5 December 2007, Los Angeles — Ky-Mani Marley has been bringing rock audiences to their feet and earning rave reviews opening the news making Van Halen reunion tour of sold out arenas this fall, proving himself up to the challenge of the unusual pairing. For as the title of his recently released CD Radio implies, the mix of reggae roots, hip-hop, world music, R&B, rock and pop played by the second youngest son of musical icon Bob Marley has broad mainstream appeal.
As the Winston-Salem Journal noted on the tour’s first shows, “Startled Van Halen fans in Charlotte and Greensboro gave Marley standing ovations at the end of his sets. This is all the more impressive since many people have never heard of him, much less his dramatic, street-smart music.” And as USA Today observed, Marley “flashed his own charismatic side by enthralling the crowd with The March, a hip-hop/reggae hybrid song from his new album, Radio, that juxtaposed the war in Iraq with street violence.” The topical song that has been captivating audiences on the tour is set to be released as his next single in the new year.
And for Marley, opening the tour fits right in with his mission to make music that can reach fans of most any and every style. “I’ve played in front of big crowds before, but to be able to share the stage with Van Halen, that’s where the big honor comes in,” he says. “It gives me a platform to play some music that a lot of people don’t know I have, and the reception is overwhelming.”
Meanwhile Radio, which hit #1 on Billboard’s Top Reggae Albums its week of release, continues to gather steam on a range of charts. It also reached the Top 30 of the Heatseekers chart, the Top 40 of Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and the Top 50 on the Top Independent Albums chart. Radio recently debuted at #35 on CMJ’s New World chart and holds steady at #3 on the Top Reggae Albums chart after nine weeks. And Marley has charted Top 10 at a number of key hip-hop and world music stations while picking up adds at a number of Top 200 and Mainstream Rhythmic reporting stations.
Similarly, Marley’s video for the single “One Time” is in rotation on Music Choice, MTV Jams, VH1 Soul and BET J. And his reality series “Living The Life of Marley” is the #4 Top Show on BET J.
Marley was invited to open the reunion tour of the superstar band thanks to Roth. “He’s a fan. He’s a big fan of my dad. And apparently, he knows some of the work that I’ve done. He was a fan of a movie I did called ‘Shottas,’ and in no way would I have imagined he would have been a fan of that.
“I think at the end of the day [Van Halen and Roth] see that I’m more than just a reggae artist. I don’t do what’s typically expected of me, and it’s the unexpected that gets your attention. On top of that they recognize that I am a good artist with something to say.”
Conversely, Marley discovered that he was already a fan of Van Halen’s music even though he wasn’t yet aware of it. “When it was time to go out with Van Halen, I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to buy the greatest hits,’ and then when I was listening I realized, ‘I know all these songs,’” he explains. “I was a Van Halen fan, unknowingly, because a lot of Van Halen stuff is played in Jamaica.”
USA Today praises how Marley “incurred favor with the crowd by opening his half hour set with ‘Roots, Rock, Reggae’ and finishing with ‘No Woman, No Cry,’ two songs from his late father Bob Marley’s repertoire. However, he flashed his own charismatic side by enthralling the crowd with ‘The March,’ a hip-hop/reggae hybrid song from his new album, Radio, that juxtaposed the war in Iraq with street violence.”
The tour is giving Marley an opportunity to distinguish himself from the formidable legacy of his father, whose music he draws from and mixes with his many influences to create a sound all his own. As the Worcester Telegram & Gazette notes, “[Marley] proved to be a mighty talent in his own right with songs that put a contemporary edge on his reggae roots.”
“I always try to bill myself as an artist who can play on any stage with anyone,” Marley explains. “I’ve played in front of big crowds before, but to be able to share the stage with Van Halen, that’s where the big honor comes in. It gives me a platform to play some music that a lot of people don’t know I have, and the reception is overwhelming.”
“The tour is going very smooth, and all the guys in Van Halen are great,” says Marley, who has been learning some valuable lessons from the headliners. “What I’ve taken from Van Halen is how to be yourself on stage. I go out and watch them almost every night, and they seem very open, very free-spirited.”
“I thought this would be a great platform to play some music for an audience I haven’t played for before,” Marley says of his opening slot for Van Halen, which continues through the end of the year along with some select headlining club dates of his own. “They’re getting something they didn’t expect to get. They’re surprised, and they’re loving it. It’s something new and fresh that people can relate to. I express a lot of passion in my music.
“It’s great,” he enthuses. “I get to show and prove and that’s exactly what I’m doing. I love every minute of it. I leave after every show feeling like I got my point across.
“My focus is to just do the best I can, and it’ll pay off,” he concludes. “My ultimate mission is to change the hearts and lives of people. I have music for everybody. So my thing is, if I can capture one fan, then I’ve done my job.”
|Ky-mani Marley tour dates (opening for Van Halen and headlining club shows):|
|12/3/2007||Seattle, WA||KeyArena at Seattle Center|
|12/5/2007||Vancouver, BC||General Motors Place|
|12/7/2007||Calgary, AB||Pengrowth Saddledome|
|12/9/2007||Edmonton, AB||Rexall Place|
|12/11/2007||Spokane, WA||Big Easy (Headlining)|
|12/12/2007||Boise, ID||Big Easy (Headlining)|
|12/14/2007||Los Angeles, CA||Staples Center|
|12/15/2007||Santa Cruz, CA||The Catalyst (Headlining)|
|12/16/2007||San Jose, CA||HP Pavilion At San Jose|
|12/18/2007||Anaheim, CA||Honda Center|
|12/20/2007||Anaheim, CA||Honda Center|
|12/22/2007||Oakland, CA||Oracle Arena|
|12/25/2007||Aspen, CO||Belly Up (Headlining)|
|12/28/2007||Las Vegas, NV||MGM Grand Garden Arena|
|12/30/2007||Las Vegas, NV||MGM Grand Garden Arena|
|1/22/2008||Oklahoma City, OK||Ford Center|
|1/24/2008||San Antonio, TX||AT&T Center|
|1/26/2008||Dallas, TX||American Airlines Center|
|1/28/2008||Houston, TX||Toyota Center|
|2/1/2008||Denver, CO||Pepsi Center|
|2/4/2008||Omaha, NE||Qwest Center Omaha|
|2/8/2008||New Orleans, LA||New Orleans Arena|
|2/12/2008||Sunrise, FL||BankAtlantic Center|
|2/16/2008||Jacksonville, FL||Jacksonville Veterans Mem. Arena|
|2/18/2008||Tampa, FL||St. Pete Times Forum|
|2/22/2008||Charlottesville, VA||John Paul Jones Arena|
|3/5/2008||Cincinnati, OH||U.S. Bank Arena|
|3/7/2008||Raleigh, NC||RBC Center|
|3/9/2008||Baltimore, MD||1st Mariner Arena|
|3/11/2008||Manchester, NH||Verizon Wireless Arena|
|3/13/2008||East Rutherford, NJ||Izod Center|
|3/17/2008||New York, NY||Madison Square Garden Arena|
|3/19/2008||Hershey, PA||Giant Center|
|3/21/2008||Pittsburgh, PA||Mellon Arena|
|3/24/2008||Providence, RI||Dunkin” Donuts Center|
|3/26/2008||Uncasville, CT||Mohegan Sun|
|3/28/2008||Atlantic City, NJ||Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall|
|3/30/2008||Saint Louis, MO||Scottrade Center|
|4/1/2008||Columbus, OH||Schottenstein Center|
|4/3/2008||Rosemont, IL||Allstate Arena|
|4/5/2008||Grand Rapids, MI||Van Andel Arena|
|4/7/2008||Milwaukee, WI||Bradley Center|