Marley Fest marks Bob’s 60th b-day

The Marley family celebrated what would have been Bob Marley’s 60th birthday during the 12th annual Bob Marley Festival at the Bayfront Amphitheater in Miami. The festival, primarily a day of rejoicing and recognition of Marley’s impact on millions across the world, was at times a misrepresentation of what Marley stood for.

The show kicked off with a few local artists giving lackluster performances. Up next on the bill was Cuban rapper Pitbull. Making sure the audience enjoyed his set list, he performed regional hits like “Culo,” “Dammit Man” and his current single “Toma” along with all of the expletives. Although it was not a major concern of the audience, I was a little disappointed that an artist would perform in such a manner knowing the occasion. Pitbull’s performance was followed by Atlanta rapper T.I., who is enjoying the success of his newly certified platinum album Urban Legend. The same that was said for Pitbull could be said for T.I., except the latter had to add salt to the wounds by feeling the need to strip himself of his clothes and prance around the stage with his boxers showing.

As the show moved from the rap portion to the dancehall segment, there was an hour and a half delay that has to be mentioned. As the crowd eagerly awaited the arrival of Beanie Man (who had security concerns), the crowd had to suffer during a painfully agonizing performance from a random hype man. Basically, the DJ played all of the current reggae songs and the hype man sung over them. Just when we thought it couldn’t get worse, it rained-a recurring theme of the night.

Beenie Man finally made his way to the stage dressed in an all-white suit that had Jamaica’s colors down the collar. On the back of the suit was the album cover photo of Marley’s album Legend. Back by a live band, Beenie Man performed songs from his catalog such as “Who Am I,” “King of the Dancehall” and “Romie.” As his time onstage approached to 45 minutes, Beenie Man’s intensity never left him. The crowd got another dose of energy from another dancehall artist, Elephant Man. Known for setting trends with his unique sense of style and electrifying performances, Elephant Man ended his set with an unexpected song: “We Are the World.” Although his intent was well, his falsetto wasn’t. Instead of a moving performance, it seemed more like a mockery.

To conclude the night on a better note, Stephen, Damian, Julian and Ziggy Marley all converged onto one stage and sung the songs that made their father a legend. As each took the mic performing songs such as “I Shot the Sheriff,” “Get Up, Stand Up” and “Rat Race,” it was amazing to hear the vocal similarities each shared with their father. At times, I felt it was Bob singing on stage through his sons. As Ziggy took the mic for the last performance of the night, he introduced the song by first letting the audience know that this was his father’s favorite song. Singing “One Love,” with tears in his eyes, the rain fell from the sky. One couldn’t help but think that Bob was doing the same thing-crying tears of joy.

Marcus Washington can be contacted at