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Ziggy Marley's Forward to Love Tour hits Grand Rapids

An interview with reggae star Ziggy Marley about his new CD, tour and social justice issues... and what's currently on his iPod.
Ziggy Marley

Ziggy Marley /Tuff Gong Worldwide

Underwriting support from:

Ziggy at The Intersection

Show is Saturday, October 15 doors at 7 pm

Tickets at The Intersection box office (2 pm most days) or online, $22

People 16+ welcome

The Intersection is located at 133 Grandville Avenue SW

Expect lots of skanking


Ziggy Marley

Ziggy Marley /Tuff Gong Worldwide

Wild and Free album cover

Wild and Free album cover /Tuff Gong Worldwide

"If you know your history, then you know where you coming from, then you wouldn't have to ask who the 'eck do you think I am."--Bob Marley, from his song Buffalo Soldier.

History and its relationship to the social justice issues of today is what gets Ziggy Marley fired up. Music questions hold his interest, but history and current events brings his lyrical Jamaican voice to its full power. 

The creation of an album and the title track Wild and Free"It isn't ever one process, it happens differently at different times. Sometimes it's organic, sometimes one song leads. I don't' start writing songs with an album in mind, the songs might show or dictate an album's direction. The title song of Wild and Free is what I thought the album would be themed around; but it isn't the dominate song of the album," said Marley.

Wild and Free is a song that was written to support California's Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana, had it passed. "The song is really about a plant--hemp and marijuana--both sides of the plant. When we use the word marijuana people think about smoking pot and the medicinal and recreational use, but this is about hemp, too and its industrial use and the environmental impact on the planet. People always come to me and they think I'm just talking about smoking marijuana, but that's not it," said Marley. The song addresses history, farming and the earth. In the studio version he sings back and forth with his friend, actor Woody Harrelson. Marley's graphic novel Marijuanaman, released in April, introduces a superhero who saves the earth from further devastation with the plant.

The concert playlist: "There are some songs I always do, like Love is My Religion and True Myself. Sometimes songs aren't doing it and I change things in the middle of the show; it depends on how I'm feeling and sometimes how the audience is feeling."

His iPod: Right now, Marley is listening to Mumford & Sons. "I discovered them a couple of years ago."

Staying true to reggae: "I've found my voice at this time in reggae and I know what my music should sound like. I try to stay true to what I'm feeling."

Listening to his own music: "Sometimes. Every once in a while I'll listen to a couple of my songs to refresh my mind. I have to mix it up and differentiate between favorite music and favorite lyrics," he said, Love is My Religion is a song he often listens to. "The message, the idea in it will be part of my legacy. Musically, on this new album I like Personal Revolution," he said.

History in his music: "We can't ever forget the past, history has a role in teaching us who we are today and affecting how we think. History repeats itself--wars keep happening and children are still starving. Children living on this planet now should not die of hunger. We have so much technical and industrial advancement; but in many ways we have not advanced. We have not learned to live in peace or how to keep children from starving in this world. We're still spending money on wars while children are dying of hunger."

His charitable interests: Marley has his own 501(c)(3) nonprofit Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment (U.R.G.E.), a charity that works to help children in Jamaica and Ethiopia with issues around hunger, AIDS, health and education. "It is very natural for me to want to help people. That's part of who I am and it makes me who I am. I am interested in helping children- they are our biggest asset. If we can influence children to be better adults and leaders, that would be the best advancement we could give the world."

About: Five-time Grammy award winning Ziggy Marley, the eldest son of reggae legend Bob Marley brings his small venue concert tour, Forward to Love, to Grand Rapids on Saturday, October 15 at the Intersection. The overall theme of the new album and tour is a powerful one as Marley speaks to social injustice, ignorance and fear with a reggae sensibility. Wild and Free is his fourth solo album and appears to be his most political and personal. Songs address themes such as standing up for who you are, the cautions of a parent welcoming a new baby into a fragile world, messsages about environmental pollution and searching for desired goals that might not result in everything truly desired. 

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