Stephen Marley

The second son of Bob and Rita Marley, eight time Grammy winning musician and producer 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 “Children Playing in The Streets” was produced by their father in 1979 and released on Tuff Gong, the label founded by Bob in the late 60s. While still a teenager he assisted in the production of The Melody Makers’ albums including their three Best Reggae Album Grammy winners “Conscious Party” (Virgin Records, 1989) “One Bright Day” (Virgin Records, 1990) and “Fallen Is Babylon” (Elektra Entertainment, 1998).

In 1993 Ziggy and Stephen founded Ghetto Youths International as a means of controlling their own music and helping upcoming artists. Stephen’s earliest solo production efforts for Ghetto Youths International includes his late grandmother’s (Cedella Booker) album “My Altar”, followed in 1995 by the Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers single “Works To Do” and younger brother Damian’s “10,000 Chariots”. In 1996 Damian released his debut album “Mr. Marley”, on the Ghetto Youths imprint, on which Stephen played several instruments and wrote most of the songs, as well as producing the album.

Jo Mersa Marley

As the eldest son of Stephen Marley and grandson of Bob Marley, Joseph “Jo Mersa” Marley grew up surrounded by music. By the time he was four years old, Jo was appearing onstage alongside his father, his uncle Ziggy and aunts Cedella and Sharon (a.k.a. Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers) and their children as part of the group’s rousing concert finales with Jo often taking the mic and chanting the lyrics to the Melody Makers’ biggest songs, much to the delight of their audiences. Born in Kingston, Jamaica on March 12, 1991, Jo moved to Miami at age 11 where he keenly observed his father and his uncle Damian as they created music in Stephen’s Lion's Den studio. Back then school was the priority for Jo; traveling with Ziggy and the Melody Makers was reserved for school breaks and summer vacations, yet those experiences provided first hand opportunities for Jo to expand his musical aspirations beyond the performance stage.

“I started making beats with MPCs (MIDI Production Center or Music Production Controller, a popular electronic musical instrument series) when I was about 11 but I wouldn’t save them properly,” Jo recalled in an interview in his father’s Miami studio. “Then when I was around 12 my cousins and I went on the Melody Makers’ Roots Rock tour. Uncle Ziggy bought my cousins an Apple laptop and we used the Garage Band software and made our beats on it; we recorded from the microphone, put on our headphones and that became our studio for a good three years. That is when my song writing started to get more focused and it even made my writing in school better because I started to take my words more seriously.”

The seriousness of Jo’s words is affirmed by the five tracks featured on his debut EP “Comfortable” due in Spring 2014 on the Marley family’s imprint Ghetto Youths International (GYI). Spanning pop, hip hop, EDM and dancehall influences, the “Comfortable” EP showcases deft lyrical skills, ranging from Jo’s speed deejaying recounting of experiences with insincere women on “Bogus” (gimme the real woman who nah bogus through the last name they run down Joseph) produced by his uncle Damian Marley, to his cleverly-rhymed detailing of a budding relationship contrasted by his sweetly sung hook on the title track.

Originally released in February 2013 on the GYI compilation “Set Up Shop Volume 1”, which topped the Billboard Reggae Album chart, the sleek electro-dancehall hybrid “Comfortable” and its accompanying video generated a strong response among music fans so it was chosen as the title track for Jo’s EP. Comfortable is also an apt description of Jo’s approach to music making. “We talked about it as a team, me, my father and my uncle Damian and “Comfortable” was just the most fitting name; the word works on many levels: I am just getting comfortable enough to give you a peace of my mind, comfortable enough so that I can open up and share my views, my thoughts and my heart,” Jo explained.

Like his father and grandfather, Joseph Marley is an avid football (soccer) player; he received his nickname Jo Mersa from famed Jamaican footballer Alan “Skill” Cole, a close friend of his grandfather. Joseph’s competitive football playing technique suggested to Skill the determination of a boxer in a ring so he started calling him Joe Mercer, referring to the UK boxer, and the nickname stuck.

Jo also inherited his father and grandfather’s abundant musical talent and he has been greatly influenced by their accomplishments but the decision to pursue a career as an artist was completely his own. “My father left it up to me; when I grew up it was my choice which way I wanted to go. And from there he said ok, if that’s what you want to do, let’s see how motivated you are.”

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