The Gleaner: KINGSTON, Jamaica – In celebration of the 76th birthday today of the first lady of reggae and matriarch of the Marley family, Rita, the Marley family has planned a series of events under the theme ‘One Rita: Royal and Rootsy’.
The activities, which span the month of July, highlight and support Jamaican communities that are rooted in causes she is passionate about. In addition, there is a $4-million scholarship fund to empower women to finish their education.
The highlight of the celebration is this evening’s star-studded concert, featuring a slew of popular Jamaican entertainers. Tarrus Riley, Chaka Demus and Pliers, Carlene Davis, Richie Spice, Gem Myers, Dean Fraser, Shuga, and Christopher Ellis will join forces to fete ‘Queen Nana’, as she’s affectionately called.
The celebration culminates today at 7pm Jamaica time (8pm ET) with a livestream of Rita Marley’s 76th birthday celebration on Tuff Gong TV’s YouTube channel. Fans around the world will be able to join the festivities and view highlights of the birthday activities, as well as the SiriusXM concert.
As she does every year, Mrs Marley will enjoy the day surrounded by her family. “Mom loves birthdays,” said her daughter Cedella. “We use them as an opportunity to celebrate life and family; so that’s what we will be doing together.”
One Rita Beach Clean-up (8 Miles, Bull Bay, July 9)
The beach clean-up was well attended by like-minded volunteers who believe in preserving the environment. A total of 315 pounds of plastic were taken away from the beach; this figure does not include other materials such as wood and metal, among others. The activity was also used to gather data about the type of trash that is polluting the beach, and increased awareness within the community about beach pollution.
Women’s Health & Wellness Day ( Jamnesia , Bull Bay, July 13)
The Rita Marley Foundation partnered with the Jamaica Aids Support for Life, Diabetes Association of Jamaica, and Personal Empowerment and Development Skills and Training Centre to provide free healthcare to the surrounding community.
Rita Marley’s Reggae Closet ( Tuff Gong International , July 15)
The Rita Marley Reggae Closet at Tuff Gong International in Kingston, focused on empowering and equipping inner-city residents in need with elegant additions to their wardrobe, at no cost. Members of the Marley family, in addition to corporate Jamaica, donated new and slightly used clothes and toys to support the initiative.
One Draw Bonfire Reasoning ( Jamnesia , Bull Bay, July 13)
This informal discussion had inputs from Dr Njeri Osbourne, Tina Walters (herb farmer), Mel Bloomfield (Mel’s Tree-eats), as well as artistes Queen Ifrica and Tanya Stephens, and was moderated by Coleen Douglas. All advocated for greater knowledge and education around the plant and its benefits to be more widespread. Stephens who also voiced her advocacy for more of the original ganja growers to have a prominent place in the industry.
Suite of Songs by the NDTC (Little Theatre, July 22 — August 14)
The National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica opened their diamond season of dance on Friday, July 22. The performance features a suite of songs in tribute to Rita Marley, in recognition of her cultural influence as Jamaica celebrates its 60th year of Independence. The performances will run every weekend at the Little Theatre until August 14.