Ziggy Marley has followed his father, legendary reggae star Bob Marley, in becoming an award-winning artist. His hit album Love Is My Religion earned the 2007 Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album. VOA's Larry London sat down for a conversation with Marley at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts just outside Washington, DC.
A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Ziggy Marley first sat in on recording sessions with his father's band, Bob Marley and The Wailers, when he was 10-years-old. After performing with his own band The Melody Makers, Ziggy Marley went solo and produced his first album, Dragonfly. In 2006, Marley produced a second solo album, writing all the songs himself and playing most of the musical instruments.
"For years, I have been in music and I gained a lot of knowledge, so I had the confidence to pursue all the elements to make a record."
Marley says the title track for his second album came to him during a conversation with a friend.
"When we started making the album, Love Is My religion wasn't even written yet. The title and the song came from a conversation I was having with a lady. It was just a simple question: 'What religion are you?' She told me she was Catholic. She asked me the same question. I thought for a second, and said, Love is my religion. That's how the song came about ... the title and the whole concept. But I was always looking for the perfect answer to that question. 'Ziggy, what is your religion?' I think I found the perfect answer: Love Is My Religion."
Most of Marley's songs tend to have a message.
"One main component, of what we do - which may not have anything to do with the title 'reggae,' but it has more to do with who we are - is that our music continuously carries a message. Reggae is known to carry a message. Not every reggae artists carries a message, so it's a generalization that is positive, but incorrect. But it's a common theme throughout from my father to me, to all of my siblings, and other reggae musicians - the notion that reggae music is a music that carries a meaning to people."
After his tour of Africa in 2005, celebrating what would have been his father's 60th birthday, Marley made educating people about the continent one of his goals.
"Africa has a special place in my heart, because of what Africa has been through, the struggle of Africa, and also because Africa is the birthplace of mankind. All of our ancestors are from Africa. We are all related in that way. But Africa, again for me, a person of African descent who understands history, is that my ancestors were brought to the West in a fashion that was inhumane and unjust. The situation in Africa is the way it is, not because it has to be that way, but because of all the colonial powers have decided to divide it and use it as a kind of breadbasket. The way to see it, Africa has the same levels [of complexity] as the rest of the world. The way Africa is [right now] really hurts me. Africa is the richest place on earth. Africa is diamonds, oil, gold, uranium, plutonium, natural resources, trees, animals. Even the dirt has minerals that are put to use in computers and phones, yet Africa suffers so much. It was a very special place, and [I have] a special need to focus some of my energy highlighting not the negative, but the positive of Africa."