Rita Marley grooves at IRAWMAs
Despite being confined to a wheelchair, Rita Marley, the widow of late reggae legend Bob Marley, seemed to have been in her element at Saturday night's 37th staging of the International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMAs).
The event was held on May 11, a date which has special significance to the Marley family, reggae music, Jamaica, and the reggae-loving world. It was on that day in 1981 that the iconic Bob Marley passed away at the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Miami, Florida.
One year later, the IRAWMAs had its first staging, and founder Ephraim Martin told the gathering inside The Jamaica Pegasus hotel last Saturday that Rita Marley was instrumental in its genesis. The recipient of two awards, Marley was seen smiling and moving to the music.
The artistes of choice for the Marley matriarch seemed to be U-Roy, Top One Frisson from the Congo, The Heptones, and Beenie Man, whose performances made her smile and move her left hand to the beat of the music.
Marley's entrance also caused quite a stir inside the venue as it had not been revealed that she would have been there. Photographers jostled to get the best shots, and music industry personnel requested to take pictures standing beside her.
"She wanted to be here," Jacqueline Jackson, operations manager for IRAWMA, told THE STAR. "They called and said Mrs Marley wanted to attend the event and stay for the entire show."
Prior to Saturday night's outing, Marley, who had a stroke in 2016, made her first major public appearance in Jamaica last March when she joined Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt at the 2019 Jamaica Reggae Industry Association awards ceremony. At that time, she was taken on stage and presented with her awards, but this time around, the presenters left the stage and went over to where she was seated. She was not given the mic or asked to say anything. She received the Reggae50 - Pioneer Award of Honour.