I saw firsthand what a huge impact the late Bob Marley had on the world as I attended the 11th annual Bob Marley Festival yesterday. Even before I made it through the gates of the venue, I could see many things that were reminiscent of the man everyone came to pay respect for: the Bob Marley t-shirts, the Jamaican flags and of course, the dreds. Finding out before the show that I had a free ticket to give away, I came across a lady by the name of Shavorah. Traveling all the way from Jamaica in hopes of attending the show, the only thing that was stopping her was a ticket. She told me a lot about her past and the influence Bob Marley has had on her as a singer, and I felt that she was very deserving of the ticket. When asked why she came to attend the show, she said, “I wanna show my most honor and respect for Bob Marley whose words and songs carried through nations of people into brotherhood and sisterhood and unity. Bob Marley was a great musician; we all love you, Bob.”
What she said was true, because every person that I spoke to from the festival was from a different country. Many of the people in attendance also came to have a good time. Fellow UM student Alli Cohen said, “I just want to have a good time. Just chill, rejoice in Bob Marley’s positive image and words.”
After making my way through the gates to enjoy the great music, I had one of the best times of my life. The concert was put on by Bob Marley’s mother, Mother Booker, to celebrate what would be Bob Marley’s 58th birthday. Starting around 3:30, the show started off with local reggae singer Johnny Dred who performed songs about politics and peace and, as the show progressed, more people came, as well as more herbal essence.
It seemed to me the more I smelled the air, the better the music was getting. The rhythms were similar for most songs, and even though I would understand most of the lyrics, I still couldn’t help moving along with the music. Around 8 o’clock, India.Arie performed an hour long set that included songs such as “Video” and her own rendition of Bob Marley’s song “Redemption Song.” A stand out of her performance was a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.” She decided to have the audience sing in unison the powerful lyrics of the song.
The concert graduated as the Marley’s were set to take stage. Bob Marley’s mother came out first and read a self-written poem, accompanied by a piano player and a backup singer. Ending with lyrics from Bob Marley’s song “No Woman, No Cry” saying “Everything is gonna be alright, everything is gonna be alright,” Marley’s mother was followed by Grammy-winning Julian Marley. Julian’s hype performance had everyone rising to their feet and dancing along with the music. A powerful display of Jamaican pride was shown as the Jamaican flag was waved to the rhythm of the music.
As it was approaching 10 o’clock, I decided that it was time to pack up, not because of the show, but because I ran out of film, and because my eyes were burning. As I left the show, I still couldn’t help bouncing up and down to the music in my head. The event was highly organized and just about everything was according to schedule. There was a true sense of love at the Bayfront Amphitheater. Bob Marley’s legacy will always live on because he represented the things that matter most, and that was true love.
Marcus Washington can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.