Ky-Mani Marley, Forges His Own Musical Path


Chris McDaniel writes about Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Ky-Mani Marley—son of legendary reggae singer Bob Marley—who will highlight music from the many albums he has released over the years. McDaniel stresses that Marley is much more than just another reggae performer caught in his father’s long shadow. Ky-Mani Marley will perform Saturday, April 27, at 7:30pm, at Cocopah Casino in Yuma, Arizona. McDaniel writes:

Despite his name, Ky-Mani doesn’t only perform reggae, but also dancehall and hip-hop music. “Because my last name is Marley, then I’m bound to sing only reggae?” he asked rhetorically during an interview with in 2008. [. . .]

Ky-Mani, which means “adventurous traveler,” was born in Jamaica on Feb. 26, 1976, to parents Bob Marley and Anita Belnavis. He was only 5 years old when his father died of cancer. The result of one of many of Marley’s extramarital affairs, Ky-Mani was exiled from the Marley estate after his father’s death. When he was 9, Ky-Mani and his mother moved to the Liberty City neighborhood of Miami, which at the time was a low-income area plagued by crime. [. . .] As a teenager, Ky-Mani started rapping and deejaying. His first single was “Unnecessary Badness.” He became interested in singing after being invited to participate in a recording session at a Miami studio. He gained further musical experience by creating tracks with his brothers Stephen, Julian and Damian. [. . .] In the mid-1990s, Ky-Mani signed on to Shang Records and recorded his debut album “Like Father Like Son,” which was released in 1996. He also recorded and released several singles, including “Judge Not,” “Who the Cap Fit (remix),” “Sensimelia” and “Dear Dad,” the last of which topped the British reggae charts.

In 1997, he recorded a cover of Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue” along with Wyclef Jean and Pras of the Fugees. The cover featured the chorus of the original song and verses from each contributor. Also in 1997, he signed with Gee Street/V2 Records and completed a collaboration with label mate P.M. Dawn on the single “Gotta Be Movin’ On Up,” which went gold in Africa.

In 2000 he released his second studio album, “The Journey,” and in 2001 released his third studio album, “Many More Roads.” He then went on tour and in 2004 released his fourth studio album, “Milestone.” He released his fifth studio album, “Radio,” in 2007. His newest single, “New Heights,” was released in early 2011. His current album, “Evolution of a Revolution,” is expected to be released sometime in 2013. It is described by those familiar with the project as “deeply rooted in the reggae and hip-hop cultures. The album promises to be a refreshing departure from the typical synthetic pop associated with the genre, and will instead be a representation of authentic urban hip-hop and reggae fusion.”

Ky-Mani is also involved in philanthropy. In 2008, he founded the Love Over All Foundation to help alleviate illiteracy and poverty and to promote positive change in underprivileged communities across the Caribbean, Africa and the United States through the distribution of grants. The foundation is also devoted to sickle-cell and diabetes research. Two of his children have been diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia. For his humanitarian work, Ky-Mani was named Philanthropist of the Year by the Prince Albert II de Monaco Foundation, Better World Awards.

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