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A Day at the Grammys with Ziggy Marley and Family

By March 9, 2017Articles
A Day at the Grammys with Ziggy Marley and Family- Island Stage Magazine

By Shelah Moody


Pregnant Beyonce delivered a golden homage to the feminine spirit, Adele literally stopped and restarted the show to accommodate her emotional tribute to George Michael and Bruno Mars showed off some wicked guitar licks on “Let’s Go Crazy” while celebrating the life of Prince and Minneapolis funk with members of the Time.

But to reggae fans as well as Jamaicans worldwide, the 59th Annual Grammy Awards Ceremony, presented by the Recording Academy, belonged to the first born son and the grandson of music icon and freedom fighter, Bob Marley.  On Feb. 12, Ziggy Marley picked up his eighth Grammy– for his self -titled album– and performed for the first time at the Grammy Premiere Ceremony at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.  

That evening at the adjacent Staples Center, during the Grammy Telecast Ceremony, Ziggy’s nephew rising star Skip Marley rapped with pop star Katy Perry on “Chained to the Rhythm.” Incidentally, Skip is the son of singer and fashion designer Cedella Marley, who earned three Grammy Awards as a member of Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers in the eighties and nineties.  Social media lit up with tweets, hashtags, post and shares on both Ziggy and Skip and somewhere, Rasta Numero Uno, Bob Marley, was smiling, maybe even lighting a spliff.  

Island Stage caught up with Ziggy Marley and family backstage at the Microsoft Theater, moments before he took the stage. Ziggy’s adorable children, Judah 12, Gideon, 10 and Abraham, 6, were in a joyful mood as they watched a Premiere Ceremony performance by Best Regional Roots Album and Best Alternative Album nominees Northern Cree and Carla Morrison on the monitor. Judah by the way, has launched her own career as a budding chef, preparing recipes on video from the “Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook” on her father’s Facebook page.

 Ziggy’s lovely wife, Orly, executive producer of “Ziggy Marley,” was regally attired in a couture gown by Israeli designer Dodo Bar Or. Orly beamed with pride as she adjusted Abraham’s shirt and gave Judah a few tips on holding a clutch on the red carpet.  Orly suggested a group photo with all of the children, but a camera shy Abraham dashed out of the shot.  A precious family moment indeed.

“We’re all wearing Zara,” said Gideon, when asked about the children’s coordinated black and white outfits. “Except Mom and Dad.”

“Daddy’s wearing John Varvatos said Judah.  

“Hello Hello!” Abraham helped me do a quick sound check on my digital recorder; and then I asked his father how it felt to perform for the first time at the Grammy Premiere Ceremony, where the award for Best Reggae Album is presented annually.

“It feels good, mon, I’m excited about it,” said the Jamaican born musician.  “It’s my first time really attending the Premiere Ceremony. I’m looking forward to it.”

I asked Ziggy, who performed at the Grammy Telecast Ceremony in 2013 with his brother Damian Marley, Sting, Rihanna and Bruno Mars, about his Grammy Day family plans.

“Well, Judah really wants to go on the red carpet, Gideon, too, so I want to give them that experience and let them see what it’s like” said Ziggy.

After the interview, I was escorted back to the Premiere Ceremony by Tuff Gong Worldwide’s  fabulous production assistant, Michelle Rodriguez.  To my delight, standing behind me was one of my all-time favorite singers, Grammy winner Judy Collins, who had just performed “Suzanne,” a vocal and piano tribute to Leonard Cohen.

After Hawaiian artist E Walea accepted the Grammy for Best Regional Roots Album, “Kalani Pe’a,” Ziggy’s shining hour began.

“His music has crossed all borders,” said the Ceremony’s host, comedian Margaret Cho as she welcomed him to the stage.  “An iconic figure in the universe of reggae, he’s found his own voice as an advocate for the people. Let’s give it up for seven time Grammy winner and current nominee in the category of Best Reggae Album, the one and only Ziggy Marley!”

Backed by the Cheche Alara All-Star band and featuring members of his own band, guitarist Takeshi Akimoto and vocalists Tracy Hazzard and Kamaria Ousley, the first horn infused riffs of “Amen” from his grammy nominated album, a song which was heavily influenced by Nigerian music icon and activist, Fela Kuti.

“Who will profit without shame/Those who profit from human pain/Now let peace be your profit/And let love be your saint/To keep the monsters’ belly filled/Many of my people are killed/There is a thirst that must be quenched/For the hearts of the broken/Verily I say, amen, amen…” 

In this writer’s opinion, it was one of Ziggy’s finest live performances.

“More Ziggy!” a blond, bejeweled woman sitting next to me exclaimed after the performance.

Just a few moments later, the nominees for the Best Reggae Album were announced: “Sly and Robbie Presents…Reggae for Her,” Devin Di Dakta & J.L., “Rose Petals,” J Boog, “Ziggy Marley,” Ziggy Marley, “Everlasting,” Raging Fyah, “Falling into Place,” Rebelution and “Soja: Live in Virginia,” Soja.

In an historic moment, acclaimed producer Jimmy Jam presented Ziggy Marley with his eighth  Grammy, making him the most awarded reggae artist in the history of the Recording Academy. Ziggy proudly walked onto the stage with Judah, Gideon and Abraham in tow and delivered his first ever live Grammy acceptance speech.

“Thank you, thank you. My love and respect to the Grammys, my family and my wife, Tuff Gong Worldwide and all of the other reggae musicians who came before us; who paid and sacrificed so that I can be here today and that reggae can be here with you today on stage at the Grammys.  Music is a powerful tool; music can change the world. We must use that power wisely and use it now, and spread a message that will benefit human kind.  Thank you very much.”

The past year was fruitful for Ziggy Marley, as he embarked on a worldwide tour in promotion of his latest album and launched the “Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook,” featuring healthy recipes made with non-GMO ingredients. Last fall, Ziggy and the Recording Academy presented a panel discussion, “History of Reggae: From the Roots to Seminal Artists and Beyond” featuring Ras Michael, Santa Davis and Lloyd “Bread” McDonald of the Wailing Souls. Since it’s release, “Ziggy Marley” has been consistently on “Billboard” magazine’s list of top 20 reggae albums. 

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Past Winners of the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album:

1985  Black Uluru   Anthem

1986  Jimmy Cliff   Cliff Hanger

1987  Steel Pulse  Babylon the Bandit

1988  Peter Tosh   No Nuclear War

1989  Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers    Conscious Party

1990  Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers One Bright Day

1991  Bunny Wailer Time Will Tell:   A Tribute to Bob Marley

1992  Shabba Ranks   As Raw As Ever

1993  Shabba Ranks   X-tra Naked

1994  Inner Circle   “Bad Boys”

1995  Bunny Wailer   Crucial! Roots Classics

1996  Shaggy   Bombastic

1997  Bunny Wailer Hall of Fame:   A Tribute to Bob Marley’s 50th Anniversary

1998  Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers     Fallen Is Babylon

1999  Sly and Robbie   Friends

2000  Burning Spear    Calling Rastafari

2001  Beenie Man      Art and Life

2002  Damian Marley    Halfway Tree

2003  Lee “Scratch” Perry     Jamaican E.T.

2004  Sean Paul     Dutty Rock

2005  Toots & the Metals    True Love

2006  Damian Marley     Welcome to Jamrock

2007  Ziggy Marley    Love Is My Religion

2008  Stephen Marley     Mind Control

2009  Burning Spear    Jah Is Real

2010  Best Children’s Album      Ziggy Marley      Family Time

2010  Stephen Marley       Mind Control – Acoustic

          Buju Banton – Rasta Got Soul

2011  Buju Banton       Before the Dawn

2012  Stephen Marley   Revelation Pt. 1 – The Root of Life

2013  Jimmy Cliff       Rebirth

2014  Ziggy Marley    In Concert

2015  Ziggy Marley    Fly Rasta

2016  Morgan Heritage       Strictly Roots

2017  Ziggy Marley      Ziggy Marley

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