This weekend the Bob Marley, Messenger exhibit begins its transient stop at HistoryMiami before it settles at the Bob Marley Museum in the artist’s homeland Jamaica. The exhibit debuted at The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles on May 11, 2011, the 30th anniversary of the reggae ambassador’s untimely death from cancer at the age of 36.
The display includes rare on and offstage photographs, Marley’s famous Gibson Les Paul guitar, his bible, concert posters, backstage passes, tour books, an interactive drumming station and more. There is also a South Florida video supplement that includes local reggae band Jahfe, Miami artist TREK6, who created a Bob Marley mural, former Coral Springs Mayor Roy Gold, author and playwright Geoffrey Philp, and Lorna Owens, the Registered Nurse who cared for Bob Marley while he was at Cedars of Lebanon (now University of Miami Hospital).
“The exhibit came about because Ziggy did a children’s program for us and when it was done, he said he had photos that no one had seen of his dad and wondered if we would consider doing a photo exhibit,” said Kait Stuebner, The Grammy Museum’s Co-Curator of the Bob Marley, Messenger exhibit. “We decided to do a full exhibit, working closely with the family who were the other curation team on the project.”
HistoryMiami’s Chief Curator Dr. Joanne Hyppolite heard about the exhibit during an unrelated meeting with The Grammy Museum’s Executive Director Bob Santelli.
“As soon as I heard they were developing the Marley exhibit I started lobbying for it,” emailed Hyppolite. “I also went to the L.A. opening to see it for myself and knew then that we had to have it. We decided we wanted to make a South Florida connection to Marley in the exhibition and that’s how we came up with the idea of adding a video testimony.”
Bob Marley’s story mirrors the lives of many South Florida immigrants whose homelands are ravaged by poverty and political oppression. He spent part of his life creating music in Jamaica’s Trench Town, a Kingston enclave where squalor and social resistance birthed a musical genre for ghetto people worldwide (reggae).
“When I went to Bob’s rehearsals in North Miami, the man was all business,” said Earl Marks Sr. also known as Burning Spear, a deejay from Hanover, Jamaica, who spun throughout South Florida between 1975 and 1985. “Not even his wife Rita could make a joke when he was ready to work.”