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A true lioness

Observer senior writer

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Since Bob Marley's death in May 1981, his widow Rita has become synonymous with the family brand. Though often overlooked, she came into her own as an artiste during that period.

On May 3, Tuff Gong International revisits the most successful phase of her solo career with The Best of Rita Marley Lioness of Reggae. According to a statement from that company, a limited edition of the 10-song album will be distributed on vinyl.

Her son Ziggy Marley said in the statement, that 'Lioness of Reggae' was “a project that needed to be done”. He added that “her musical legacy, message and vibe is unique to her and an important part of reggae's history. This is a way for us to highlight and share her beautiful art.”

The album contains Harambe, a big hit for Rita in 1982, and the ganja anthem One Draw, released the previous year. Other songs on the album like A Jah Jah, Thank You Jah (written by her husband as Thank You Lord) and Who Feels It Knows It, were originally released on Rita's 1981 album, Who Feels It Knows It.

That album was produced by Grub Cooper of the Fabulous Five Band. It featured an all-star cast of musicians including bassist Aston “Familyman” Barrett and his brother Carlton Barrett on drums; Junior Marvin, Mikey Chung and Earl “Chinna” Smith on guitars; horn players Cedric “Im” Brooks, David Madden, Tommy McCook, Bobby Ellis and Headley Bennett; keyboardists Tyrone Downie and Earl “Way” Lindo.

Play Play, a song Rita recorded during the mid-1960s, is also included on 'The Lioness of Reggae'. Back then, she was also a member of The Soulettes.

Touring as a member of the I Three, Bob Marley's harmony group, and duties as head of the Bob Marley Foundation curtailed her recording career during the 1970s and the last 25 years.

In recent years, the Marley matriarch has suffered a series of strokes that has impeded her speech and movement. In March, she and her I Three colleagues, Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt, were presented with the Icon Award by the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association at their awards ceremony in Kingston.



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