by Kelly Merritt
|Ask Ziggy Marley’s fans what draws them to him and they each have their own reasons. It’s the smile. The attitude. The unmistakable joy and positive vibration. He exudes it, lives it, shares it. More than a song or a lyric, his life force shines through beyond a tune. Listen to a reggae song and you’ll probably feel better. Press play on a Ziggy Marley live concert video and it’ll change your worldview.|
Marley means different things to different people, as evidenced by the comments on his performances from social media—“When I listen to him, it is hard to be unhappy;” “His music is calming and fun and colorful, the way I perceive Jamaica must be like;” “It’s not just the beat, but what he feels when he is playing and singing— you feel transported;” “Ziggy is love.”
For so many, Ziggy Marley has become an institution of inspiration in his own right. But Ziggy Marley, the man, is quick to recognize his humanity and credit his life to a pathway of growth and love.
“All of my life I’ve been growing into who I am in my life today and I am still growing, but I believe in love and nothing can deter me in that,” he says. “I am so confident in that idea that if love gets a chance, it will transform the community and the world into a more prosperous place, because we are capable of love.”
What brings the biggest smile to Marley’s face? His children, unbiased and free of life’s grown-up constraints. Marley takes great joy in watching them grow and learn.
“What we see in our children and other children, we can tell the future by looking at them and see what kind of examples we are setting up for them,” says Marley, so inspired by his children he decided to make children’s music. He collaborated with a team of strong musicians to create 2020’s ‘More Family Time’, the follow-up to his 2009 Grammy and Emmy winning album ‘Family Time’. Upbeat tunes feature the signature reggae sound with Ben Harper, Sheryl Crow, Lisa Loeb, Tom Morello, Busta Rhymes, Angelique Kidjo, Alanis Morissette, Stephen Marley, and Jamie Lee Curtis reading. Marley’s children Judah, Gideon, Abraham and Isaiah appear on the record along with his four-legged child, Romeo.
The songs are catchy and fun, impossible to listen to without tapping a toe or singing along. ‘Everywhere You Go’ with Sheryl Crow and ‘Play with Sky’ with Ben Harper tell a story of confidence and being supported, a message to children listening that they are loved and not alone, a la ‘You will always have love in your life, everywhere you go, my love will follow.’ The album is brimming with the joyful reggae message fans of the music relish, in that no matter what, everything will truly be alright in lyrics like ‘The sun will rise, and the sun will set, no need to fret.’
“Making the album was an inspired process that came about very naturally with getting the other artists involved and getting their songs in,” Marley says. “The whole process was very uplifting and a great stress relief, for my kids also who had a big influence on it.”
Other tracks include ‘Music Is In Everything’ featuring Lisa Loeb, ‘Move Your Body’ featuring Tom Morello, Busta Rhymes and Isaiah Marley and ‘Jambo’ featuring Angelique Kidjo. ‘My Dog Romeo’ features pupster Romeo while ‘Wonderful People’ features Judah, Gideon and Abraham Marley.
Marley is an author, whose recently published book about his father, Bob Marley: Portrait of the Legend reveals photographs and the stories to bring people closer to the human side of reggae legend Bob Marley.
“The book continues to share positive vibration because it’s about bringing people together,” says Marley. “That is his legacy and everything we do to celebrate him also celebrates the idea of more unity, more love, bringing races and classes and religions together, and it is all about that bigger picture.”
Marley poured over the hundreds of photographs to choose the pictures he felt would best illustrate his father’s life and love of others.
Each day Marley wakes up with an open mind to what his body might need that day, trusting his intuition to guide him. Willing to follow the day where it leads him, the phrase ‘go with the flow’ is a way of life for Marley.
“We actually had to leave many of the pictures out because we wanted to not just choose the glamourous ones, but also those of him that would bring people into his world beyond the musical icon and the man himself,” says Marley. “A lot of people think they know him, but this is another opportunity to give them more to know.”
In the grand scheme of all things for Marley, health is right up there with family and career.
He considers himself a friend of Garden of Life and as such, is a gracious giver of wisdom and body positivity. He approaches wellness with the signature Ziggy Marley style his fans have come to love about him.
“I am also free-spirited in the way of working out and I have learned to trust that after years of experiencing it, working out when my intuition tells me to do so,” says Marley. “It was midnight and I felt like doing some yoga, so I do yoga at midnight. Sometimes I will wake up and feel like going swimming and this more natural way works better for me than a structured way.”
A youth athlete, Marley played soccer from elementary school to high school. As he grew older, Marley learned that exercise can reduce stress.
“I realized working out was not just a physical fitness thing, but also a mental fitness thing and I was so much more enthusiastic and so much more grateful for the ability to exercise,” he says. “It helps relieve stress, be in a better mood and feel more alive and not take a drug to feel that, so I want that feeling.”
Marley also believes that the first line of defense is what goes into the body. Nature created his favorite solutions for healthful eating.
“Everything should be in its most natural form, less chemically treated is closer to the way nature intended it to be, so imagine prioritizing food as life,” says Marley. “I love cake, but I’ve experienced eating too much cake and my body speaks to me quickly.”
Marley is more likely to give in to cravings when the temptation arrives in the form of cinnamon rolls, but he knows the pleasure of eating one will be short-lived.
“I’m not perfect, but the majority of the time I am consciously eating—it’s not just tase buds, but brain buds—think about what you eat and don’t eat blindly,” says Marley. “I don’t let my cravings ruin me; I ruin them.”
Marley surmises that part of the reason it’s so hard for people to control their diet is too many choices, which require more discipline to resist.
“Just as the iPhone has an update, I try to update myself to fix what needs repairing, continuously updating myself when I see that something is not right so maybe next week I won’t have as many updates, but on another week, I may have more updates,” he says. “I don’t stay down in my shortcomings and let them sit for too long in me, rather I say let’s move forward and make things better.”
A few of the many Garden of Life products Marley and his family use include Dr. Formulated Organic Coconut MCT Oil, SPORT Protein Plant-Based Powder and SPORT Grass Fed Whey in vanilla, Dr. Formulated Alaskan Cod Liver Oil, Collagen Peptides and multivitamins, among others. Each day Marley wakes up with an open mind to what his body might need that day, trusting his intuition to guide him. Willing to follow the day where it leads him, the phrase ‘go with the flow’ is a way of life for Marley.
“I don’t fight against taking a different path, because there might be many different paths to get to the same destination,” he says. “It’s much less likely that I’ll fall off my mission for a long period of time when I am so free to be flexible.”
For Marley, the elements of nature help define his philosophy, with flexibility acting as a metaphor for life.
“Water, wind, even the trees bend with the wind and they don’t try to fight it, because it’s not natural to be rigid,” Marley says. “Be free to experience what comes, keep going on a mission to enjoy life and be flexible with it.”
There is another mantra to which Marley subscribes: everyone means something in this world.
“Everyone is as important as the next person and what you are doing matters to the bigger picture of humanity, and this is meaningful because some people lose hope when they feel they don’t matter,” says Marley, who believes good begets good. “Don’t punish yourself for your mistakes—get up and do better.”
It’s easy to make a difference when everyone helps one another. Marley’s advice for anyone looking to let their light shine a little brighter in the world, is to help the weak if you are strong.
“You can start by helping those people who are closest to you and help wherever you can,” he says. “Goodness circulates and we can do great things because we have unlimited potential
Listen and download Ziggy's NEW album, 'More Family Time' here.