Born on 420, Stephen “Ragga” Marley Invites You To A Blazing Birthday Celebration

Now in its third year, Kaya Fest was launched with a mission that goes beyond music. Don’t mistake this event for just a “smoke out.” Yes the festival kicks off on April 20, which is also Stephen Marley’s birthday—and just happens to coincide with 4/20, the official herbalists’ holiday. But Kaya Fest’s stated purpose is “Education before Recreation.” More specifically, the festival’s goal is “to educate the people of the many uses of this plant as well as to inspire and encourage positive public awareness.” But of course music and herb is a perfect combination, and nobody pairs them better than the Marley family. Story Continues After The Jump…

“Kaya Fest is a music and awareness festival,” says Ragga. “The awareness is about cannabis and educating one about the many benefits of cannabis. My father has always been an advocate, my grandparents, that was our culture … being educated in the many different benefits of the plant. More than just as a sacrament, the industrial use, all those things.” The festival has come along at the perfect time, as reforms in cannabis law have eased up the pressure on this powerful plant. Ten states in the U.S. have legalized recreational use of marijuana. Thus far Florida has approved medical marijuana use only.

“It is good to see progress,” says Ragga, an eight-time Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, musician and producer. “We definitely see some progress. But then, you know, it’s frustrating. You know that truth, and you still don’t want to accept the truth about the benefit of the plant,” he says. “So that is the part that really upsets us the most, as far as the system, as far as the government. They know the truth, but them, for their reasons, them deny the truth. For a very long time.”

Kaya Fest is Marley’s attempt to share knowledge about the cannabis plant, from its medical properties to the commercial applications of hemp. On Friday, the Kaya Fest 2019 Education Before Recreation Symposium is 11 a.m.-4 p.m. at History Miami Museum, 101 W. Flagler St. The free event will feature an expert panel discussing uses of the cannabis plant and the legal issues involved.
But Kaya Fest is best known for its lineup of music, presented at Bayfront Park Amphitheater. This year’s lineup includes Pitbull, the hip-hop star that Marley met through brother Ky-Mani Marley. Ragga and Pitbull have collaborated in the past, on the hit single “Options.” Other acts on the Kaya Fest 2019 bill include Afrobeats star Davido, dancehall hitmaker Sean Paul, hip hop legend Busta Rhymes, reggae ambassdors Third World, soca sensation KES the Band, rising star Koffee, producer and DJ Walshy Fire, as well as Chi Ching Ching, Protoje, Yaadcore, Farruko and others. Arguably the highlight highlight of the festival will be a rare performance by Stephen and four other sons of Bob Marley, his brothers Ziggy, Damian, Ky-Mani and Julian. Also taking the stage will be some of Bob Marley’s grandchildren, including Skip Marley, Jo Mersa Marley, Yohan Marley, Mystic Marley, Daniel Bambaata Marley and DJ Shacia Päyne Marley. Skip Marley is the son of Bob Marley’s daughter, Cedella; Jo Mersa, Yohan, Mystic and Shacia Päyne Marley are Stephen’s children; Daniel Bambaata Marley is Ziggy’s son. Jo Mersa Marley has a new album on the way and Mystic recently performed on her father’s tour in support of his 2018 album, “One Take: Acoustic Jams.”

“It’s the third generation. It definitely makes me very proud to see their organic growth in music. Especially because I didn’t push them in that direction. This is what they have inside of them. So, yes, it’s very pleasing to see the seed from the fruit,” Marley says.

When the five of them reunited onstage at Kaya Fest in Miami in 2017, it was their first performance together in 20 years. Marley says these shows leave a deep impression on him. “The time is very powerful to me. It’s full circle, you know?” he says. “I would say it’s the closest we get to Bob when all of us is there and present. You see different sides of our seed, our father, right there, all in one place.”

Kaya Fest 2019 is 1:30 p.m. to midnight Saturday, April 20, at Bayfront Park Amphitheater, 301 N. Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Visit www.KayaFestivals.com for tickets.

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