Special to South Florida Times
MIAMI —There are fundamental notions that rely on the simplicity of brotherhood and community and that when implemented, can make a world of difference.
Such was the case when Cedella Marley — whose parents are iconic reggae artist Bob Marley and Rita Marley — set out to write her latest children’s novel, One Love.
“One Love is the song of my father’s that kids most love to sing, but the lyrics are not quite accessible for young readers,” said Marley, who resides in Miami with her husband Dave Minto and three children. “So I adapted them in a way that was understandable, yet still kept the spirit and intention of the song.”
Her book uses the principles of her father’s song to promote a message to children about taking pride in their community to live in harmony with their brethren no matter their race or color.
The evidence of that is shown proudly on the book’s jacket, where three children — one of African-American, one of Caucasian and one of Latin descent — are seen playing together. In the book, a little girl charges her neighborhood to come together and restore their community park so that they can put it to good use.
Book cover pays homage
Marley enlisted the book’s illustrator, Vanessa Brantley-Newton, to pay homage to the essence of the reggae icon’s song. “She understood my vision completely and created a book that’s even more beautiful than I could have imagined,” said the author, who took some time to answer a few questions recently while promoting One Love during the Miami Book Fair. By displaying images of the reggae icon and using the lyrics of the song, Marley and Brantley-Newton seek to evoke the social change that Bob Marley sought decades ago.
“A new generation can discover my father’s music while also enjoying a beautiful picture book they can share with their family,” said Marley. “We’re all involved in charitable projects and approach everything we do by asking: ‘How is this important?
Who will benefit? What more good can come of it?’”
Marley, who’s named after her father’s mother, Cedella Booker Marley, isn’t only a wife and mother. She’s also an actress and singer. Her group, the Marley Girls, is made up of herself and her sisters Sharon and Erica Stewart.
Maintaining the legacy
The ladies have been on hiatus lately, so Marley devotes a lot of her hours to running Tuff Gong International, a company that publishes music, represents reggae artists and sells trademarked Bob Marley apparel. In her capacity as CEO, she manages the day-to-day operations of the company to make sure it maintains the integrity of her father’s legacy.
In 2001, under Tuff Gong’s apparel division, Marley launched the “Catch a Fire” record label, named after her father’s first album. As its head designer, she describes the label as “urban, hip, accessible and like everything I do, inspired by my father and our Jamaican culture.”
In partnership with Puma, Marley will design the athletic gear kit for the Jamaican track and field team, which includes world champion Usain Bolt, for the 2012 Olympic games in London.
Asked how she juggles family and business, Marley said: “Like all working mothers, some days I achieve balance, some days I go a little crazy. The best advice I can give is to surround yourself with people you love and trust, do the best you can, and be gentle with yourself.”
Steeped in the culture
Surrounding herself with the family and the culture that surrounded her father decades before, Marley and her family have remained a tight-knit group.
“If there’s anything better than hearing a child sing One Love, it’s seeing them read it!” said the proud author. “Hopefully ‘Little C’ — what I call the main character of One Love — will inspire young girls to learn more about reggae and encourage a future star.”
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Photo: One Love book cover