Bob Marley was bigger than pop music. The legendary Jamaican singer-songwriter blended music with spirituality, humanitarianism and politics to leave an imprint that survived his death on May 11, 1981. Although he was only 36, his legacy is durable. An exhibition celebrating the artist who put reggae on the international music map opened Friday at Themuseum. It continues in downtown Kitchener through to Sept. 2. One Love: A Bob Marley Exhibition features 40 photographs and 70 objects, in addition to video, documentary film and interactive installations, which chronicle Marley’s life, times and music.
Organized by the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live, the exhibition debuted in Los Angeles before being featured at the Summer Olympics in London.
After closing here — its only Canadian stop — the exhibition travels to Miami. Then it will be dismantled, with the Marley artifacts returning to Jamaica.
The exhibition places Marley in a larger cultural framework.
Through story, image and artifact, it traces the cultural forces, including ska music and Rastafarian spirituality, that influenced the reggae artist, who, in turn, influenced peers and subsequent generations of musicians.
The black and white and coloured photos reveal Marley’s various sides.
Some show him in performance. There are portraits, both familiar and rare, as well as photos of family and friends in Jamaica. Others document his love of sports, especially soccer, and his importance as a humanitarian, peace advocate and political activist.
In terms of the objects, a denim performance shirt and customized Les Paul model, solid-body electric Gibson guitar are the most prized of Marley’s possessions. Other items include the artist’s personal Bible and handwritten set list.
Also included is a replica of the kind of chalice Marley used to smoke cannabis, an important component of Rastafarian spirituality.
A denim shirt, knitted tam and guitar owned by Marley’s musical son Ziggy are on display.
There is also a Martin acoustic guitar owned by Wyclef Jean, the three-time Grammy award-winning Haitian-American rapper, singer-songwriter, record producer and politician, influenced by Marley.
Other items include the obligatory concert paraphernalia, encompassing posters, pins, buttons, backstage passes, a sun visor and T-shirts, as well as vinyl records (including a 45 rpm of Eric Clapton’s cover of I Shot the Sheriff) and album jackets.
A video shows Marley, his family and many of the musicians influenced by the Jamaican singer-songwriter, including Carlos Santana. Another video presents Live at the Rainbow, a 1977 concert Marley made with The Wailers to promote his Exodus album.
Many of the objects were provided by Neville Garrick, Marley’s close friend, creative director, tour manager and photographer.
The exhibition is rounded out with an interactive booth in which gallerygoers can remix a Marley song with overdubs. Another interactive booth offers instruction on reggae percussive rhythms.
Marley, a 2012 documentary on the artist’s life, music and legacy directed by Kevin Macdonald, is also on view. Ziggy Marley, Jimmy Cliff and Lee “Scratch” Perry are some of the musicians who appear.
One Love: A Bob Marley Exhibition
On view through Sept. 2
Information and tickets available at 519-749-9387 or online at www.themuseum.ca.