Ky-Mani Marley is the only child of table tennis champion Anita Belnavis and reggae icon Bob Marley. He was born in Falmouth, Jamaica. His East African name means Adventurous Traveler.
At the age of nine Ky-Mani relocated to the inner-city of Miami. In the beginning, Ky-Mani was unaware of his musical abilities, sports being his first love, but with his mother’s direction, he took piano and guitar lessons and played trumpet in his high school band. In addition to tapping into his musical talents Ky-Mani competed in soccer and football.
As a teenager Ky-Mani started rapping and deejaying; his first single was entitled Unnecessary Badness. He became inspired as a singer after being asked to sing a hook to a song during a recording session at a studio in Miami. The decision to actually get into the entertainment world loomed over him because of his fathers legacy. Ky-Mani soon began laying tracks- experimenting and creating, at times with his brothers Stephen, Julian and Damian.
Ky-Mani signed to Shang Records where he recorded several singles, the first being Judge Not with Patra, followed by Dear Dad as well as Who The Cap Fit (remix) and Sensimelia, all of which added to his growing reputation as a master in the new generation of reggae musicians.
In 1997, Ky-Mani joined forces with Praswell (Fugees) on a hit cover of Eddy Grant’s Electric Avenue. The extent of his star power became abundantly clear when Ky-Mani took the stage at Midem (international music showcase), which was held in Miami for the first time. Catering to an international audience in the filled to capacity Cameo Theatre, Ky-Mani delivered an explosive set which aired live by CANA (Caribbean News Agency) to thirty-six countries.
Ky-Mani immediately became the subject of an intense label bidding war. Ky-Mani signed with Gee Street/V2 Records in 1997 where he completed a collaboration with label mate P.M. Dawn on the single Gotta Be Movin On Up (Senseless Soundtrack, which went Gold in Africa). Both collaborations helped to establish Ky-Mani outside his tight knit reggae community.
Ky-Mani’s willingness to embrace all genres of music is quite evident in The Journey released in 1999. From the Spanish guitar, which introduces RudeBoy, to the lover rock flow of Fell In Love, the deeply spiritual Lord Is My Shepard or the rock steady tribute Dear Dad, Ky-mani brings songs of universal themes laced with a personal insight and passion.
Fulfilling his name adventurous traveler branching out from his music, Ky-Mani Marley has also made a name for himself as an actor playing the lead role in the number one underground movie coming out of Jamaica Shottas directed by Cess Silvera, co-starring Spragga Benz and Paul Campbell. Displaying his diversification and talent playing the role of a bad man in Shottas, Ky-mani Marley then went on to play the lead Kassa with co-star Cherine Anderson in One Love a romantic comedy infused with the music and culture of Jamaica.
Like Father Like Son (Rhino Records, 1996)
The Journey (Shang Muzik, 1999)
Many More Roads (Artists Only! Records, 2001)
Milestone (Big Cat, 2003)
Radio (AAO Music, 2007)
Maestro (Konfrontation Muzic, 2015)
Conversations (Island Records, 2016)
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.