Says Rita just as deserving of national hero status as Bob Marley
When Sharon Marley stepped out with Just One More Morning, it was the first time fans were seeing her in real singing mode since her Melody Makers days. Clearly, it had to be something of great importance for her to carve out the time to make her splash debut as a solo artiste, and go the whole nine yards, complete with accompanying music video.
The synopsis on YouTube says, “Official music video for Just One More Morning performed by Sharon Marley in honour of Rita Marley’s 75th earthstrong this year.”
That just about sums it up. But there are so many layers to this love song which was written by Ricky Walters and is featured on her mother’s classic album, We Must Carry On. The video tribute opens with a fabulous Rita Marley gently placing the needle on a vinyl record to make the music play. Sharon is the singer, but it is Rita who permeates the video, which is directed by her granddaughter, Donisha, Sharon’s firstborn. It is actually Rita Marley’s first music video in 20 years. Visually and artistically, it hits the mark.
Sharon Marley is proud that “four generations of Marleys” participated in the project, and noted that a lot of the pieces came from her mother’s wardrobe. “Mom gets involved in a lot of things. She loves her garden, she loves to travel, and she was in studio when I was voicing the song. Mom was showing me the moves when I was doing the video,” she said lovingly.
Sharon is the ultimate mommy’s girl, with no apology. During her conversation with The Gleaner, her love for Rita Marley was that intangible presence that hovered throughout. She describes Just One More Morning as “a deep, personal song” and one which she was determined to do, even if the thought of trying to reproduce Rita’s beautiful falsetto style “was scary”.
“This song is done in Mommy’s falsetto and I have a low range. I spoke to Grub [Cooper] and told him that I was concerned about the key, and he sent it back in my key and Soul (her nephew) remixed it. It is in tribute to Mom and I did it the best I could,” Sharon said simply.
OPEN TO EXPLORING
It wasn’t difficult for Sharon to use her voice in tribute because she hasn’t allowed it to go to gather dust.
“I sing in the shower all the time. Singing comes naturally for me. All of us who are a part of this project, music is our life. It brought back my love for music, and producers are now sending me songs,” she said with a laugh, admitting that although she is at “a different stage of [her] life”, she is “open” to exploring her options musically.
Her on-stage musical journey was cemented with the Grammy-winning sibling group Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers. “Being on the road with my brothers and sister ... I couldn’t have asked for better. The first time I went on stage I cried. I was 15 and the little ones were all looking at me like, ‘Why is she crying?’ I was in Canada when the Melody Makers started, and I came home after Bob passed away,” she shared.
Once she became a Melody Maker, they went back in the studio and added her vocals to the song Children Playing in the Street. and Sharon recalled with a laugh that while on tour, with Rita as ‘momager’, “Nobody could touch Rita’s kids.” And, in true Rita fashion, Sharon Marley is now just as fiercely protective of her mother. Rita is her hero, and she feels that her mother is just as deserving of national hero status as ‘Brother Bob,’ as her daughter Donisha pointed out that is how Rita refers to him.
“I am not trying to cause a dilemma about who is a national hero. The question was asked [in an interview] and I answered. No disrespect to any order. Mommy’s contribution is not only in Jamaica, it is the entire world. She is Queen Mother of a village in Africa; she established a home for the aged in St Mary, she set up the Rita Marley Foundation, and so much more. She does it all from the heart. She could have quit and gone into hiding when Bob died, but she carried on and maintained the tempo that Bob started. She has not stopped. Just looking at her tells you that you must carry on,” Sharon Marley, now a grandmother of four declared.
She spoke passionately of Trench Town, where her parents were living when she and Ziggy and Cedella were born.
“We want to open a Rita Marley Girls Centre in Trench Town because that is where we come from. This little girl from Trench Town, who they used to call ‘Blackie Tutus’ and say nothing good wouldn’t come of has inspired so many. They want to dress like Rita, sing like her, be like Rita. She and Brother Bob went out there to conquer Babylon and spread the mission of Rastafari, and she is still doing it. When my parents got shot, a police car came to our house and we were rushed in the back of the car to Strawberry Hill. They were hiding us. And two days later, my mother performed [at the Smile Jamaica Concert] with a bullet in her head. Hers is the kind of commitment that comes once in a lifetime,” a satisfied Sharon Marley concluded.