The second son of Bob and Rita Marley, eight-time Grammy-winning musician and producer Stephen Marley was born on April 20, 1972; he began his career as a precocious six-year-old singing, dancing and playing percussion with his siblings in the group The Melody Makers whose first single “Children Playing in The Streets” was produced by their father in 1979 and released on Tuff Gong, the label founded by Bob in the late 60s.
He will perform at The Newton Theatre on Thursday, March 19, 2020, at 7:30 p.m.
While still a teenager he assisted in the production of The Melody Makers’ albums including their three Best Reggae Album Grammy winners “Conscious Party” (Virgin Records, 1989) “One Bright Day” (Virgin Records, 1990) and “Fallen Is Babylon” (Elektra Entertainment, 1998).
In 1993, Ziggy and Stephen founded Ghetto Youths International as a means of controlling their own music and helping upcoming artists. Stephen’s earliest solo production efforts for Ghetto Youths International includes his late grandmother’s (Cedella Booker) album “My Altar”, followed in 1995 by the Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers single “Works To Do” and younger brother Damian’s “10,000 Chariots”. In 1996 Damian released his debut album “Mr. Marley”, on the Ghetto Youths imprint, on which Stephen played several instruments and wrote most of the songs, as well as producing the album.
The first project that brought Stephen’s production capabilities widespread attention was “Chant Down Babylon”, where he audaciously manipulated his father’s original vocal outtakes from the 1970s Island Records’ sessions, splicing them into duets with hip-hop and R&B artists, while updating the Wailers’ richly textured one-drop rhythms with an assortment of samples, loops, and overdubs. “Chant Down Babylon” achieved its objective of bringing Bob’s music to a new generation of fans, earned a Grammy nomination, was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America and has sold more than one million copies worldwide.
Stephen’s hip-hop infused dancehall beats were far more fluid and complex on Damian’s 2001 album “Half Way Tree” (Ghetto Youths/Motown), demonstrating Stephen’s equal dexterity in creating rugged roots reggae rhythms, which supported the well-crafted, substantial lyrics and Damian’s vocal flow. “Half Way Tree” yielded several hits in Jamaica, and internationally, including “More Justice” and “It Was Written” (featuring Capleton) and won the 2002 Grammy for Best Reggae album.
Stephen produced and contributed vocals to Damian’s single “Welcome to Jamrock”, the biggest reggae song of 2005 and still very popular today. Released in September 2005, “Welcome To Jamrock” (Tuff Gong/Ghetto Youths/Universal Republic) entered the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart at No. 7, a record-setting opening week for a reggae artist; it was certified Gold and won the 2006 Reggae Album Grammy while the single was honored for the Best Alternative Hip Hop performance, another first for a Jamaican artist.
The success of “Welcome to Jamrock” increased the anticipation surrounding the release of Stephen’s first solo effort- “Mind Control” –which won a Grammy for Best Reggae Album in 2007. In 2008, Marley released a refreshing version of the hit album with an acoustic version that gained the artist another Grammy for Best Reggae Album.
In 2011 Stephen released his third solo album- “The Revelation, Pt.1: The Root of Life” that reconfirmed Stephen’s expansive capabilities as an affecting vocalist, a versatile lyricist, and an accomplished instrumentalist while furthering his renown as an ingenious producer.
Stephen continued to showcase his talent for navigating between genres by effortlessly blending reggae with soul, hip hop and electronic beats on his fourth solo album; “Revelation Part II: The Fruit of Life,” released in 2016. A robust reflection of his work, the album features songs with notable artists including; Rakim, Dead Prez, Wyclef Jean, Black Thought, Shaggy, Pitbull, Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley and more.