By Carolina Tobar
At the 60th Annual Grammy Awards, the “Best Reggae Album of 2018” once again returned home to Jamaica, birthplace of the legendary genre. This time, the award winner was none other than Damian Marley, the only child of the legendary Bob Marley and Cindy Breakspeare, winner of Miss World 1976.
While his lineage may have inclined him to a career in music, Junior Gong -- a nickname derived from his father “Tuff Gong”-- carved his own path in reggae long before his latest album “Stony Hill” took last month’s Grammy win. In fact, his signature rhythms borrow from Dancehall, Dub, Roots, R&B, and Hip Hop amongst other influences, which have gained popularity the world over thanks to Damian’s musical contributions.
Over 20 years ago Damian released his first album titled “Mr. Marley,” and throughout his prolific career has worked alongside Nas, Gwen Stefani, Skrillex, Cypress Hill, Bruno Mars, and even the star-studded mega-band SuperHeavy, of which Mick Jagger is an active member.
Bob Marley’s Birthday
Damian’s fourth Grammy win came just before the annual celebration of his father’s birthday in February. If you’re a reggae fan looking to take a break from the ordinary, a visit to the Land of Wood and Water during this month is an ideal choice.
The typical joyous and relaxed disposition of the Jamaican people is heightened on the anniversary of the birth of their favorite son. Celebrating the anniversary of Bob Marley, who would have turned 73 years old this year, is an island-wide event with activities planned everywhere to honor the King of Reggae.
Though the celebrations spread from Negril on the western tip of the island to Port Antonio near the easternmost point, a good base of operations to get your most Marley is in Ocho Rios, centrally located on the northern coast. The resort town is the closest major destination to Bob Marley’s childhood home in Nine Mile and is the location of Moon Palace Jamaica, which pays homage to the singer’s influences in a variety of ways.
Expect to hear the dulcet tones of Marley tunes emanating throughout the resort but look out for a variety of special Marley-themed activities. And no trip to Moon Palace Jamaica is complete without enjoying the signature Bob Marley cocktail, made of grenadine, crème de menthe and 141 plus crème de banana – making it red, yellow and green like the Jamaican flag.
From imbibing a cocktail honoring a legendary singer and activist, to listening to tunes by father and son, to taking a pilgrimages to a childhood home and experiencing Rastafarian culture at its core, reggae and Jamaica come alive in February.