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Reggae artist Jo Mersa Marley, grandson of Bob Marley, dies aged 31 -
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Reggae artist Jo Mersa Marley, grandson of Bob Marley, dies aged 31

Reggae artist Jo Mersa Marley, grandson of Bob Marley, dies aged 31

Jo Mersa Marley attends the 2014 Caribbean American Movers and Shakers at the Frost Art Museum on October 10, 2014 in Miami. (Photo: John Parra/Getty Images)

Joseph Marley, the eldest son of eight-time Grammy winner Stephen Marley and second grandson of reggae legend Bob Marley, has died aged 31. The Jamaican-American entertainer and DJ, known professionally as Jo Mersa, was found unresponsive in a vehicle on Tuesday, December 27, according to Kingston, Jamaica-based journalist Abka Fitz-Henley, who was the first to report the news. A rep for Jo Mersa later confirmed the news to rolling stone. The cause of death was not revealed, although South Florida radio station WZPP reported that the entertainer died of an asthma attack.

Joseph Marley was born on March 12, 1991 in Kingston, and the third generation of Marleys grew up surrounded by music, performing on stage at the age of 4 with Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers – his father, his uncle Ziggy and his aunts Cedella and Sharon – at the concert finales of this group. He moved to Florida when he was 11, where he studied studio engineering and watched his father and uncle Damian Marley work in Stephen’s Lion’s Den studio. Joseph made his official musical debut in 2010 with “My Girl”, a collaboration with his older cousin Daniel Bambaata Marley, released on the Marley family label Ghetto Youths International and produced by his father. This was followed by the breakthrough track “Bad So” in 2012, with its debut EP, Comfortablereleased in 2014.

Joseph has also worked with Jesse Royal, Alborosie, Farruko, Jemere Morgan, Barbara Fialho, the Grandpickneys and Morgan Heritage, appearing on the latter’s Grammy-winning album. Strictly Roots in 2015. But of course, he often recorded with his large and talented family. Comfortable featured production by Stephen and Damian Marley, and Joseph appeared on his father’s album, Revelation, pt. 2: The fruit of life, in 2016. That same year, he teamed up with his younger brother, Yohan Marley, for the single “Burn It Down”, and the brothers teamed up again in 2020 for “Brickell (When Tears Fall)”, inspired by their adopted country. Miami city. In the spring of 2022, Joseph appeared with his uncles Ky-Mani and Julian Marley on Dominican music producer Maffio’s reggaeton track, “Blessings”.

Joseph often spoke of his sense of responsibility to carry on his family’s legacy, recounting The pier in 2014, “It’s a lot of power, influence, it’s magic, but I don’t let it go to my head. [Bob Marley] has taken a big step for Jamaican music and it’s time for me to add my works to it, to build on it. In a 2021 interview with Reggaeville, he reflected on the influence of his grandfather, saying, “On the family level, you would hear memories of my father or our uncles, you would see them posting pictures or even just talking to us in an environment saying ‘I remember when dad did this or when he came over from Africa or when dad did this interview or when he was in Italy. So we always hear these thoughts, talking about these things, the role that [Bob] played not only as a family member and father, but also in the world and the impact he had on the reggae community and reggae culture, the roots, spreading the message of Rastafari and love, over all love. … It’s a family for us, it’s normal for me, but it’s still special.

Jo Mersa Marley performs at Kaya Fest at Bayfront Park Amphitheater on April 22, 2017 in Miami.  (Photo: John Parra/WireImage)

Jo Mersa Marley performs at Kaya Fest at Bayfront Park Amphitheater on April 22, 2017 in Miami. (Photo: John Parra/WireImage)

Joseph’s last outing under his moniker Jo Mersa was in 2021 Eternal EP, which featured collaborations with Kabaka Pyramid, Black I Am, Melii and Busy Signal, and was hailed by critics as his biggest step to fulfillment as an artist yet. A press release for the EP conceded that “Marley lineage status comes with its fair share of expectations”, and said Joseph was “eager to honor his family while maintaining his unique sound and style. …setting the work of Jo Mersa Marley apart as a force to be reckoned with in the modern reggae scene.In an interview with a Jamaican publication the gleanerthe self-confessed perfectionist described the experimentation Eternal project, which incorporated dubstep, dancehall, EDM, hip-hop and reggae-roots influences, as being “out of my comfort zone”, specifically saying of the track “That Dream”, which was produced by his cousin Soul Marley “While many times I would have done the chorus, it took a minute for it to sound like that. I was usually deejaying and singing on low keys. I guess listeners will hear me doing falsetto or high notes at the end of words, so when I sing, ‘All I know, I’ll sleep at night, when I have this dream, it’s a nightmare’, I had to keep doing over and over again just to to do things well.

Besides his many Marley relatives, Jo Mersa is survived by his wife and daughter. In 2020, he recorded the single “Nothing’s Gonna Harm You!” for his daughter, with her father Stephen now a producer, explaining in a statement: “The inspiration for this song was mainly a message to my daughter letting her know that she will be well protected because this is my job as a dad.”

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