An amazing thing happened Sunday night at the House of Blues New Orleans: people of all ages and ethnicities came together and flooded the building with positive vibrations. Stephen Robert Nesta “Ragga” Marley came to the venue on his summer tour to promote his new album, Revelation Pt II: The Fruit of Life, which released on the previous Friday, July 22nd.
Stephen Marley was born in Delaware in 1972, raised in Jamaica, and is now a resident of Miami, Florida. He has been playing and recording reggae music since he started with his siblings Sharon, Cedella, and Ziggy Marley in 1979. The four children of Bob and Rita Marley played in a group together called “Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers.” After recording ten studio albums, they disbanded in 2002 and pursued their respective solo careers. In the years following, Stephen has released four of his own albums and has collaborated with countless artists from all corners of the music community. He has acquired six Grammies in his life, with his 2011 record, Revelation Pt I: The Root of Life winning for Best Reggae Album. Apart from extensive work with his half-brothers Damian, Julian, Ky-Mani, and his son Jo-Mersa Marley, he has worked with other reggae legends such as Buju Banton, Junior Reed, and Capleton. He has also recorded with hip-hop and R&B artists such as Maya Azucena, Dead Prez, Waka Flocka Flame, Iggy Azalea, Rick Ross, and many others.
Stephen’s band opened the show with some reggae music from each member’s solo work, rotating as MC between songs. After a few tracks, the crowd exploded with excitement as Stephen Marley ran out onto the stage with his guitar in his hands and a massive smile on his face. “Love! Love! Love!” was the general chant and atmosphere for the rest of the evening. The setlist was a mixture of his solo music and his father’s classics. Stephen and his band executed every song with ease and it was obvious they were having the time of their lives doing so. Throughout the show, they preached about the unity and respect we humans must have for each other as we share the earth together. The high energy of the music and the crowd made world peace seem not only a possibility but an eventuality. At the end of the show, Stephen brought his friends and family onstage with him to dance and sing. The crowd was also encouraged to come meet the band outside their tour bus after the performance. To quote a song from his new album, the whole night was “a celebration of our life.”