Reggae artist Jo Mersa Marley, grandson of Bob Marley, dead at 31

Jo Mersa Marley attends the Caribbean American Movers and Shakers 2014 at Frost Art Museum on October 10, 2014 in Miami.  (Photo: John Parra/Getty Images)

Jo Mersa Marley attends the Caribbean American Movers and Shakers 2014 at Frost Art Museum on October 10, 2014 in Miami. (Photo: John Parra/Getty Images)

Joseph Marley, the eldest son of eight-time Grammy winner Stephen Marley and second grandson of reggae legend Bob Marley, has died aged 31. The Jamaican-American artist and DJ, known professionally as Jo Mersa, was found unresponsive in a vehicle on Tuesday, December 27, according to Kingston, Jamaica-based journalist Abka Fitz-Henley, who was the first to report report the news. A representative for Jo Mersa later confirmed the news Rolling rock. The cause of death has not been released, although South Florida radio station WZPP reported that the artist died of an asthma attack.

Born Joseph Marley on March 12, 1991 in Kingston, the third-generation Marley grew up surrounded by music, performing on stage at the age of 4 with Ziggy Marley and the Melody – his father, his uncle Ziggy and his aunts Sendella and Sharon — during this group’s final concerts. He moved to Florida at the age of 11, where he studied studio engineering and observed his father and uncle Damian Marley working at Stephen’s Lion’s Den studio. Joseph made his official music debut in 2010 with “My Girl”, a collaboration with his older cousin Daniel Bambaata Marley, released on the Marley family’s Ghetto Youths International label and produced by his father. He followed up the breakthrough track “Bad So” in 2012, with his debut EP, Comfortablewhich was released in 2014.

Joseph has also collaborated with Jesse Royal, Alborosie, Farruko, Jemere Morgan, Barbara Fialho, the Grandpickneys and Morgan Heritage, appearing on the latter’s Grammy-winning album. Strictly Roots in 2015. But of course he often recorded with his large and talented family. Comfortable featured production from both Stephen and Damian Marley and Joseph appeared on his father’s album, Revelation, Pt. 2: The fruit of life, in 2016. That same year, he teamed up with younger brother Yohan Marley for the single “Burn It Down,” and the brothers joined forces again in 2020 for “Brickell (When Tears Fall),” inspired by their adopted home. city ​​of miami. In the spring of 2022, Joseph appeared with his uncles Ky-Mani and Julian Marley on Dominican music producer Maffio’s reggaeton track, “Blessings”.

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Joseph often spoke of his sense of responsibility to carry on his family’s legacy, saying The wharf in 2014, “That’s a lot of power, influence, it’s magic, but I don’t let it get to my head. [Bob Marley] he made a big step for Jamaican music and it’s time to add my works to it, build on it.” In a 2021 interview with Reggaeville, reflected on his grandfather’s influence, saying, “As a family, you’d hear memories from my dad or our uncles, you’d see them post pictures, or even just talk to us in a setting saying, ‘I remember when dad did that or when he came from Africa or when dad did that interview or when he was in Italy.’ So we always hear these concerns, talk about these things, about the role that [Bob] he played not only as a family member and as a father, but also in the world and the impact he had on the reggae community and the reggae culture, the roots, promoting the message of Rastafari and love, above all love. … It’s family to us, it’s normal to me, but it’s still special.”

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Jo Mersa Marley performs at Kaya Fest at Bayfront Park Amphitheater on April 22, 2017 in Miami.  (Photo: John Parra/WireImage)

Jo Mersa Marley performs at Kaya Fest at Bayfront Park Amphitheater on April 22, 2017 in Miami. (Photo: John Parra/WireImage)

Joseph’s most recent release under the moniker Jo Mersa was in 2021 Eternal The EP, which featured collaborations with Kabaka Pyramid, Black I Am, Melii and Busy Signal, was critically heralded as his biggest step yet in becoming his own artist. A press release for EP admitted that “Marley’s bloodline status comes with its share of expectations” and said Joseph was “eager to bring honor to his family by maintaining his unique sound and style… setting the work apart of Jo Mersa Marley as a force to be reckoned with in the contemporary reggae scene”. In an interview with the Jamaican newspaper The gleanerdescribed the experimental the admitted perfectionist Eternal project, which incorporated dubstep, dancehall, EDM, hip-hop and reggae-roots influences, as “out of my comfort zone”, specifically speaking of the track “That Dream”, which was produced by Soul’s cousin Marley : While many times, I would have done the chorus, it took a minute for it to sound like it does. I would usually deejay and sing in some low keys. I guess listeners will hear me doing falsetto or high notes at the end of the words, so when I sing, “All I know I’d sleep at night, when I dreamed this dream it’s all a nightmare,” I had to keep doing the over and over to get it right.”

In addition to Marley’s many relatives, Jo Mersa is survived by his wife and daughter. In 2020, he recorded the single “Nothing’s Gonna Harm You!” for his daughter, with father Stephen once again producing, explaining in a statement: “The inspiration for this song was mainly a message to my daughter letting her know that she will be well protected because she it’s my job as her father.”

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