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OJ for Rita Marley widow leads National Honours

Written by on April 2, 2018

Rita Marley, who steadfastly developed her husband’s legacy into a multi-million dollar brand, has been awarded the Order of Jamaica in this year’s National Honours and Awards, announced yesterday by the Jamaican government.

The OJ is the country’s fifth highest honour. Marley, widow of reggae legend Bob Marley, leads a cast of entertainment industry veterans who have been awarded the Order of Distinction, Jamaica’s sixth highest honour.

Recipients of the OD are actor Glen Campbell, music producer Augustus “Gussie” Clarke, deejay Sean Paul, Herbie Miller former manager of Peter Tosh and curator of the Jamaica Music Museum, National Dance Theatre Company’s Anthony Wilson, musician Desi Jones, Roger and Ian Lewis of the Inner Circle Band and singer Jacob Miller.

Campbell, Clarke, Sean Paul and Herbie Miller’s OD are in the rank of Commander. Wilson, Jones, the Lewis brothers and Jacob Miller (posthumously) are awarded in the Officer class.

Born in Cuba, Rita Marley started her vocal career during the mid-1960s, when her husband was making a name as a member of the Wailers alongside Tosh and Bunny Livingston (aka Bunny Wailer).

She gained international fame with the I Three, Marley’s harmony group in the 1970s. When he died in 1981, she resurrected her solo career and recorded well-received albums like Harambe, as well as the song of the same name and the ganja anthem, One Draw.

Marley has meticulously overseen the Marley estate, which has earned millions of dollars from music sales, merchandise and publishing. Largely through her work, the Bob Marley brand is a mega force on par with other pop music icons like Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Michael Jackson.

Confined to a wheelchair in recent years due to a series of strokes, Marley continues her involvement in humanitarian projects. This year, she has been honoured by the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association and International Reggae and World Music Awards for her contribution to Jamaican music.

Sean Paul (Sean Henriques) is, commercially, the most successful dancehall artiste. His hit songs and albums which include Gimmie The Light, Temperature, Dutty Rock and Imperial Blaze, have sold millions of copies.

Dutty Rock won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 2004.

The Lewis brothers started Inner Circle in 1969 and figured in some key moments of the turbulent 1970s. They were the band that backed Michael Manley on the 1971 music bandwagon that helped him become prime minister the following year.

They also played on Cherry Oh Baby by Eric Donaldson, which won the 1971 Festival Song Contest; and Stir it Up, a big hit for The Wailers in 1973.

Jacob Miller, who joined the band in 1975, was their vocalist when they performed at the April 1978 One Love Peace Concert in Kingston. Miller died in a motor accident in March 1980 at age 27.

Inner Circle had a major comeback in the 1990s with the hit songs, Bad Boys and Sweat. Still recording and touring, they are based in Miami.

The National Honours and Awards take place on October 21 at Kings House in St Andrew.