This summer promises to be a memorable one, especially given the topnotch performers tapped by the Sun Valley Center for the Arts for its summer concert series.
The first installment of this musical triumvirate will take place Monday, June 24, at the River Run Lodge: Michael Franti & Spearhead with Ziggy Marley.
Marley’s performance will feature a large number of original songs, in particular from his most recent album, “Rebellion Rises,” with a few of his father’s hits peppered in for good measure and, for the first time, some of his mother’s songs as well.
The son of reggae legend Bob Marley and Rita Marley, Ziggy Marley has music in his blood and understands the value of family, both in terms of artistic support and meaningful emotional bonds.
Speaking of the joy of collaborating with relatives and sharing his parents’ music, Marley said, “Family is the backbone of society. Art is a good way of expressing yourself, but if families can do things together, it’s all in a good vibe. These are the people you’re closest to. It’s special to do things with family in music.”
Five other members of the Marley family feature on “Rebellion Rises,” including three of his seven children. His wife, Orly, and brother, Stephen, also contribute.
While clearly part of his father’s musical progeny, Marley has forged ahead in the world of reggae. His songs honor the roots of the genre but never shy away from trying new things, and even when the fundamentals remain the same, no two Ziggy Marley songs sound the same.
Unsurprisingly, the artist does not follow a set template or even personal routine while songwriting. Sometimes a tune comes before lyrics, sometimes vice versa, sometimes he tries new instruments, sometimes he sticks to tried and true sounds. Whatever works, Marley’s sound is defined by his fluidity and musical flexibility.
“For me, a lot of times, it begins with a thought,” he said. “Who knows where the inspiration is coming from? It comes into your head and somehow it makes itself into music.”
His latest album, 2018’s “Rebellion Rises,” concisely captures three of the most important things to Marley: family, uninhibited musical creativity and a powerful social message.
“Whether a poem, a song or a movie, art has always been the voice of the people,” he said. “In today’s music industry, there’s not a lot of music that teaches about the human condition in a way that will ignite a movement or revolution in society.”
That’s exactly what “Rebellion Rises” does, though. Without proselytizing or preaching, Marley points to flaws in the world order, to national and international shortcomings and to human faults.
Ultimately, though, he doesn’t dwell on the negatives long before offering positive messages about strength, progress and love.
“I still see art as a way to inspire positive change,” he said.
Music is not the only avenue by which Marley seeks to incite people to constructive change, however. In 2007, Marley established the U.R.G.E. Foundation, a charity supporting education and health for impoverished children, primarily in Jamaica, but also in some African nations.
Growing up, Marley was always conscious of the poverty and low-quality living in much of his home country.
“In Jamaica, a lot of people live in poverty,” he said. “As a person in my position, I decided I could help people. That’s how we were brought up. Helping is natural for human beings, something natural from the heart.”
Across his full discography, that sentiment rings true. Marley always encourages the best in people, with rarely a disparaging word about anyone.
He will share the stage on June 24 with Sun Valley favorite Michael Franti & Spearhead.
Franti’s music does not fit quite so easily into just one genre, blending elements of reggae, folk, funk and more. Rather than adhering to a particular sound, it seems that the most important thing to Franti is producing music that gets people up and moving. His upbeat tracks permeate an infectious groove that seems to inspire all listeners to dance.
“Michael’s an old friend of mine and we love to play together,” Marley said of Franti.
The two have shared many a stage and are currently touring throughout California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. The upcoming concert in Sun Valley is their only stop in Idaho, so music lovers should make sure to jump on this opportunity before it slips by.
Ziggy Marley will kick off the evening at 7 p.m. at River Run Lodge before ceding the stage to Michael Franti & Spearhead for a big finish.
Early entry and VIP access will open up at 6 p.m. followed by general admission at 6:15 p.m.
Tickets are still on sale, but are vanishing quickly. Visit sunvalleycenter.org for details.
Kick off summer with two of the best reggae musicians in the world. Dive into a sea of positivity, moving rhythms, inspirational lyrics and dancing, and let the music work its magic.