Sunday April 21 | 11am
One Love or War?: Peace and Violence in the Life and Songs of Bob Marley
Talk Presented by Brent Hagerman, PhD, Department of Religion and Culture and the Faculty of Music, Wilfrid Laurier University
April 22 marks the 35th anniversary of the One Love Peace Concert in Kingston, Jamaica, an historic event that offered a brief respite from the political violence in the island’s capital. The iconic image taken at this concert of Bob Marley standing between the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition with their hands entwined has come to symbolize Marley’s music and life for many of his fans. Because of this image and popular songs such as “One Love” and “Three Little Birds,” it has become fashionable among scholars, popular writers and fans to represent Marley as a sort of peacenik with a streamlined message of peace, love and unity for the world. With this in mind, though, how are we to make sense of Marley’s lyrics, interviews and actions that suggest otherwise? Marley once told an interviewer that if he was not a musician he would be a revolutionary; in “Talking Blues” he sings, “I feel like bombing a church because I know the preacher is lying”; and a former manager testified in court that Marley forced him to cancel their contract at gunpoint. This presentation examines these two prevalent representations of Bob Marley in popular culture-the icon of peace versus the revolutionary-and contends that although his legacy is often reduced to an essential meaning such as peace promoter or an advocate of violence, Marley’s views on peace and violence need to be understood using his religious faith in Rastafari, his socio-political background and the struggle for decolonization.
*This talk is free with admission!