Spirit of Bob Marley Lives On

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By: Michelle Thomas
Photography By: Marie Mendoza

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Celebrations and festivals around the world commemorated the life and music of Reggae legend Robert Nesta Marley following his recent birthday February 6th. The irie vibes continued when the 27th Annual Ragga Muffins Festival got underway at the Long Beach Arena on February 16 and 17, following through to February 18 with the 27th Annual Tribute To The Reggae Legends at the San Diego Sports Arena. Both celebrations are known for paying tribute to Bob Marley as well as his music; and aim, "to carry the torch of peace and love throughout the world," Barbara Barabino, promoter of the Ragga Muffins Festival said. With similar missions, each festival brings out the most prolific voices in Reggae music along with the hottest up and coming acts all around the world.

Positive vibes and Unity were the common thread among the festivals that featured heavy hitters like Gregory Isaacs, Beenie Man, Capleton, Sly & Robbie and many more.

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Bringing plenty of charisma & energy to the stage, the roots reggae band Soul Majestic, from the Santa Cruz and bay area had the crowd swaying back & forth. Rootz Underground had conscious lyrics and a magnetic stage presence. Their performance rocked and they electrified the crowd with their dance moves. Puerto Rican reggae band, Cultura Profetica had a unique sound that had fans moving.


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Anthony B gave an energizing performance that had Beenie Man dancing along the side lines. The crowd got fired up when he took the stage and serenaded the ladies as the entire arena joined in.

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The Dub Champions, Sly & Robbie – so named by MC's Amlak Tafari & Richie B, hypnotized & captivated the audience with their phenomenal sounds as they backed actress/singer/songwriter, Cherine Anderson and Queen Ifrica. Known as one of Jamaica's number one female artists, Cherine commanded attention as she opened with her rendition of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song". She blew the crowd away with her soulful sounds & amazing voice. Her performance blended a mixture of Reggae, Dancehall, Soul & R&B. Queen Ifrica's powerful voice delivered a stellar performance that shook the fans and got the crowd jumping and singing along. She performed crowd favorites like "What Is Life," "Miss You Randy Baby," & "Daddy" before delivering a heartfelt thank you to her fans for supporting and keeping the love and spirit of reggae music alive.

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The King of Fire, Capleton, opened with an explosive performance of "That Day Will Come" afterwards imparting, "Fire is the purification for humanity" as the Long Beach and San Diego crowds continued to rock his every move. Beenie Man, recognized "King of Dancehall", became the King of the bedroom as he broke it down for the crowd and discussed the Art of Sex, and likewise professed his affinity for his musical genre proclaiming, "It's Reggae Month not Black History month because we're still here."

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Ed Robinson sang a special tune dedicated to the ladies. He touched the crowd with his melodic tunes and did a rendition to "Nothing Won't Change My Love". Fans screamed as Gentleman took the stage. He transcended his energy throughout the arena as he performed "Bounce With Me." While interacting with the audience and posing for photos, he commented that there is a lack of love in today's society & performed a compilation called "Lack of Love" featuring Sizzla Kalonji.

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Midnite mesmerized the crowd with their smooth sounds in Long Beach. Positive vibes permeated from the powerful performance that had San Diego all lit up. His encore had fans still wanting more. Tarrus Riley had a lively spirit that the crowd enjoyed. He performed hits like "Back Bitter," "She's Royal" and a love song called "Far Away." Don Carlos had the mass singing and dancing along with each and every tune.

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Long Beach closed out the festival with the Legendary Gregory Isaacs. The glow from all the lit lighters was almost celestial as Isaacs took the stage. The crowd was instantly transported into a musical love zone that had everyone engrossed in the classics like "I Wanna Love You," "Have You Ever," "Meet At The Corner," "Make You Sweat," and "Night Nurse."

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Barrington Levy shut down the San Diego crowd. The crowd erupted like a volcano as he took the stage. He performed hits like "Everyday I Love You" and "Too Experienced." Barrington said, "This is my home away from home," which made the crowd go ballistic. He performed a remix that thrilled everyone. As he performed "Here I Come" the audience recited the lyrics. He left San Diego after an encore performance - "Murderer."

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The Ragga Muffins Festival was produced by Moss Jacobs Presents and Ragga Muffins Productions. The Tribute to the Reggae Legends was produced by Worldbeat Cultural Center and Moss Jacobs Presents. The Ragga Muffins Festival had a great turn out with a higher attendance on Sunday. The Tribute to the Reggae Legends was a sold out show. Power in numbers says it all as the message within Reggae music infects the world.

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