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|Birth name||Alpharita Constantia Anderson|
25 July 1946 |
Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
|Associated acts||Bob Marley and the Wailers, The I Threes|
Alpharita Constantia "Rita" Marley OD (née Anderson; 25 July 1946), is a Cuban-Jamaican singer and the widow of Bob Marley. She was a member of the vocal group the I Threes, along with Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt, who gained recognition as the backing vocalists for Bob Marley and the Wailers.
Early life and marriage to Bob Marley
Rita was born July 25, 1946 in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, to Leroy Anderson and Cynthia "Beda" Jarrett. She grew up in the upper level of Beachwood Avenue, located in Kingston, Jamaica. In her book No Woman, No Cry: My Life with Bob Marley Rita describes how she was raised by her Aunt Viola on Greenwich Park Road. Bob was from the lower level of Trenchtown.
In the mid 1960s, Rita met Bob after meeting Peter Tosh. After it was learned that she was a singer, she was asked to audition for the Soulettes. The group included Rita, her cousin Constantine "Dream" Walker, and Marlene "Precious" Gifford Bob Marley, then a member of the Wailers vocal trio along with Bunny Livingston and Peter Tosh, became the group's mentor and manager and through working together, he and Rita fell in love.
Soulettes released recordings include rocksteady tunes such as Time for Everything, Turn Turn Turn (released in 1966, this was a cover of the Byrds' hit song based on a Bible quote) and A Deh Pon Dem. Friends and Lovers, One More Chance and That Ain't Right (featuring harmony vocals by the Wailers), as well as a duet by Rita and Bunny Livingston, Bless You were issued years later on the Lovers and Friends album.
After those recordings for the Studio One label coached by Bob, Rita married Bob Marley around February, 1966, just before her husband moved to Wilmington, Delaware (USA) for a few months to make a living working at the Dupont Hotel there. Bob was replaced by Constantine "Vision" Walker, who recorded a few songs as a member of The Wailers during this period.
Upon Bob's return at the end of the summer of 1966, Bunny Livingston, Peter Tosh and Bob created their independent label Wail 'n' Soul'm, which released several Bob Marley and the Wailers as well as Peter Tosh and the Wailers 45RPM single records including Bend Down Low, Hypocrites and Tosh's Dem Haffi Get a Beatin' in 1966-1968.
As Bunny was jailed in 1968 for marijuana possession, Rita joined the Wailers, replacing Bunny for a few months. It is at that time that The Wailers met U.S. singer Johnny Nash, who produced a series of Wailers rocksteady recordings. In April 1968 Nash's manager (and mobster) Danny Sims signed Peter Tosh, Bob and Rita Marley to exclusive publishing, management and production contracts in exchange for a few dollars and an opportunity to record in Kingston for the small, New York-based JAD label owned by Johnny Nash, musician Arthur Jenkins and Danny Sims. JAD had released a few singles before, including one by New Orleans R&B legend Lloyd Price, as well as Johnny Nash and Byron Lee and the Dragonaires.
Musicians on this 1968 Wailers session feature Peter Tosh, Rita and Bob Marley. They include percussionist Denzil Laing, drummer Hugh Malcolm, bass player Jackie Jackson, guitarist Lynn Taitt, pianist Gladstone Anderson and organ player Winston Wright. Rita Marley sung harmony vocals on a dozen fine rocksteady and soul tracks, most of which were not issued at the time. New recordings of Bend Down Low and Mellow Mood were issued as a single in the U.S.A. under the name "Bob, Rita and Peter" in 1968 (it was also released in France, where it was distributed by Columbia/CBS). Some of those tunes were released by Danny Sims on obscure U.S. labels in the 1980s. Most found their way onto the Rock to the Rock JAD album issued in 1997, but those U.S. mixes included unwanted horns added in New York and mixed out Denzil Laing, Lynn Taitt and Winston Wright.
The original 1968 sessions including all of the original musicians — and without the horns — eventually surfaced on the Freedom Time album issued in 2003 by JAD's partner in France (55 Records) after producer Bruno Blum finally mixed them in Paris from the original four track tapes. One song, Play Play Play, features Rita Marley on lead vocals with harmonies sung by Peter and Bob. Another Rita Marley sung tune, Lonely Girl, and a pop duet with Bob, Milk Shake and Potato Chips, were finally released in 2003 on the Rebel JAD/55 long box set.
The I Three
Following the birth of Bob and Rita's first child David "Ziggy" Marley in 1968, Bob returned to Delaware in 1969 to work on the night shift in a Chrysler factory. Bunny had returned to the Wailers at the end of 1968 and Rita did not record with Bob until 1974, when her husband formed the I Three (often wrongly spelt I Threes) harmony vocal group featuring Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt to replace Peter and Bunny, who had left the band in 1973.
Together with the I Three, Bob Marley & the Wailers recorded the fine Natty Dread album in 1974 and many more, first rising to international superstardom in 1975 with No Woman No Cry. It was followed up by the 1976 smash hit album Rastaman Vibration.
On December 3, 1976 two days before "Smile Jamaica", a large free concert organized by Bob Marley with the support of Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley, Rita, Bob, and manager Don Taylor were wounded in an assault by gunmen affiliated to Manley's opponents inside the Marley home. Rita survived a shot to the head and Taylor sustained serious injuries from being shot in the leg. Bob Marley had a bullet skid his chest and wound his arm. Bob nevertheless played this major show in Kingston, then went in exile.
Bob Marley and the Wailers and the I Three, including Rita, moved to London in late 1976. By then Bob was living with Cindy Breakspeare, a Jamaican model who'd just been crowned Miss World 1976. They would soon have a son, Damian Marley. In spite of this, Rita stayed to sing with her husband. It was in England that they recorded classics such as Exodus, Kaya. Survival and Uprising were made in Jamaica after their triumphant return in April, 1978.
After Marley's death, she recorded a few albums under her name with some success in the United Kingdom.
A 1982 cover version of the Love Joys's song One Draw was a successful single in Europe.
In 1986, Rita made the decision to convert Bob Marley's home into the Bob Marley Museum. She is also the Founder and Chairperson of the Robert Marley Foundation, Bob Marley Trust, and the Bob Marley Group of Companies. She has also adopted 35 children in Ethiopia and has assisted over 200 children in Konkonuru Methodist School in Ghana where she has been granted citizenship.
In 2000, Rita Marley founded the Rita Marley Foundation. It is a non-governmental, not-for-profit, non-partisan organization that works to alleviate poverty and hunger in developing countries. It specifically targets elderly and youth.
It has given out a number of scholarships to music students in Ghana's Berklee College of Music. It also hosts the annual Africa Unite concerts which looks to spread global awareness about issues that affect Africa and to develop lasting solutions.
Rita appears in the song "Mary Jane Shoes" on Fergie's multi-platinum 2006 album The Dutchess. Rita performed background vocals to the song "Raikoum" by Khaled in his album Liberté. She also performed background vocals for the song Ouelli El Darek by Khaled in his album Sahra.
In 1996 Rita Marley was awarded the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican government, and in 2010 received the Marcus Garvey Lifetime Award. On 3 August 2013, she was made an honorary citizen of Ghana by the Ghanaian government. In November 2015 Marley was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by the University of the West Indies.
Plan to rebury her husband
Rita Marley planned to have the body of her late husband, Bob Marley, exhumed and buried in Ethiopia, his "spiritual resting place" in 2005. She wanted it to be a month long celebration of what would be his 60th birthday. The area in which she wanted to bury him was a Rastafari community that was given land by the country's last emperor, Haile Selassie. She claimed to have the backing of the Ethiopian government and said "We are working on bringing his remains to Ethiopia. It is part of Bob's own mission. Bob's whole life is about Africa, it is not about Jamaica. How can you give up a continent for an island? He has a right for his remains to be where he would love them to be. This was his mission. Ethiopia is his spiritual resting place. With the 60th anniversary this year, the impact is there and the time is right."
Rita has six children, two from other relationships and four with Bob. Bob adopted Rita's two children as his own and they have the Marley name. Bob has 14 children in total: the two of Rita's that he adopted, four born to Rita, and the remaining eight with separate women. Rita's children are, in order of birth:
- Sharon Marley, born 23 November 1964
- Cedella Marley born 23 August 1967
- David Nesta "Ziggy" Marley, born 17 October 1968
- Stephen Marley, born 20 April 1972
- Stephanie, born 17 August 1974 (from a relationship with Ital, according to Bob's mother, Cedella Booker)
- Serita Stewart, born 11 August 1975 (from a relationship with Tacky, according to her biography)
- 1966 : The Soulettes Time For Everything (Jamaica All Stars compilation album) Studio One
- 1966 : Pied Piper - Rio
- 1967 : Pied Piper (single, on Club Ska '67) - Mango
- 1968 : The Wailers Pay Play Play and Rhapsody (released on the Freedom Time album in 2003 JAD
- 1980 : Rita Marley - Trident
- 1981 : Who Feels It Knows It - Shanachie Records
- 1983 : It's About Time - John Denver; RCA
- 1988 : Harambe (Working Together for Freedom) - Shanachie Records
- 1988 : We Must Carry On - Shanachie Records
- 1990 : Beauty of God's - Shanachie Records
- 1990 : Good Girls Cult - Shanachie Records
- 1990 : One Draw - Shanachie Records
- 2003 : Sings Bob Marley...and Friends - Shanachie Records
- 2004 : Play Play - Universal Music
- 2005 : Sunshine After Rain
- 2006 : Gifted Fourteen Carnation
- 1995 : Rita Marley / Ignacio Scola / Gregorio Paniagua: Spectacles for tribuffalos - Tabata Musica y Letra
Rita Marley, Hettie Jones (2004). No Woman, No Cry: My Life with Bob Marley. Hyperion, ISBN 0-7868-6867-8
- "Rita Marley - Biography". Billboard. Billboard.com. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
-  Archived 18 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
-  Archived 2 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Ghana to honour Nana Rita Marley - Entertainment". Jamaica Observer. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
- "Rita Marley gets Doctor of Letters degree from UWI", Jamaica Gleaner, 7 November 2015. Retrieved 7 November 2015
- "News for Rita Marley". IMDb.com. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
- "Meredith Dixon". Debate.uvm.edu. Retrieved 10 January 2015.