Decades after his death, Bob Marley remains the most successful reggae musician in the world. Marley is also a powerful symbol of pride, independence, and peace for people of African descent. Here, he performs at a celebration of Zimbabwe's independence from Great Britain (it was the colony of Rhodesia) in 1980.

Photograph by Paul Weinberg, courtesy Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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    On February 6, 1945, Nesta Robert “Bob” Marley was born in Nine Mile, Jamaica. Bob Marley emerged as the single most influential reggae musician of all time. He is closely associated with Jamaican national identity and Rastafarian spirituality.
     
    Marley’s hit songs made reggae popular around the world. Reggae is a slow, syncopated, rhythm-heavy music that developed in Jamaica in the 1960s. Reggae lyrics often focus on social and spiritual issues. It is sometimes identified with Jamaican independence, achieved in 1962, and Rastafarian spirituality, which traces its roots to Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I and Jamaican political leader Marcus Garvey.
     
    Marley emphasized unity and peace in his music, often at great risk. Prior to a concert to unite contentious Jamaican political parties, Marley was shot and wounded. He performed as scheduled the following day, however, saying, “The people who are trying to make this world worse aren’t taking a day off. How can I?”
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    achieve Verb

    to accomplish or attain.

    contentious Adjective

    often leading to argument.

    emerge Verb

    to develop or come into view.

    emphasize Verb

    to stress or place importance on.

    influential Adjective

    important; having the ability to lead the opinions or attitudes of others.

    lyric Noun

    words to a song or poem.

    millennium Noun

    1000 years.

    prior Adjective

    before or ahead of.

    Rastafarian Adjective

    follower of the Rastafari movement, a Jamaican monotheistic spirituality that worships Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I as an embodiment of God, whom they call Jah.

    reggae Noun

    type of Jamaican popular music, often with strong, slow, syncopated rhythms and socially relevant lyrics.

    syncopate Verb

    in music, to place an emphasis on beats normally not accented.

    tremendous Adjective

    very large or important.