Rita Marley has been honoured for her contribution to the development of the music industry by the Jamaican government.
She was awarded the Reggae Icon Award at the 57th Jamaican Independence Grand Gala held on Tuesday, August 6th at the National Stadium in Jamaica.
She received the award alongside fellow legend Miguel Orlando Collins, also known as Sizzla Kalonji. The two were presented the awards by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
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Marley, the widow of reggae legend Bob Marley, was chosen for this award because of her contribution to the development of the foundation of reggae music, while Sizzla was honoured for being one musician who has built on that foundation with positive music, according to Prime Minister Holness.
In the absence of Marley, Sizzla received the awards on both their behalves. “I’m most honoured and most thankful in receiving such an award from such [a] noble nation, people and beautiful Government in the Western Hemisphere. It comes as a bit of [a] surprise,” he said.
Alpharita Constantia “Rita” Marley is a Cuban-born Jamaican singer and the widow of Bob Marley. She was a member of the girl band Soulettes and later, the vocal group the I Threes, a group that gained recognition as backing vocalists for her husband Bob Marley and the Wailers.
After the death of her husband, she recorded a few albums by herself and achieved some success in the UK. In 1986, Rita turned Bob Marley’s home into the Bob Marley Museum.
She founded and chairs the Robert Marley Foundation and the Rita Marley Foundation, both non-governmental, not-for-profit, non-partisan organizations that work to palliate poverty and hunger in low to middle-income countries. She also chairs the Bob Marley Trust and the Bob Marley Group of Companies.
In 1996, Rita Marley was honoured by the Jamaican government with the Order of Distinction, one of the highest honours that can be bestowed on anyone in Jamaica.
She received the Marcus Garvey Lifetime Award in 2010 and in 2013, was made an honorary citizen of Ghana by the Ghanaian government. She was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by the University of the West Indies in November 2015.
She has assisted over 200 children and given out a number of scholarships to music students in Ghana through her foundation. Her foundation also hosts the annual Africa Unite concerts which aim at spreading global awareness of issues affecting Africa and finding ways of permanently solving them.
She currently resides in Ghana with her family.