© 2024 WFAE

Mailing Address:
8801 J.M. Keynes Dr. Ste. 91
Charlotte NC 28262
Tax ID: 56-1803808
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
These articles were excerpted from Tapestry, a weekly newsletter that examines the arts and entertainment world in Charlotte and North Carolina.

People get ready: Tribute concert in NoDa celebrates Bob Marley

Bob Marley performing at Dalymount Park on July 6, 1980.
Wikimedia Commons
Bob Marley performing at Dalymount Park on July 6, 1980.

Audiences around the world are getting the chance to learn more about Bob Marley with this week’s release of the new biopic “Bob Marley: One Love.”

Marley died of melanoma in 1981 at age 36, but his voice and influence have only grown in the decades since, earning legions of fans around the globe.

Among them is Charlotte singer Tamra Simone, who’s been listening to and watching Marley’s performances for years.

“The Jamaican culture, of course, brings me to it," she said. "Just seeing the Rasta, and the dreadlocks and seeing someone ... just totally free."

He's had such an impact on her as an artist, that this Friday, she’s performing a tribute concert to Marley at Starlight on 22nd in NoDa.

She spoke with WFAE’s Nick de la Canal ahead of the performance, and said the concert might also be part tribute to her dad, who introduced her to Marley's music. Her dad played his records in their home when she was growing up.

Tamra Simone: My dad would be like, 'Oh man!' You know, 'Bob Marley. This man is great. This is some good stuff.' And this was, like, when he was first coming out in the ‘80s, and around — after he passed away. You just heard him a lot in my house, and I just remember, I’m like, 'Oh yeah, yeah, Dad.'

And then as I got into high school. That’s when I started to take on Bob Marley a little bit more, because I started to get more political and more into, like, the 1960s and ‘70s movements and stuff like that. And Marley’s music was definitely reflective of that.

Nick de la Canal: What were some of the early songs that you fell in love with at that time?

Simone: Well, of course, my father, he used to sing “Three Little Birds” around the house sometimes. I would hear him sing — he can’t sing, but — he would sing it. And I would hear that, and I just loved that song that, (singing) “Every little thing’s gonna be alright.” I love that, and sometimes I even sing that myself when things get hard.

De la Canal: And were there other songs that you, like, grew to love as you explored more of his work?

Simone: Yes. What attracted me to Bob was his revolutionary stuff, but as I got older, I tend to go toward a lot of his love songs, like “Mellow Mood,” and “Turn Your Lights Down Low.” Like those sensual, beautiful songs ... I love those. It’s just beautiful, his love songs. They were always so simple, but so poignant and just got to the point.

De la Canal: What lessons do you think Bob Marley’s music contains that we might still need to hear today?

Simone: That the struggle continues. That we still need to be fighting for our rights.

De la Canal: And that kind of gets more into his revolutionary work.

Simone: Revolutionary work, yeah. Like his songs could have definitely been the soundtrack of the Black Lives Matter movement, motivating activists and motivating the next generation to get up and stand up for their rights.

De la Canal: And he was a Pan-Africanist, meaning he believed in the unity of all people of African descent, and you can hear that in his songs like “Africa Unite,” “Redemption Song,” “Zimbabwe.” These are songs that came out 40 or 50 years ago, but does their message still resonate today?

Simone: Yes. It definitely does. The “Redemption Song” you mentioned, he says, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our mind.” We have all of this information in front of us to free ourselves, free our minds. We don’t have to be enslaved by beauty standards, by status quo, hierarchy. We don’t have to be enslaved by those things. We can actually free our minds. Those words are huge to me: “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.”

De la Canal: So you’re going to perform this Bob Marley tribute for fans all around Charlotte on Friday. What can you tell us about what you’ll be performing and what to expect?

Simone: Yes. So, Tamra Simone and the Finnas have curated an amazing show and set list of songs that are talking about party — ‘cause Bob was like a partier, you know like, let’s get life, “Punky Reggae Party,” “Lively Up Yourself.” But then we’re going to go to the revolutionary, and then we’re going to transition it into the seductive love side of Bob. It is a tribute. It is an authentic tribute to him through audio-visual, through an amazing curated set list, with a live band, some great vocals, and just have a good, good time.

The "Tamra Simone + The Finna's Presents: MARLEY" tribute concert is Friday, Feb. 16, at 8 p.m. at Starlight on 22nd in NoDa. Click here for tickets. 

Nick de la Canal is an on air host and reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal