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Bob Marley: His Art and Vision Changed the World

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Bob Marley: His Art and Vision Changed the World

With a legendary and ever-lengthening list of accomplishments attributable to both his life and music, Bob Marley advocated for social change through the use of socially conscious music (music that addresses social, cultural, and political issues) while simultaneously allowing listeners to forget their troubles and dance. A reggae pioneer, activist, icon--he is considered one of the greatest and most influential artist of all time. Marley grew up in the poverty and injustice in Jamaica and it manifested itself in his rebel sound. His songs not only dealt with the politics of Jamaica but Africa and the whole world too. In the late 1960s, a new form of music was gaining popularity in Jamaica, reggae. It was directly influenced by the Rastafarian culture in Jamaica; a religion based on social change. Reggae was the means of spreading these beliefs. Bob Marley and his band, the Wailers, developed a sound that was more deep, powerful, and passionate. As a result, his musical output became more prolific and more openly political. The meaning behind his music addressed many issues that people of color dealt with. He brought unity between many people and changed a lot of people’s thoughts on society. His songs are still very popular today, and they still speak to many people’s hearts. Bob Marley emerged from humble beginnings and an early life of poverty in Jamaica to bringing reggae music to international popularity by voicing his message on racism, freedom and inequality, and oppression against African-Americans.

In his music, Bob Marley let it be known that racism was an obvious issue that needed to change in the world. An event known as the 1963 Birmingham riot was a prime example of this issue. A bombing took place in Birmingham, Alabama which targeted black leaders of the Birmingham campaign, a mass protest for racial justice. KKK members in Birmingham had used bombings against black civil rights leaders who started to move into their all-white neighborhoods. Bob Marley believed that racism and hate could be cured by injecting music and love into people’s lives. In 1976, when he was scheduled to perform at a peace rally, there was an assassination attempt on him. A gunman came to his house and shot him. Two days later, he walked out on that stage and sang. When asked why, he answered, “The people who are trying to make this world worse are not taking a day off, how can I?” He performed at that peace rally because he wasn’t afraid to speak his mind on racism. He wanted to make it known to everybody at the rally that racism isn’t the way to go in this world. Marley confronted racism in songs like “Redemption Song” and “One Love”. In Bob Marley’s song ‘One Love’, there is a phrase that says, “let’s get together and feel alright. Wo wo-wo wo-wo”. He’s telling people to get together, to unite no matter the race, gender, or beliefs and to feel alright; to be nice to one another and not be racist or hate others. He finishes this off nicely with his wo… to show how happy and relaxed we can be if we unite as one. The whole song expresses the Rastafari credo, "One God, One Aim, One Destiny". The song calls for peace and harmony through helping others, "Have pity on those whose chances grow thinner". As for “Redemption Song”, this song simply represents the fight for freedom in the face of great adversity.

Bob Marley also sung about many issues that dealt with freedom and inequality not just in Africa but across the world. Marley’s music and lyrics were his ways of going about what he called “doing God’s business.” He believed Jah (the Rastafarian name for God, which is shortened from the name Jehovah), gave him his music and that through this gift he was placed on earth to call his people to work toward justice and freedom. Many of his songs contain themes drawn from the Bible, from Jamaican folk-lore, from the mean streets of Kingston,



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