“I am often asked the value of Reggae music and…Bob Marley to Jamaica and Jamaica’s tourism, and I would say it is immeasurable…it’s not something that you can put a figure to,” he said.
Speaking at Tuesday’s launch of a month of activities to mark the 70th anniversary of the late musician’s birth in February, at Digicel's regional headquarters in downtown Kingston, Dr. McNeill highlighted several notable achievements of Marley, pointing out that Jamaica has benefited from the resulting global recognition.
These, he said, include: being awarded the United Nations Peace Medal in 1978; induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; Time Magazine recognition of ‘Exodus’ as Album of the Century; being accorded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; bestowment of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award; being ranked number 11 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest artistes of all time; and ‘One Love’ being named the Song of the Millennium.
Additionally, Dr. McNeill said the extent of Bob Marley’s global appeal also resulted in the town of Banatski Karlovac in Serbia erecting a statue of him in 2008, and Australian Aborigines continuing to burn a “sacred flame” in Victoria Park, Sydney, to honour his memory.
“These are the marks of a great man. These are not the achievements of an ordinary person, and we must give credit to him for all that he has achieved. (But) what made Bob great is the extent of his lyrics. He spoke about things that touched the lives of the common man. He spoke about revolution, he spoke about liberation, and these are timeless values,” the Minister said, pointing out that this focus is being maintained by several current performing artistes.
He said that the nation has “a debt to pay, not just to Bob, but all our artistes who keep our flame flying high.”
Digicel has, again, partnered with the Bob Marley Group of Companies, and the Bob Marley Foundation to stage this year’s celebratory events.
These will commence on the icon’s birthday, on February 6, with a series of symposia at the Bob Marley Museum in St. Andrew, focusing on several topics, including: ‘Reggae Music’; ‘Reggae and Fashion; and ‘Marijuana and the Economy’.
Other scheduled events include: a free concert to be staged along the Kingston waterfront on February 7, featuring local and international Reggae artistes; and the ‘One Love’ celebrity football match, later in February.
In commending the partnership for this year’s celebrations, Dr. McNeill pledged the Ministry’s commitment to “work with you to keep the message of Bob Marley going across the world, because it is a message that (sustains) Brand Jamaica, and shows what is the best of Brand Jamaica.”
In his remarks, Digicel’s Chief Executive Officer, Barry O’Brien, described the celebrations as “an important event” for the company.
“It is also an important event for Brand Jamaica. When look at Bob Marley,…this (is a) global superstar…(who) is now beginning to transcend generations. So, for Digicel to (also) be…celebrating what would have been his 70th birthday, it’s great for us as well, (and) we look forward to the next month’s festivities…as we remember Bob Marley and the achievements he had,” Mr. O’Brien stated.
Bob Marley Group of Companies General Manager, Marie Bruce, said the entity is honoured that the 70th anniversary of the Reggae legend’s birth will be celebrated in a “most memorable way”, and encouraged persons to participate in the festivities.
Tuesday’s launch featured performances by recording artiste’s Kabaka Pyramid and Nomadzz, who have been designated Bob Marley 70th Birthday Celebrations Ambassadors, as well as members of the Jamaica Junior Music Theatre.
Bob Marley passed away on May 11, 1981, at age 36.
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