Jo Mersa: comfortable in his own skin
BEING the son of a famous entertainer can be pressuring, but that is not the case with Joseph 'Jo Mersa' Marley, eldest son of Stephen Marley and grandson of the legendary Bob Marley.
According to Jo Mersa, the only challenge he faces is maintaining the lofty standards of the Marley name.
"My father has created a legacy by putting out songs with meaning. It's something I have to live up to," he said.
Mersa is currently promoting Comfortable, his EP, which is scheduled for release on June 10.
The EP contains six tracks, five of which were produced by Mersa. The project will be released by the Marley-owned Ghetto Youths International.
"I produced all except one song on the album which is called Bogus. That song was produced by my uncle (Damian) Jr Gong," he told Splash. "If I was to name a favourite song it would be Rock and Sing. It's the track that I listen to mostly."
The 23-year-old artiste attended Sts Peter and Paul Preparatory in Jamaica, before migrating to Florida where he spent four years at Palmetto High School. Later, he attended Miami Dade University where he studied studio engineering.
Mersa says his first big 'gig' came when he was four years old. He appeared onstage alongside his father, uncle Ziggy and aunts Cedella and Sharon (aka Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers) and cousins as part of the Grammy-winning group's concert finales.
"I decided I wanted to do music from I was 11. Me and my cousin Daniel began to make beats with MPCs (MIDI Production Center or Music Production Controller --a popular electronic musical instrument series) but I wouldn't save them properly," he recalled. "Then when I was around 12, my cousins and I went on the Melody Makers' Roots Rock tour. Uncle Ziggy bought my cousins an Apple laptop and we used the Garage Band software and made our beats on it," he added. "We recorded from the microphone, put on our headphones and that became our studio for a good three years. That is when my songwriting started to get more focused."
Last year, Jo Mersa was featured on the Ghetto Youths compilation, Set up Shop Vol 1 with the track Comfortable. That project introduced him to new fans, including Etana, with whom he recorded the song Thy Will Be Done.
Jo Mersa's biggest assignment to date was opening for his 'old man' on his Revelation Part II: The Fruit of Life American tour last year.
"It was a great experience. It also opened a few more doors for me musically, and also helped to spread the music," he said.