Stephen Marley is a man of few words.
Asked what it's like to follow in the footsteps of his famous father, Bob Marley, a man who comes as close to deification as our popular culture will allow, Stephen replies with only a sentence fragment: "Rastaman vibration positive."
That response could be taken a couple of ways. Maybe by quoting one of his father's songs, he's showing reverence for the man. Or maybe he's annoyed about being asked a question he will never escape, no matter his own accomplishments. And during Stephen Marley's multidecade career, there have been many proud achievements.
Stephen Marley, as part of the Miami Reggae Festival. With Cultura Proftica, Tiken Jah Fakoly, and others. Presented by Rockers Movement. 11 a.m. Saturday, November 23, at Peacock Park, 2820 McFarlane Road, Coconut Grove. Tickets cost $45 to $75, but admission is free before 3 p.m. with two nonperishable food items. Visit rockersmovement.com.
At age 8, a year before his father died, Stephen sang lead vocals on the song "Sugar Pie" for his brother's band Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers. He has produced albums by his brothers Damian and Julian. And, of course, there are his own solo recordings, beginning with 2007's Mind Control, continuing with 2011's Grammy-winning Revelation Pt. 1: The Root of Life, and culminating with the forthcoming sequel, Revelation Pt. 2: The Fruit of Life.
"The Fruit of Life is a natural extension of the root," Stephen says. "It features more collaboration work with some of the best hip-hop and reggae artists." Those collaborators include big names such as Wyclef Jean, Rakim, and the Roots' Black Thought. There is also the already-released song "Bongo Nyah," featuring his brother Damian and dancehall DJ Spragga Benz.
With music being such an integral part of the Marley family and with Stephen becoming a musician at such a young age, it seems he had almost no choice of career path, which is fine with him. He wouldn't want any other way of making a living. "Music is my foundation and way of life. Only thing comes close is soccer."
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As with much of the rest of his family, Miami has become one of Stephen Marley's home bases. "We love the sunshine," he muses, "so the light reflects in our music."
That makes him a natural headliner for the Miami Reggae Festival, especially because he appreciates what organizers Alfonso D'Niscio Brooks and Rockers Movement have developed. He hopes his music will be worthy of the headlining spot and leave fans with "positivity, power, and inspiration to continue on life's journey."
So this Rastaman, with his vibration positive, continues to do his father's work, spreading The Root of Life and sharing its fruit. He's even happy to see reggae versions of songs by non-reggae bands such as Radiohead, Pink Floyd, and the Beatles becoming so popular.
"Every artist should be reggaefied, even once throughout their career."