An interview with Cedella Marley
The Children’s Book Review
In this episode, I talk with Grammy-winning singer, designer, entrepreneur, and the first-born daughter of reggae singers Bob and Rita Marley, Cedella Marley, about her newest picture book Marley and the Family Band!
Cedella Marley is the CEO of Bob Marley’s recording label, Tuff Gong International, and the author of multiple children’s books including One Love. A life-long advocate of philanthropy, she is the director of the Bob Marley Foundation and is a Global Ambassador to the Jamaica Women’s Football Program. Cedella Marley is a living embodiment of the way the ethics and values instilled during her upbringing carry forward the belief that, with passion and purpose, we can all make a difference in our communities, our country, and ultimately the world. She lives in Miami with her husband and three children.
Listen to the Interview
- About Cedella Marley
- About Marley and the Family Band
- Get to know Cedella Marley
- A discussion on Marley and the Family Band
- How Cedella’s childhood inspired Marley and the Family Band
- Marley and the Family Band coming to the screen
- Taking care of the physical body to help keep the mind healthy
- Learning and celebrating music in the home
- Cedella Marley’s favorite childhood books
Read the Interview
Bianca Schulze: Well, hello, Cedella Marley! Welcome to The Growing Readers Podcast.
Cedella Marley: Hey, thank you for having me.
Bianca Schulze: Oh, it’s a pleasure. I have to get my fangirling out of the way right up front because I’m a massive fan of your work and your family’s work. I have so many memories of turning up the volume to your father’s Legend album and listening to Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers. So this is wonderful.
Cedella Marley: Great. Keep doing that, though. Jammin’ Jammin’.
Bianca Schulze: Absolutely.
Cedella Marley: Oh, thank you. Thank you.
Bianca Schulze: So, before we dig into your new book, I thought it might be fun just to get to know you a little bit. So I’d love to ask a couple of rapid-fire questions if that’s okay.
Cedella Marley: Okay.
Bianca Schulze: All right, I would love to know what’s your favorite color?
Cedella Marley: Black.
Bianca Schulze: Favorite food?
Cedella Marley: Lychees.
Bianca Schulze: Favorite song.
Cedella Marley: Nice Time by Bob Marley.
Bianca Schulze: Favorite book?
Cedella Marley: The Bible.
Bianca Schulze: Do you use a bookmark, or do you fold over the corner of a page to hold your place in a book?
Cedella Marley: Neither I use stickies.
Bianca Schulze: I love it. I usually use whatever I can get hold of.
Do you have a nickname?
Cedella Marley: Nice Time.
Bianca Schulze: So it may be evident by the title of this podcast, The Growing Reader’s Podcast, that I have a giant passion for children’s books and raising readers, as do our listeners. But another form of storytelling that I love is music because the connection that I make between the two is that both books and music can help people see and be seen. And all of your books connect readers with music, including your latest picture book, Marley and the Family Band. So I’d love to know what drives you and guides you in creating these music-filled books for children.
Cedella Marley: It’s that connection. You know, it’s like my father said, you know, tell the children the truth. So sharing the truth and joy of family, music, unity, and love for one another, yeah, that drives me. You know, it makes me happy when people reach out to me to let me know, just like how you did, how much music, my music, Ziggy’s music, the family’s music, help them, inspire them, and keep them moving and keeps them positive. So that motivates me, too.
Bianca Schulze: All right. So some of the other picture books you’ve released, as I mentioned before, are based on the songs and lyrics of your father, Bob Marley, but this new story seems to be a little bit of possibly a glimpse at your family life. So would you be willing to share a little bit about your childhood and how your upbringing has perhaps inspired this new picture book?
Cedella Marley: Well, I mean, it’s right there, you know? Marley, who is me, and her family, moved from Jamaica to Delaware. She decides the best way to make friends is through music. She wants to throw a concert, and the first obstacle that came her way was rain. You know, a hurricane. But coming from Jamaica, this is nothing new to her. So she’s like, what’s the real problem? We can still put on this concert. All we need are some really good umbrellas.
You know, she’s this feisty little girl, and she reminds me of myself because I think I would have done the same thing, you know, if that was the circumstances I was facing. You know, how do I put on this concert? How do I bring this neighborhood together? I’m new here, but I’m going to explore, and I’m going to see what happens. And the music is what brings the entire neighborhood together. Yeah.
Bianca Schulze: So, knowing that this story is personal to you and embodies your desire to bring the joy of family and love and music into the homes of others. Do you have a favorite part of this story or a favorite spread from the book?
Cedella Marley: Let me see. I think it’s the same thing. When she goes around the neighborhood, inviting herself into people’s homes. And really, she’s very determined that this rain is not going to stop her. So Marley knew about storms in Jamaica, but I guess people in Delaware are not used to it. So everybody kind of freaked out. And she’s just like, Mommy, Daddy, we’re going to make this happen regardless of the circumstances.
Yeah. So it’s just to watch her bring the whole neighborhood together by doing her little chores—you know, she had to do something to get something, whether she has to, you know, take water out of the basement or, you know, help with the birds. So she’s very determined.
Bianca Schulze: Absolutely. I agree with you.
So I want to tell you a few parts that I love about it. I just love the way your other books are, you know, songs. If you’re not a singer, you can read them. But if you know Bob Marley’s music, you sing along with them. This picture book is not a song. It is a story. But yet there’s musicality weaved in all the way through, like the thunder crashing like cymbals. And you’re brothers’ muddy boots making a symphony of music, splashing in the puddle. And I love that. I love how that was woven in.
Cedella Marley: Thank you. Thank you.
Bianca Schulze: I would love to know a little bit about your experience writing this book. So like, how did creating this particular story like I just mentioned, because this one isn’t a song, it isn’t based on lyrics. So how did writing and creating this story differ from the other children’s books you’ve released?
Cedella: Well, I think the other books were inspired by my daddy’s music and lyrics, and this one, I just really wanted to reach out to the kids like me. You know, where you’re migrating to a different country, you’re experiencing a different culture. It was scary, but it was still rewarding. And this is me reaching out to those young kids who, for whatever reasons, the family has to move from one country to another. And I wanted to take the fear out of migration for children. You know, it’s going to be all right. It’s going to be okay.
I just hope when they’re actually moving that mommy and daddy put on some Bob Marley music and play Three Little Birds to let them know that every little thing is going to be all right. Yeah.
Bianca Schulze: Oh my gosh.
So there is a line, too, that I particularly liked here. I’m just going to read one of the spreads if that’s okay. And it says when Marley wasn’t ready to give up on the concept, she said, or her mother said, Where are you going? And she says to the park; you can’t fix a problem until you look at it up close. And I love that drive. I love that she just knows that, okay, well, maybe she needs to go outside and take a walk so that she can really take in this problem. And I love that.
Cedella Marley: She is just remarkable, and I can’t wait to bring her to the screen because she is just a feisty little girl from Jamaica who just believes that she can do anything she sets her mind to. And her brothers and her sisters, they’re kind of like, you sure? We’re going to ride with you anyways, but we’re kind of hesitant too. But whatever Marley says goes, yeah, it’s cool to watch that dynamic between even her and her siblings.
Bianca Schulze: Yeah. I love that they’re like ride-or-die siblings. Well, yeah, since you just said that Marley will be on the screen. That’s really exciting news. What can you tell us about that?
Cedella Marley: Well, I’ve just partnered with Lion Forge Animation, Dave Steward, and his team—they’re amazing. We will be bringing Marley and her family and all of her adventures to the screen. I mean, I can’t wait. I’ve never been so excited about really just sitting down in a room with a bunch of people and working on this. So yeah, it’s going to be exciting. It’s like I’m bringing a little bit of Jamaica, you know, to our kids or your kids, everybody’s kids who probably don’t even know our culture that well. So Marley will be bringing that to the screen.
Bianca Schulze: Gosh, it’ll be so exciting to have some flavor on the TV for our kids, for sure. You know, there’s a lot of children’s books now that are getting programmed for the screen, and I love that kids will be able to make that connection between a book and the TV and with yours, music. So that’s super exciting.
How long do you think we have to wait? Is it too soon to say?
Cedella Marley: It’s too soon to say because that’s the same question I asked too.
Bianca Schulze: I love it.
Cedella Marley: I’m anxious for it, though, but hopefully sooner rather than later.
Bianca Schulze: Yeah. Well, it’s always good to have something to look forward to, right?
Cedella Marley: There you go. There you go.
Bianca Schulze: So here’s something I’d like to know. You’re a Grammy-winning singer, a designer, an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, a mom, a sister, an aunt, and a dog mom. So you must get pulled in many different directions on any given day. So how do you choose what to work on each day? And do you have any day-to-day practices that help you stay focused?
Cedella Marley: Well, you know what I do? I take my Marley One mushroom drops in my Marley coffee, and it’s not a plug. It’s the real thing. But I do; I feel like the Marley One, in my morning regimen, keeps my mental clarity very, very clear. And then, you know, exercise. I have to exercise at least for an hour, an hour and a half. And then, you know, the rest of the day just happens. I’m a Leo woman, so I can multitask.
However, you know, I do have my OCD moments. I like things to be in order. So I have a great group of people around me who are really just there for me because they know I have a lot on my plate. I just have to remind myself that I have to take care of the physical because then the mind won’t shut down. So you just have to be cautious of your body and your mind. Yeah, and I take good care of it.
Bianca Schulze: Yeah, that’s good advice. So we have a couple of listener questions for you. I have one that was a write-in question, and then I have one that I’m going to line up and play for you that I think is an adorable question. Okay, so this one is from Sandra Meaders of the Life Is What It’s Called blog, and she’d like to know:
How did your parents teach you music in your home? What did you gain from having music in your home?
Cedella Marley: Well, just having parents who are musicians, you just kind of grew up with music. It wasn’t like our house was always bumping, and you know, the place shaking; it was a very strict home. Our mom and dad always said to us, if this is something that you want to do, you have to be really good at it. So we were trained in piano and voice lessons. Then, if we weren’t doing good in school, we couldn’t go to our voice lessons or piano lessons. So we always tried to just be good at everything, just to be in a family of musicians.
It was, and I say this because I think it’s something that we should all consider. If we put a lot of our academic lessons to music, our kids would absorb it so much better. You know, they can sing a Drake song or even a Cardi B song. And I’m not sure they actually know what the words are really saying, but there is something catchy about a beat that young kids just kind of gravitate towards. That’s why we sing our ABC. You know, it’s just easier that way; kids gravitate to music. And I think if we start to put more of our academic lessons in with music, we’ll be surprised at how these kids just kind of turn it on and grasp it quicker than we would ever imagine.
Bianca Schulze: I think that’s right, too. And I just think music is such a great thing for mental health. I know me personally; if I’m having a tough day and I’m on an errand, and I get a moment in the car by myself, you know that music is up loud. And by the time I hop out of the car, I’m feeling good.
Cedella Marley: Yeah, it’s a different thing. It does something to your mental and also your physical. You know, we might take it for granted when we tap our fingers, you know, or we stomp our feet when we listen to something. But it’s something that the brain and the body—it’s connecting, you know, so we should try and explore that, especially for our children.
Bianca Schulze: Yeah.
All right. So here’s another question this one is super cute.
Adriana: My name is Adrianna, and I have two questions. What is your favorite instrument, and who are the members of your family band? What instruments do they play? Thank you for answering, and I really liked your book.
Cedella Marley: So my favorite instrument to play—I’m really good at playing the piano, but I have two dream instruments that I kind of try every now and then, which are the bass and the drums. Yeah, so that’s what I like to play. Now in my family, we’re full of guitarists. My son, Skip, plays the guitar, plays the drum, and plays the piano.
But all of my brothers, they’re really good at the guitar. I have one brother, Rohan, who really thinks he can play the drums. He’s okay at it, but he can’t take it up professionally. Yeah, and the rest, we just kind of play around with the Congo drums, you know, the strings, percussion. You know, I think percussions are easy, but it’s also the bedrock of lots of music too. You know, it drives the beat—drives the rhythm.
Oh, yeah. When you come from a family of musicians, everybody has to know what to do with their fingers and hands. So, yeah.
Bianca Schulze: Yeah, I love it.
I was just driving in the car yesterday with two of my three kids and my youngest, who’s seven; we were listening to—I think it was Tomorrow People by Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers—and he was so curious about that reggae sound. And he was asking me, “Mom, what instrument is making that sound?” And I was like, Which one? Which sound? I don’t know. And I felt so bad. I wanted to be able to answer him. But I loved that he was able to pick up that in reggae music, there were maybe some different instruments that he wasn’t hearing in some of the other music that he was listening to.
Cedella Marley: Smart kid!
Bianca Schulze: Well, I think so, of course.
Okay, so let’s see. I have a question that I ask everyone. They say you need to be a reader first to be a writer. And I’m curious, was there a book that you read as a child that you believe made you a reader?
Cedella Marley: Well, growing up, I really loved Nancy Drew. I couldn’t wait for the next episode, and I was kind of bummed when it became like a TV series because I felt like that was not her in the book, so I was kind of torn. But Nancy Drew, back in the day, was my go-to. Yeah, I actually felt like she was my she-ro. You know? Yeah, big up to Nancy.
Bianca Schulze: Yeah, yay, Nancy.
All right. So last of all. What impact do you hope Marley and the Family Band will have on readers?
Cedella Marley: I hope it just brings them positivity. You know, the thing about Marley is that she was just so focused on doing what she thought would bring the neighborhood together. And I think we need more a little Marley’s running around, you know, trying to see how they can bring people together. We have to show our kids that sometimes as adults, we divide people. And I would like for all of them to be little Marley’s and just use their voice to bring people together to unify people. That’s what’s important.
Bianca Schulze: Yes, Cedella Marley. Wow. Marley and the Family Band is so joyful, and Marley is such a lovable, positive role model for kids; I can just imagine how your book will inspire family bands, complete with kitchen pots and pans.
Cedella Marley: So let’s get it. Let’s do that.
Bianca Schulze: Yes, absolutely. Well, thank you so, so much for sharing a piece of your busy day with our listeners and me. I am so, so very grateful.
Cedella Marley: Oh, thank you guys, and have a wonderful rest of the week and one love.
Bianca Schulze: Yeah, one love to you, Cedella Marley.
Read the Interview
Publisher’s Synopsis: A picture book that celebrates music, love, and family from author Cedella Marley. A poetic story about a young girl who moves to a new country and learns to make friends—inspired by a childhood growing up with the musician Bob Marley as a father.
When Marley and her family move from Jamaica to Delaware, she knows life is about to change in big ways. And she’s got the perfect plan to help her and her siblings make friends: an outdoor concert for the whole neighborhood!
But when weather ruins their plans, she discovers help in the most unlikely places as her new neighbors quickly become the kindest of friends.
In this joyful, vibrant picture book inspired by her childhood and iconic father, Cedella Marley assures children that nothing can stop the music as long as they have community.
Buy the Book
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March 1, 2022 at 07:56AM Bianca Schulze