley celebration is the introduction of The 7 Roots of Marley. Inspired by the seven pillars of Kwanzaa, the video meditations explore the reggae legend’s ideals and give insight into his ideologies and far-reaching impact.
Julia Vaz, marketing director of the Bob Marley Group of Companies, emphasised the comprehensive nature of this year’s offerings: “The goal is to provide something for everyone and to emphasise different aspects of Bob Marley’s guiding beliefs and way of life. We want people to have a feel of who he was beyond his status as a reggae superstar.”
True to this notion of going back to the roots, there was a sound clash titled ‘Echoes of Sound Systems – When the Two 7’s Clash’. It was a collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment, and Sports. Billed as the sound clash to end all sound clashes, it saw sound systems vie for the top prize and bragging rights. This celebration also formed part of the celebrations for Jamaica’s 60th year of independence and will air weekly during reggae month on Tuff Gong TV.