Eight-time Grammy Award winner Stephen Marley stepped onto the Varsity Theatre stage on Feb. 26 for a career-spanning performance that featured some of his father Bob Marley’s songs, followed by an exclusive meet-and-greet with Stephen himself. 

Stephen is Bob Marley’s fourth child and second son with his wife Rita. Stephen was directly mentored into music by his father and performed alongside “Bob Marley and the Wailers” on several occasions. He began his musical career at the age of 7 with the child band the “Melody Makers” alongside his siblings Ziggy, Cedella and Sharon. He won his first Grammy with the band for the album “Conscious Party.”

From then, Stephen went on to a successful career as a producer. He produced his brother Damian Marley’s “Halfway Tree” and “Welcome to Jamrock” albums, which subsequently earned him two more Grammy awards, adding to the three he had earned with the “Melody Makers”, which later became “Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers.”

Stephen started his solo career in 2007 with the album “Mind Control”, followed by “Mind Control Acoustic” in 2008 and “Revelation Part I: The Root of Life” in 2011 and “Revelation Part II: The Fruit of Life” in 2016. His first three solo albums won Grammy awards for Best Reggae Album.

Now, Stephen is continuing not only his father’s musical legacy, but also his philanthropic work with Ghetto Youths Foundation, the organization the meet-and-greet will benefit. Ghetto Youths Foundation was founded by Stephen with his brothers Damian and Julian Marley to continue their father’s legacy of giving back on a global scale. 

“We have annual programming, most significantly in Jamaica, that focuses on nutrition and wellness, education and access, and some form of arts and culture as well,” executive director Eva Silverstein said. “Jamaica, which is where Bob Marley grew up, where still today 100 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. We also have done extensive work in Ethiopia. We recently did a project in India, so we really have a global footprint but with a very strong Jamaican heartbeat.”

Every month, the foundation provides groceries for 350 elders who are the heads of their households. They also provide annual support for more than 200 young people for tuition, books, uniform, testing, school entry fees, and host sports and recreation events.

One of the bigger projects Ghetto Youths is currently working on is building a homework and computer center in the middle of Trenchtown, Jamaica, which Silverstein said will provide a critical pathway to educational success and self-reliance for young people in the community. 

“It’s going to be an incredible safe haven for kids to come five days a week with complementary access to computers, printers, paper, pens, pencils, teachers and mentors to help them and encourage them on their educational journey and to really strive for excellence and to make sure that they’re getting their homework done,” Silverstein said. 

The center embodies everything the foundation stands for — providing a helping hand. Silverstein says that in order to do that, they need as many helping hands as they can to lock arms with across the world. Concert goers who purchased tickets to the meet-and-greet directly supported the center as the proceeds of it will go toward building it.  

“[The foundation is] very much about providing aid and resources, support and opportunity to communities in need anywhere,” Silverstein said. So, it’s a principle that Bob Marley lived by and instilled in his offspring and, you know, Stephen, Damian and Julian are really caring that torch and that flame.”

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