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TV Review: 'One Love: The Bob Marley All-Star Tribute'

Thursday, December 16, 1999

By Monica L. Haynes, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

ORACABESSA, Jamaica -- They were jammin in Jamaica!

Would you expect anything less from a concert honoring the late reggae legend Bob Marley? An icon in his homeland, he brought the island's music to the masses and became an international star in the process. TNT's All-Star Tribute, taped Dec. 4 in Jamaica and scheduled to air at 8 p.m. Sunday, is an attempt to bring his music to a new generation of fans.

Marley recorded 12 albums between 1969 and 1981, when he died of cancer in a Miami hospital at the age of 36. Since his death, a number of Marley compilation albums have been released including 1983's "Legend," the biggest-selling reggae album of all time.

However, Marley's music was about more than the island beats, which are rooted in the rhythms of Africa. His music carried a message of spirituality, freedom from oppression and the joy of living.

Being in the audience at the tribute held on James Bond Beach in Oracabessa, Jamaica, was an electrifying experience. Marley's fans are from a broad spectrum of ages and ethnicities who find common ground in their love for the man and his music.

"I was born a Bob Marley fan," said Jamaican university student Danielle Harriott, as she danced to Marley music played before the start of the concert. She saved lunch money to afford a ticket, which was $2,900 in Jamaican money.

    Musicians express respect for Marley

Here's what musicians participating in "One Love: TNT's All-Star Tribute to Bob Marley" had to say about the man and his music:

Erykah Badu -- "Bob Marley is a prophet and I want to carry on his truth and light in everything I do."

Chrissie Hynde -- "I think his spiritual message is the reason why he wasn't more popular with the masses, and I think the reason the music has lived on, why he is so popular, is because he had a spiritual message."

Queen Latifah -- "People just love the songs. It's good music and that just transcends all time."

Busta Rhymes -- "For me it's like one of those blessed moments that I cherish. This is where my family is from; I feel strong and proud about Jamaica. [About Marley's music] it goes way beyond the sound of the music. It has feelings and it inspires feelings that you might not be aware of."

Rita Marley -- "It's awesome. So many great artists on one stage doing one song for one man. It's such a happy feeling together as one. That's what Bob wanted. He said, 'Play I on the R&B, I want all my people to see.' "


Lenny and Jodie Surprenant, a couple from Boston, discovered Marley six years ago when a friend gave them "Legends." Looking for a place to go for their anniversary they decided on Jamaica when they learned about the concert via the Internet.

Lenny, definitely feeling the groove of the music, vowed to return with his children, too.

Some of the audience enthusiasm is lost on the preview videotape, which to be fair has not been fully edited, mixed and whatever else they do to produce a final broadcast-ready product.

But that doesn't mean Marley fans or even those who don't know his music won't find something to enjoy.

Lead by son and musical director Stephen Marley, the band is tight and includes musicians from his father's group, The Wailers, and original backup singers The I-Threes, which includes Bob Marley's wife Rita. The concert is skewed toward the hip-hop generation with performances by Lauryn Hill, who has two children with Marley's son Rohan; Queen Latifah; hot new rapper Eve; Busta Rhymes; and Erykah Badu.

Non-hip-hoppers, however, are not left out. Also performing is Chrissie Hynde, Darius Rucker, Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes, Tracy Chapman, Ben Harper, Dr. John and reggae and Marley contemporary Jimmy Cliff. The names of Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow and Seal were on posters for the event, but all were no-shows with no explanation given.

It's no surprise that the biggest ovations went to five-time Grammy winner Hill, who started the show with her rendition of "Turn Your Lights Down Low." Hill and Ziggy Marley also sang together on the haunting "Redemption Song."

Adding true Jamaican flavor to the show was Cliff, who sang duets with Hynde on "Jammin" and with Badu on "No Woman No Cry."

Marley's younger sons, Julian, Damian and Ky-mani, got their turns at bat singing and rapping on several tunes. Julian performed "Rastaman Chant" with Rhymes. Ky-mani backed up Ben Harper on "Get Up Stand Up," which should have been a crowd-pleaser, but came off kind of flat. Ky-mani's solo performance on "Sun Is Shining" was cut from the TV special. A remix of the song has become a hit on European dance charts and a version is being released in the United States.


"One Love: The Bob Marley All-Star Tribute"

When: Sunday at 8 p.m. on TNT.

Featuring: Lauryn Hill, Queen Latifah, Eve, Busta Rhymes and Erykah Badu.


Also cut from the show was Stephen's rendition of "I'll Be By Your Side," a touching song about a mother's love made even more moving when he was joined on stage by his paternal grandmother, Cedella Booker Marley.

Chapman seemed to be having fun with "Three Little Birds." She then joined Ziggy and Stephen for "Trenchtown Rock," a song that states "one good thing about music, when it hits, you feel no pain."

Eve was surprisingly good, even singing a bit on "Rat Race." She admitted in the press room that she finished writing her rap for the song in the car on the way to the show.

The highlight of the show was watching Marley's children, Ziggy, Stephen, Cedella and Sharon, stretch out on an extended version of "Could You Be Loved." It was a true jam session incorporating dancing, singing and rapping. All four Marleys are part of Ziggy's Grammy-winning group, The Melody Makers.

That little musical frolic among siblings was much more entertaining than "One Love," the requisite finale with everyone on stage. The message of the song, however, is a pretty good idea. "Let's get together and feel all right."

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