Some roots in music reach deeper than others. Some have strong ties that burrow just under the surface, but for Stephen Marley, his roots in music would be the envy of any cotton tree in Jamaica. Stephen Marley is the second eldest son of Bob Marley and Rita Marley, but he is by no means living in their legendary shadows. With eight Grammy awards under his belt, this born-to-be musician has no qualms creating, producing and sharing the love of his birthright with the rest of the world. Come June 1, Bend will be just one of many stops Marley makes on his upcoming 30-city tour.
Marley's latest album is a continuation of a two-part series, the first of which was "Roots of Life" released in 2012. His latest album, which is also the final part in the series, is titled, "The Fruit of Life." The first was heavily influenced by traditional reggae, and while his newest one is still true to his famed background, Marley has brought in multiple guests to collaborate. "This album is like a transition of music. It's about crossing a lot of boundaries," says Marley. Guests on the album include Wyclef Jean, Busta Rhymes, Khaled, Rick Ross, Ziggy Azalea, and many more artists who have a unique and intense claim on hip-hop and other popular genres. These untied collaborations are nothing new to this credited artist. "As a producer, musician and a lover of all types of music, joining these artists together is just natural to me," says Marley.
Born into the Marley family, music was destined to be a part of Stephen "Ragga" Marley's life. At a young age, the lessons of the power and possibilities of what rhythm and sound can bring were something he came to realize on his own. He recalls precisely when that moment was. It was 1980. Bob Marley, along with two of his sons, Ziggy and Stephen, were set to perform in Africa. "I remember it very clearly. There was a concert in Salisbury, Zimbabwe, to celebrate the independence from the British. It was a free concert, but there was still a VIP section. Prince Charles and the British Army were there and when we all came on stage, when my father came on, people rushed the stage. I then realized that this was happening all for music," says Marley. He discusses what that meant for him being a child of eight at the time, how it changed his idea of what music could be. "I then understood the power that music had, and by the next year my father had passed away in the flesh. I believe that everything happens for a reason."
As a young boy growing up in Jamaica, Stephen Marley started to sing professionally at age seven when his mother and father created a group called The Melody Makers. Marley sang and performed alongside his brother Ziggy, and sisters Sharon and Cedella. His father, heavily involved in his children's lives, as well as the quality of life for a younger generation, had written a song called, "Children Playing in the Street." This song had a deeper meaning, much like most of the music the family created. That year, 1979, was the United Nations' International Year of the Child. All proceeds from the song went to support the U.N.'s mission that focused on the needs and rights of all children in all nations.
Stephen Marley has been to Oregon before, and is looking forward to his upcoming visit. "Oregon is very green and I am anxious to deliver some good new music and some old favorites of my father's," he says. This is an opportunity to witness the blood of a legend bringing transcendent vibes and quality music to the people of Central Oregon.
Wednesday, June 1, 9 p.m.
51 NW Greenwood Ave., Bend
$28 adv., $31 door