June 16, 2018, 6:00 pm at Center Stage, 1374 West Peachtree Street, Atlanta, GA
â€¢ All Ages Welcome
â€¢ General Admission (first come, first served)
â€¢ Tickets available online via Ticketmaster.com or without ticket fees in person at the Center Stage Box Office, M-F, 11-6. Online sales end at 5pm on day of show
$1 from every ticket goes to http://ghettoyouthsfoundation.org/
Few people were surprised when Stephen Marleyâ€™s long awaited debut solo album â€œMind Controlâ€ (Tuff Gong/Ghetto Youths/Universal Republic) premiered at No. 1 on the Billboard Reggae Album chart in March 2007; after all, the singing, songwriting and production excellence Stephen had brought to other Marley family projects over the years, including younger brother Damianâ€™s two Grammy Award winning albums, practically guaranteed â€œMind Controlâ€ would be a remarkable effort. And indeed it is: â€œMind Controlâ€ is that rare self-produced set featuring a cohesive range of diversified styles, each delivered with equal proficiency. Whether Stephen is the revolutionary roots rocker decrying mental slavery on the albumâ€™s title cut, an outraged prisoner protesting his jail term for marijuana possession on the bluesy â€œIron Barsâ€, a forlorn romantic mourning a break-up on â€œYouâ€™re Gonna Leaveâ€ or an irresistible retro-dancehall toaster flaunting his mic skills on â€œThe Traffic Jamâ€, each track on â€œMind Controlâ€ reconfirms Stephenâ€™s expansive capabilities as an affecting vocalist, a versatile lyricist and an accomplished instrumentalist while furthering his renown as an ingenious producer.
Also unsurprising was the widespread critical acclaim that accompanied â€œMind Controlâ€™sâ€ release: Interview Magazine called it â€œa quiet masterpiece, easily the best effort from a Marley progenyâ€ while Entertainment Weekly hailed it as â€œthe best Marley album in a generation.â€ â€œMind Controlâ€ was bestowed with the Best Reggae Album Grammy in 2008 while its unplugged version â€œMind Control-Acousticâ€ was similarly honored in 2010, increasing Stephenâ€™s Grammy Award total, earned from his various roles on assorted Marley family projects, to seven, a record-setting number for a Jamaican artist.
Attaining such mastery didnâ€™t happen overnight and Stephen is gratified by the time it has taken. â€œI believe in struggling to attain greatness and it has taken a lot of sacrifice to get these things,â€ he explains. â€œIts like exercise, you canâ€™t just get fit you really have to work at it. It is the same thing with music, if it come easy, it is going to go easy so we really appreciate the years, the time that it takes, the time that we put into it; what comes out of it, I donâ€™t take that for granted either.â€
The second son of Bob and Rita Marley, Stephen was born on April 20, 1972; he began his career as a precocious six-year old singing, dancing and playing percussion with his siblings in the group The Melody Makers whose first single â€œChildren Playing In The Streetsâ€ was produced by their father in 1979 and released on Tuff Gong, the label founded by Bob in the late 60s. Just like his older brother Ziggy, Stephen acquired his initial studio skills by watching his father. While still a teenager he assisted in the production of The Melody Makersâ€™ albums including their three Best Reggae Album Grammy winners â€œConscious Partyâ€ (Virgin Records, 1989) â€œOne Bright Dayâ€ (Virgin Records, 1990) and â€œFallen Is Babylonâ€ (Elektra Entertainment, 1998). In 1993 Ziggy and Stephen founded Ghetto Youths International as a means of controlling their own music and helping upcoming artists. Stephenâ€™s earliest solo production efforts for Ghetto Youths International includes his late grandmotherâ€™s (Cedella Booker) album â€œMy Altarâ€, followed in 1995 by the Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers single â€œWorks To Doâ€ and younger brother Damianâ€™s â€œ10,000 Chariotsâ€. Both singles hit the Jamaican charts and generated much excitement surrounding Stephenâ€™s burgeoning production expertise.
In 1996 Damian released his debut album â€œMr. Marleyâ€, on the Ghetto Youths imprint, with distribution in the U.S. by Tuff Gong/Lightyear. Stephen played several instruments and wrote most of the songs in addition to producing â€œMr. Marleyâ€. He also taught his younger brother how to ride a â€œriddimâ€ and has been an invaluable mentor in Damianâ€™s dramatic transformation from an inexperienced teenaged hopeful into a confident global adult hit-making artist.
The first project that brought Stephenâ€™s production capabilities widespread attention was â€œChant Down Babylonâ€, where he audaciously manipulated his fatherâ€™s original vocal outtakes from the 1970s Island Recordsâ€™ sessions, splicing them into duets with hip-hop and R&B artists, while updating the Wailersâ€™ richly textured one-drop rhythms with an assortment of samples, loops and overdubs. The results ranged from the late Guruâ€™s heartfelt take on â€œJohnny Wasâ€ to Busta Rhymesâ€™ street version of the reverential â€œRasta Man Chantâ€ to Aerosmithâ€™s Steven Tyler and Joe Perryâ€™s hard rocking raucousness on â€œRoots Rock Reggaeâ€. â€œChant Down Babylonâ€ achieved its objective of bringing Bobâ€™s music to a new generation of fans, earned a Grammy nomination, was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America and has sold more than one million copies worldwide.
Stephenâ€™s hip-hop infused dancehall beats were far more fluid and complex on Damianâ€™s 2001 album â€œHalf Way Treeâ€ (Ghetto Youths/Motown) with spectacular growth displayed by both the producer and the artist. Stephen demonstrated equal dexterity in creating rugged roots reggae rhythms, which supported the well-crafted, substantial lyrics and the seamlessness of Damianâ€™s vocal flow. â€œHalf Way Treeâ€ yielded several hits in Jamaica, and internationally, including â€œMore Justiceâ€ and â€œIt Was Writtenâ€ (featuring Capleton) and won the 2002 Grammy for Best Reggae album.
Stephen produced and contributed vocals to Damianâ€™s single â€œWelcome To Jamrockâ€, the biggest reggae song of 2005. Anchored in a blistering bassline courtesy of Robbie Shakespeare, sampled from a 1985 hit by Ini Kamoze, â€œWorld A Reggae Musicâ€, â€œWelcome To Jamrockâ€™sâ€ haunting, gritty portrayal of Jamaica became an anthem throughout the island and on urban radio all over America. Stephen was nearly finished with â€œMind Controlâ€ at the time of â€œJamrockâ€™sâ€ release but to maximize the momentum of the hit single within the international marketplace, the completion of Damianâ€™s third album now took precedence on his production schedule. Released in September 2005, â€œWelcome To Jamrockâ€ (Tuff Gong/Ghetto Youths/Universal Republic) entered the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart at No. 7, a record setting opening week for a reggae artist; it was certified Gold and won the 2006 Reggae Album Grammy while the single was honored for the Best Alternative Hip Hop performance, another first for a Jamaican artist.
Meanwhile, the success of â€œWelcome To Jamrockâ€ increased the anticipation surrounding the release of Stephenâ€™s solo effort and when â€œMind Controlâ€ finally arrived, it merited more attention than any Marley family memberâ€™s album in recent memory. Recorded at the Marley Music studio in Kingston and the Marleyâ€™s Lions Den studio in Miami â€œMind Controlâ€™sâ€ organic blend of eclectic elements defied categorization, surprising many listeners who exclusively associate the Marley name with reggae. â€œMind Control is an enlightening album, it is an uplifting album for your thought and for your spirit,â€ said Stephen, reflecting on his debut. â€œTo me it is a balanced record because you have some social messages in there, some spiritual messages and some personal messages so there is something there for everyone.â€
In early 2010 Stephen contributed vocals to two tracks on Damian Marley and Nasâ€™s lauded album â€œDistant Relativesâ€ (Ghetto Youths/Universal Republic/Island Def Jam), the hard hitting â€œLeadersâ€ and the devotional â€œIn His Own Wordsâ€ and produced a third track, â€œPatienceâ€. Damian primarily steered the albumâ€™s production but Stephen played what both Marleys describe as a â€œbig brother roleâ€. â€œWell, that means I am the teacher but Damian is his own man, so basically if I hear something, that donâ€™t sound too right, I would say that have to change,â€ Stephen offered regarding his involvement with â€œRelativesâ€. â€œIt was just being his bigger brother and guiding him same way.â€
While Stephen has built a formidable reputation handily navigating between genres, his second (as of yet untitled) album, due for release in 2011, marks a return to roots reggae, because â€œthat is just the way the songs came out of me,â€ he explained. â€œHaving to tour and having been out there for the past three years, I have been writing a lot of new material and to me and to the people around me, this album is very strong, with some very strong political songs. I wasnâ€™t as excited about â€œMind Controlâ€ as I am about this album,â€ Stephen enthused. â€œWe didnâ€™t plan it, it just came together naturally and sometimes things just work out better that way.â€