Last year, Ziggy Marley’s performance at the Del Mar Racetrack drew jeers from some concertgoers over the open use of marijuana at his show by audience members. This year Marley, 40, was back, but before embarking on his three Labor Day weekend performances, which kicked off with the “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” show on Sept. 4, the four-time Grammy winner spoke to The Coast News Group by phone about his new children’s album, “Family Time,” marijuana use at his shows and growing up Marley.
CN: You are playing two shows in San Diego this weekend, the first is in support of your “Family Time” album at The New Children’s Museum and the second is for your adult audience at the Del Mar Racetrack. If I was going to both shows what could I expect as far as a differences goes?
ZM: For the kid’s show, it will be more for my fans of “Family Time.” And for the other show, I’m doing a lot from my other albums. The kids show is a lot lighter feel for me.
CN: Your 3-year-old daughter, Judah, sang on the “Family Time” album. Does she perform with you live at the children shows?
ZM: Yeah, she loves to do that. She comes out and everything.
CN: Throughout your nearly three-decade career you have done a lot of children’s projects. Where did the inspiration come from to make a musical album that children and parents can enjoy together?
ZM: If you want to make a difference in the world, you have to speak to children because they have open minds. I tried to make music that’s very good music and not think, “Oh this is kid’s music so I have to sing it like this or I have to do it like this.”
CN: As the oldest child of music legend Bob Marley, what artists do you remember hanging out at your house as a child?
ZM: The Wailers — Peter Tosh, Bunny — the Jackson 5 came down when they came to Jamaica; a lot of the good Jamaican artists at that time.
CN: What influence did those artists have on you as a child?
ZM: As a kid, I really didn’t think much about that. It wasn’t a big deal for me at that time; they were just friends and guys hanging out playing soccer, playing music.
CN: Now that you are a father of five are there any family traditions that you carried over from your childhood?
ZM: The family tradition we had as children was like how to be good people. We didn’t have anything like dinner or family night; we didn’t have that type of thing. Our family tradition lies in who we are as people, music was a big part of that. Our tradition of helping others was something we grew up with as a family, seeing our parents and grandparents being helpful to the community. So that type stuff is the traditions we try to teach our children.
CN: As a musician, what other types of music would you like to explore?
ZM: African music. I like music that is spiritual. Whatever music I feel that does something to my spirit is what I want to explore more; something that makes me closer to the universe … music that makes you irie.
CN: As a songwriter do you work better in the morning or in the evening?
ZM: The morning. I dig it when the sun is rising.
CN: If you had an opportunity to talk to the people who spoke out about the marijuana use last year at your concert in Del Mar, what would you say?
ZM: I’m standing up for nature now. It’s injustice to this plant, which has so much use for the human race. And when I talk about this plant, I’m just not talking about smoking or even the medicinal thing; I’m talking about the industrial potential of what this plant could mean for America and for the world. So I would say there is an injustice, a discrimination against this plant. That’s what I would say. Don’t demonize nature, use nature to benefit our mankind. God put all different types of plants on the face of the earth for us to use, so don’t demonize and criminalize the cannabis plant, use it to benefit mankind, you know. Look at in the bigger terms of society, not just oh some guy is smoking pot, because it’s bigger than that.
CN: Your prediction for the 2010 World Cup?
ZM: We’re just happy it’s in Africa.