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Interview: Cedella Marley

Interview: Cedella Marley

Interview: Cedella Marley

By on - Photos by Rolo De Campo - 69 comments

"Thirty years later, generations keep looking back to my dad for reggae music"


Picture this: It’s a warm evening sometime in 1975 and you find yourself in the birthplace of reggae music -- Kingston, Jamaica. You’ve spent an entire day lounging on sandy beaches, feeling the burning embrace of the sun as it pours over your body. You recognize no stress. No worries. Never mind the fact that you forgot your sunblock and all of the soothing rays that the sun is providing will soon turn into painful burns. Never mind the troubles that sit within the confines of your mind, the thoughts of responsibility, the possible feelings of anguish that can loom in anybody’s head on any given day. In fact, never mind the worries that any “normal” day can bring altogether.

Why? Because this isn’t just a normal day. In fact, it isn’t even a special day. It’s a legendary day, because tonight, you have plans to see the most important figure in reggae music history perform songs from his latest, breakthrough release, Natty Dread at the quintessential musical venue in the country, the National Stadium. That’s right. Bob Marley is mere hours away from hitting the stage to spread the message of all of the great things his music stands for: love, rebellion, and, well, impossibly good vibes. What could possibly be wrong with this picture?

Cedella Marley

Well, if you ask Marley’s daughter, Cedella, the answer is simple: Her father.

“Oh, I wasn’t there to see daddy perform,” the 43-year-old singer and fashion designer now says while laughing. “I was there to see the Jackson 5.”

And rightfully so. At the time, she was barely old enough to stay up past 10. To her, she says, the reggae legend was merely known as her father, not a revolutionary. Just the notion of being in the presence of such international pop stars as the Jackson brothers – most notably brother Michael – was enough to get her interested in checking out her dad’s opening set performance that night.

None of that means she completely discounted everything she saw that evening, though. Come on, now. This is still Bob Marley we are talking about.

“Dad was amazing, though,” she adds, breathing a sigh of reflection. “He tore the place down.”

Bob Marley - Live ForeverCedella has been in a reflective mood lately with the release of her father’s final concert on CD. 'Live Forever', a two disc set that chronicles Marley’s final concert on September 23, 1980 – two days after collapsing while jogging in New York – at The Stanley Theatre in Pittsburgh, Pa., has recently been officially released after existing within only the world of bootlegging for years beforehand. The set captures an older, more tender-sounding Marley in a light that feels perfectly imperfect at times, considering the couple sloppy endings to songs and a crowd that seems somewhat inexplicably under whelmed.

But none of that gets in the way of what truly shines through the release much like the aforementioned cloudless afternoon on a Kingston beach, and that’s the passion felt within the man’s voice. It’s a passion that pierces through songs like the inspired Them Belly Full or the haunting, show-stopping take on No Woman, No Cry. Sure, there’s no way he could have possibly known this was going to be his final concert before eventually succumbing to cancer the following year, but if you listen closely to the 19 performances that make up 'Live Forever', you might just get the feeling that he knew something was up. The performances draw the line between being aged and being wise. And if nothing else, this portrayal of that final night on stage proves the latter, rather than even questioning the former.

It’s that maturity, that wisdom, that made Bob Marley the statesman of an entire movement -- an entire art -- that Cedella argues is missing from reggae music today.

Cedella Marley“Now, everything today is rhythm-based,” she says when asked about the current state of reggae music. “Nobody gives a shit about what is on top of the music. Nobody is saying anything anymore.”

“I wish we could go back. Lately, I’ve been going way back to listen to the music with artists like Gregory Isaacs, Burning Spear and Culture. I mean, look at how it still is today. Thirty years later, generations keep looking back to my dad for reggae music. Everyone still holds one man responsible for reggae. No one should have to step up to the plate (for reggae music), and you can’t blame those who have tried for failing. But people always say stupid things like ‘Me bigger than Bob Marley.’ Don’t say that.

“Stephen has all of the elements,” she adds, citing her brother’s debut release 'Mind Control' as one of the great reggae albums of the last five years. “He has that old folk voice that sounds amazing. It goes back. There needs to be more of that in today’s music.”

Another thing Cedella would admittedly like to see in today’s musical world is the inclusion of women in reggae within the walls of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Though she cites her father’s contemporary, Jimmy Cliff, recently being elected to the HoF as “very nice,” she contends that all of the influential women within the genre have been largely ignored.

“I think Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers should be in the Hall of Fame,” she quips half-jokingly when pressed about the matter. “But how about the I-Threes? Women in reggae have always been over-looked. All of them. I think they deserve the honor just as much as any men.”

Hall of Fame induction thoughts aside, Cedella knows the importance of her father when it comes to both popular music and politick. She knows it so much, in fact, that she has been designated as the child who takes on most of the legal issues her family is forced to deal with on a daily basis. Feeling as though she “knows the law better than some of her own lawyers,” she notes that 'Live Forever' is only the beginning in a slew of official releases she and her family hope to release looking ahead.

“We want to start a bootleg series,” she says. “But we want it to be completely fan-based. We would like to collect the stuff people have recorded and release it officially. Another thing we have been thinking about is bringing together some of the world’s best DJs to release an album of remixes of their favorite Bob Marley songs. These are a lot of maybes, though. No promises.”

As for that exciting night in 1975 – a night which she remembers more for the headlining act than she does the semblance of her father performing to a sold out crowd on the heels of one of the biggest, most influential reggae albums ever recorded – Cedella looks to it as a reference point for where she was when 'Live Forever' was recorded.

Cedella Marley

“I was so young, and to me, he was always just daddy,” she says now with a hint of warmth that suggests something far deeper than she would ever reveal. “I miss him all the time. I am way older than my father was (when he passed away). And listening (to 'Live Forever'), I try to understand where he was emotionally at that time, and what he was feeling.”

Then, with her voice trailing delicately, her light Jamaican accent continues into a tone of thought and question.

“I feel like he was immature when he died,” she says. “And he wasn’t mature then, when I listen to this. He had matured musically, but not as a man. We all think we are invincible, but we aren’t. Everybody has regrets, you know? But I’d love to be able to turn back time just to see him again.”

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Read comments (69)

Posted by Karen Oliver on 04.14.2011
Hold your thoughts deep in the recesses of your mind.
Nothing but Love when you think of Bob Marley.....

Posted by waleed on 04.14.2011
Bob Marley is the best of all time no question.
And with artist's like Damian and Ziggy no need to worry about reggae.

Posted by ahmed on 04.14.2011
Keep it up.

Posted by Marcus Papillion on 04.14.2011
Thank you for such a personal insight on your father. He has touched many lives past, present, and future. From a distance I appreciate him being such a role model. I would like to say we all need a little Marley in us. Wishing continued blessing to you personally and your extended family....GOD BLESS!

Posted by papadirk on 04.14.2011
Bob Marley IS love.

Posted by Doomnezeu on 04.14.2011
One love

Posted by Vicky Bachini on 04.14.2011
I grew up listening to Bob Marley, and his songs still send a shiver down my spine, his beautiful liquid voice and the soul and passion behind every song warms my heart!

Posted by yele monjaraz on 04.14.2011
Incredible........ Love Bob Marley !!!!!

Posted by polly on 04.14.2011
Loving your work, I also agree that alot more female reggae artist should be reconised alot more... I love Bob Marley, his music has taught me alot all my life, when I'm down ill but on some Bob Marley tunes on truely makes me feel good and grounded.

Posted by nash on 04.14.2011
I see the man live in her eyes, the smile on her face seems so perfect in reflection like the legend himself. . . . Would like to here her sing in tunes what her father thought the world . . . Peace and love.

Posted by Dwyane Patrick on 04.14.2011
Bob Marley's Daughter does not look 43 she's so Beautiful and looks more like 35... lol thats a great thing.. been a Bob Marley fan for years I snowboard on the Burton BOB MARLEY WHAMMY Snowboard.. while listening to my Bob Marley play list ......... down hill style (One Love)... R.I.P. .BOB M. lives forever.

Posted by trishanne on 04.14.2011
Bob Marley was the Reggae artist that took Reggae to the world... his music is timeless and his messages for today.... 30 years later and young people can still learn his lessons.... from his drive to take his music to the world Love among the nations of people grew... Bless you Bob.... One Love... One Heart....

Posted by awie on 04.14.2011
I like

Posted by Pearl Groff on 04.14.2011
Big fan of Bob Marley. Still play my first album which was in Shape of a big (cigarette) lighter. Had enjoyable time with Steve Marley when he played in Key West. Live near his daughter in Pa.

Posted by Fred Oriunuebho on 04.14.2011
Bob Marley was a prophet. I see his prophies on war, politics and injustice coming to pass all the time in my country, Nigeria and the world.
His music is indeed timeless. I can't help but wonder how he managed to see 30 year ahead of his time whenever I listen to him.
His music inspires me to love, stand up for my rights and appreciate the good things of life while dealing with the challenges. Its only God that could have given him such an awesome gift of music.

Posted by Alberto italy on 04.14.2011
Rastaman live up......Bob Marley live up...forever

Posted by DEREJE JEMBER on 04.14.2011
Bob is everything to all of us the AFRICANS, that is our freedom, happiness, love and peace!

Posted by kesh on 04.14.2011
In the video-Time will tell- Bob says that he did not come to bow but to conquer! In my own view I think he did just that. He conquered!

Posted by RICARDO on 04.14.2011
La familia Marley debe pensa como resurgir el reggeae roots especialmente en Jamaica ya q sufre una crisis por el dance hall en la juventud q ya no oyen reggae.

Posted by Kate on 04.14.2011
One love <3 <3

Posted by Dorries Kamunyak Anijs on 04.14.2011
Blessed love you all.I know one thing Bob's guitar was his rifle and his words where his bullets for good or for bad.....It brings tears to my eyes when you say that you ar way older than your'e father was when he passed away.I love all of you Jah know why.By the way you does not look 43 at all .JAH BLESS AND ONE LOVE ALLWAYS......LOVE YOU MOMS RITA MARLEY.''hope to see you in nine miles in juli.

Posted by Mike on 04.14.2011
I had the great pleasure of feeling the love and spiritual vibrations at one of Bobs concerts in Milwaukee Wisconsin in 1980. In fact I have a photo of Bob that is 1 of a kind and to this day thinking about that concert makes the hair on my head stand up. Bobs music will live for-ever. i miss you Bob!

Posted by owigho on 04.14.2011
Heavyweight Marley, his style of music cant be compared, never.

Posted by john on 04.14.2011
Bob Marley .ke hoe leboga . and miss you, and your music live's on

Posted by elena marmol on 04.14.2011
So moving to see & feel things through someone else's eyes or perceptions. I totally agree with Cedella women in the Reggae industry are seriously overlooked and should be accredited. As for Bob Marley what can I say that has'nt already been said. The man's a legend-one of a kind; he will live on in our hearts forever.

Posted by alicia on 04.14.2011
I wish he was still alive girl!! I listen to his music over and over and over and over again and it never gets boring!! Love Bob Marley.

Posted by MIXEY on 04.14.2011

Posted by edwin onofre on 04.14.2011
La libertad, es lo mejor.

Posted by gimbal on 04.14.2011
Bob Marley live forever

Posted by RASH on 04.14.2011
May Peace be with you Credella,
Bob Marley was a Genius in his own way thats why perople still love him for his soulful music and songs


Posted by akisi on 04.15.2011
I love Bob Marley so much I named my son Nesta Marley... Yes he is a legend and an inspiration to millions..... and when it comes to reggae it has to be MARLEY!!!!...God bless you Cedella and the whole Marley clan!!!!!!...".....giv thnx and praise to the Lord and feel alrite....."

Posted by abeselom on 04.15.2011
Marley forever.

Posted by lynn on 04.15.2011
My son loved Bob Marley he died nearly 3 years ago at the age of 28 and we played "Three Little Birds" at his funeral it was so wonderful "Dont worry bout a thing, cos every little tings gonna be alright" fantastic. xx

Posted by PRINCE UKPO on 04.15.2011
Bob Marley was a true legend, that passed through many challenges and stood his ground, his royal bravely is still the reason why we remember him, he is a passionate singer. I love him, he was indeed a father to his family, reminds me of his song {Keep on Moving}. This is clear that Marley lives for ever, respect to my role model.

Posted by RASTAFARI on 04.15.2011

Posted by Suiven Tume on 04.15.2011
Bob Marley passed on when on when I was just 6 months old. Now I have grown and highly inspired by his message. Bob Marley lives forever. I listen to his lyrics 24/24, 7/7. Jah Live, Irie!!

Posted by brigitte graham on 04.15.2011
I feel blessed to have seen the late great Bob Marley when he toured New Zealand in 1979.... Cd's get a regular work out... His music and message will live forever !!!...One Love...

Posted by HOM \' NEPAL\' on 04.15.2011
I used to listen BOB'S songs since I was thirteen and I still love to listen his songs.It gives me eternal happiness.
I salute my black 'JESUS'

Posted by sydney on 04.15.2011
Bob Marley is 2good I love him.

Posted by Shahin/Bangladesh on 04.15.2011
Bob not was, He is alive by music and the source of inspiration to this Universe. Best of Luck Cedela & yours.

Posted by santy on 04.15.2011
Live n let let live....

Posted by Ras Tiago on 04.15.2011
One Love! Smart as dad! Keep it up.

Posted by Bisrat on 04.15.2011
He is one who made humanity in all mind!

Posted by david on 04.15.2011
Bob! When you look at Bob It's one marley you see Love every Time

Posted by Ian on 04.15.2011
An absolute LEGEND for the amount of happiness he brought to this world and his hard work he should be classed a SAINT.

Posted by mohammed abdel almunim abdien on 04.15.2011
I am happy.

Posted by Eggbert on 04.15.2011
Bob Marley's songs simply flowed from within, easy on the ear, easy on the heart, perfectly Natural, nothing false, nothing forced, nothing copied, just from himself, and of himself.

The only way to be "as good as" someone like that, is to be like them, natural in mind, spirit and soul.
You can't copy it, you can't learn it, you either have it within you, or you don't.

Most Simply Don't

Simply the best, Bob Marley

Posted by tinamarie on 04.15.2011
I Love The Marley Family!

Posted by cathrine on 04.16.2011
For me in New Zealand... BOB MARLEY... will always be known as... UNCLE BOB... he will always be part of the family... honestly that is the only way we know him uncle Bob... I'm 36 and uncle Bobs music will live on

Posted by bless on 04.16.2011
God bless the profit and his family.

Posted by Agya Kwasi from Ghana. on 04.16.2011
Cedella I love your father (BOB) so murch so I will love to see you one day. JAH Bless.

Posted by cedric mcintosh on 04.16.2011
Bob Marley is the musical messenger of Jah Rastafari and every word uttered in every song creates a spiritual philosophy that can only be interpereted by thos who have the desire the time and the patience to study and overstand it\'s content and it\'s meaning.

Posted by Donna on 04.16.2011
I can only say wow to your dads legacy...Your dad and I share birthdays...I will some day come to kingston...Big Hugs...Donna

Posted by elisenda on 04.16.2011

Posted by ousmane barry on 04.16.2011
BOB.R.N.Marley wos not oley a singer but he wos a messanger
Bob. R.N. Marley il n'était pas seulement un musicien mais un messager. Il restera toujours dan mon coeur. Paix à son ame.

Posted by Daniel Martinez on 04.16.2011
Has been a while since I&I have seen the I, on stage, have been reading every word I&I see about your doings all, the time. Keep up the fight, and the songs you have done are like no other. ONE LOVE chief

Posted by willie odom sr on 04.17.2011
I am a USA gospel artist, I like reggae may I say Bob set the stage... "Bob live on forever" Jah Love......

Posted by samuel blaise joseph ndiaye on 04.17.2011
Bob Marley is the best, unquestionably.

Posted by courtney on 04.19.2011
Bob Rastafari live forever one love.

Posted by cesar velazquez on 04.19.2011
Hi always well live for ever Bob Marley. Here in Nicaragua we listen to your songs always .......

Posted by ramina on 04.26.2011

Posted by GREG REWA on 04.27.2011
Cedella I would love to compose a song with you and if we like what we write down together I would then love to get sing it with you.

Posted by Carmen D on 05.06.2011
Bob Marley's music thought me how to grow up from my teenage years with so much hate towards me from ppl..when i listen to those songs they gave me hope and really made me the strong woman i am today..a survivor..his music inspired me..back then i came from Guyana with nothing as a teenager and had to survive in the 70's and 80's. Oh Bob without u and ur music..i cannot imagine where i would have been today...but i know that with u and ur music..i've made it in everyway. thanks Bob..R.I.P. Brother. ur music lives on.

Posted by alhajilateef on 05.20.2011
Forever Loving Jah, Bob R. I. P.

Posted by christine on 08.04.2011

Posted by imad on 10.24.2011
I'm Africa man my country Sudan I love bob Marley when I was small boy and I love reggae so much and love Cedella. I'm wanna marry her but how ??

Posted by imad on 10.24.2011
Bob Marley say if you listen carefully you will hear many more have to die dont trust me why ?
Bob still deep in my heart and also I love all Jamaican people my galss I wanna visit Kingston there is really life to stay near the beach I like Ziggy Marley because Bob, king of reggae say to Ziggy tell Ziggy I'm fine Bob really legend all sudanese people love Bob and Ziggy so much and then the Jamaican girls very nice.

Posted by gift sithole on 10.25.2011
I'm gift iwell to get the onepeople riddm to downloading.

Posted by Matse Rapea on 03.12.2012
Bob is the best reggae artist ever produced in this world. He is the legend!

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