Biographer Vivian Goldman paid an enthusiastic tribute of legendary reggae musician Bob Marley on Thursday Feb. 14 in front of a crowd of more than 50 St. John’s students in the UC Commons.
In earlier years, working in Public Relations personnel with Island Records, she promoted Bob’s music.
Vivian eventually switched roles and became a journalist. A long-time supporter and pioneer of Afro-Caribbean and world music, she later introduced mainstream white audiences to lyrical Rasta sounds.
Originally from London, the music journalist devoted much of her work to punk, jazz and Afro Caribbean music.
Goldman worked especially closely with Marley.
Marley came from a multiracial background and struggled with insecurities. Goldman told of his numerous betrayals: “He was sensitive and vulnerable and this is portrayed in his songs.”
Growing up in an urban community on the island of Jamaica, Marley rose above prejudice to become not only an icon of reggae music, but a messenger of powerful stories, said Goldman. She noted that his culture was revolutionary and part of his legacy was the spread of Rastafarianism.
Throughout the late 1970’s, Goldman watched reggae music evolved through Bob Marley and the Wailers reggae band. Marley first burst onto the international music scene in 1972 with his album “Catch a Fire.”
“Bob shattered expectations. He came out of a time of colonialism,” Goldman said. “He presented a whole new paradigm on how to live.”
Goldman also described Marley’s love for Ethiopian king Haile Selassie.
“In all my years I’ve never met a musician who didn’t want to talk about themselves, she said. “He would say let’s talk about Ja Haile Selassie.”
In fact, the lyrics of Marley’s song War, according to Goldman, gives a glimpse into the life of Haile Selassie.
When asked about her opinion of reggae music in general, Goldman responded, “After Bob passed, I haven’t been a reggae nut. I sort of moved away from it, but Jamaica never stops being groovy.”
Goldman believes that if Bob Marley were still around, no matter what type of music dominated, “he would have kept up with the sound, his music is so good…people turn to Bob the way they turn to the Psalms… He would have got hip to the sound.”
Students and Marley fans enjoyed the seminar.
“I thought this was a very informative session,” said student Sharla Elcock. “Vivian Goldman really gave a vivid picture of Bob Marley, who he was and what he stood for.”
Heidi Patience also enjoyed the lecture.
“I learned a lot about him and his humility and the way he was so generous and really made a difference as an individual in the world,” she said. “My children’s children will listen to Bob Marley.”