With the sun beaming over a stunning view of the city of Los Angeles by day and glistening skyline at night, West Hollywood’s 1 Hotel has become a hotbed of music industry events since its opening in May. On this particular Friday morning inside its bright and airy eatery Juniper, a group of industry dignitaries has gathered in honor of the late icon Bob Marley, with the fancy digs even temporarily renamed the One Love Hotel, in order to both reflect on his legacy and look ahead at a major milestone for the legend as part of a series of events in honor of his 75th birthday.
Munching on an eclectic menu courtesy star chef Marcus Samuelsson of new spins on Jamaican dishes, including piles plantain and yam waffles, fish cakes and jerk chicken (served with bottles of the Jamaican libation Red Stripe), audience members mused about the continuing impact of Marley, who died in 1981, before getting treated to a panel with a range of his surviving family members, Julian, Ziggy and Skip among them. It was a disparate group of people from artists (including 23-year-old singer-songwriter Skip, currently signed to Island Records) to athletes, in the form of the hulking Nico Marley (a free agent football player who played for the Washington Redskins), all brought together by a common bond.
“This family celebrates individuality,” explained Mystic Marley of the family’s legacy at the panel. “I feel like that comes from learning about freedom. We are all so different. If we all make a song, it will sound completely different (person to person). If we (want to) say something, it would never sound the same.”
Despite their differences, their underlying family devotion begins literally and figuratively with late patriarch Bob, whether he was a father, uncle or, in Skip’s case, the grandfather he never got a chance to meet.
“All of us carry it on,” Skip explained. “Even to some new streets and avenues, protecting the message and continuing to carry the light.”
“I mean, it was just a special time,” Cedella Marley later told Billboard of the event. Cedella, who is the daughter of Bob and mother of Skip and is at the forefront of preserving her father’s legacy at the events surrounding his landmark year, dubbed MARLEY75. “Anytime the family can gather together like [we did at the 1 Hotel], we just always bring love upon each other. I so enjoy sitting down and watching my nieces, my nephews and my son. It makes me think we’ve all come a really long way.”
Cedella is “as closely involved as you can think” when it comes to not only working on the projects her and her team have planned for her father’s 75th, but also the day-to-day minutiae of preserving a towering legacy. “Bob Marley is my boss and he keeps me really busy,” she says with a chuckle. “But I love my job. I don’t just sit down and say, ‘Oh, that’s cute.’ I’m in the dirt, planting the seeds. Then we get the flowers.”
One of the projects Cedella and her team have planned dropped Wednesday (Feb. 5), the day before what would have been Bob’s 75th birthday, in the form of a revamped video for his trademark “Redemption Song.” In an effort to honor the song’s 40th anniversary this year, it was the brainchild of Octave Marsal & Theo De Gueltzl, with the French artists bringing the classic track to life with the help of 2,747 original drawings.
“I think it came out amazing,” says Cedella of the video to the song which was originally released on Marley’s twelfth album Uprising and written after he was diagnosed with the cancer that he would later die from at 36. “We went through this six-month process with Octave and Theo going through it page by page, us looking at stuff and approving it all. When I watch it, it still gives me goosebumps.”
Watch the video below:
Despite being released back in October 1980, “Redemption Song” has been a standout in Marley’s vast catalog, with the acoustic anthem a standard in the protest cannon. “It’s as relevant now as it was then,” ays Cedella. “With the world how it is right now, I feel like we need to be redeeming some things today. It’s new but it’s still old and it’s good to see daddy in that space.”
In addition to the new “Redemption Song” video, various MARLEY75 events are plotted throughout the year, from Ziggy and Stephen headlining Redondo Beach’s BeachLife Festival in May with a special tribute performance, to promises of the release of freshly unearthed tracks, exhibitions and other live events. Along the way, Cedella and the Marley family are working hand in hand with Universal Music Group’s UMe on the festivities. Primary Wave, the boutique New York company specializing in legacy artists including Whitney Houston and Smokey Robinson, is also part owner of Marley’s catalog, purchasing a publishing stake in 2018 for $50 Million, also co hosted the Marley brunch, which was part of a week-long series of events at the hotel.
For Cedella, who became Bob’s first child when she was born in 1967 and was later a member of Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, it’s a delicate dance of bringing continued awareness of her father’s legacy of both activism and music. “It does make me so proud,” she says of what gives her a continued drive. ”My mom (Bob’s widow Rita) is in Jamaica now, and I just had to thank her for bringing me into this wonderful family. They both taught me so much: patience, love, understanding and compassion.”
But despite the celebratory nature of Marley’s 75th year, Cedella notes that marking the occasion without her father can be a bittersweet pill to swallow. “I’m happy, but I’m also in a melancholy type of mood too,” she says. “I’m just taking it day by day and thanking God every day that I was blessed with these two wonderful people as my parents.”
Another point of encouragement is bolstering the family legacy in the years to come. “I feel like we’re doing a pretty good job with this generation,” she says of the younger members of the Marley family. “Hopefully they’ll take up the mantle and do even better than we did.”