A Day at the Grammys with Ziggy Marley and Family
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.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qskelodIx40. 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.
Follow Ziggy Marley : www.ziggymarley.com.
Follow the Grammy Awards: www.grammy.com.
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