Born on August 23, 1967, the world met Cedella as a singing and dancing teenager with the Melody Makers, the Marley sibling group featuring her younger brothers Ziggy on lead vocals and guitar and Stephen on percussion and vocals. For two decades the Melody Makers toured the world establishing a new generation of Marley musical mystique, as they sold millions of albums and reaped several prestigious honors, including three Grammy Awards.
Cedella balanced the Melody Makers’ rigorous touring schedule with the responsibilities of motherhood (she and her husband have three sons), the management of the Marley family’s numerous business endeavors, and the demands of designing her women’s casual wear collection Catch A Fire, named after her father’s first album for Island Records. She is the CEO of Tuff Gong International, the record label founded by her father in 1965, and director of the Bob Marley Foundation, a not-for-profit charitable organization. She oversees Marley and Company, a Marley family entity that manages the rights to Bob’s name and likeness, and the Marley merchandising conglomerate House of Marley. Cedella also helms 1Love.org the family’s recently launched social networking/charity website. When family members realized Bob Marley’s Facebook page had more than 18 million “friends,” they decided to channel all of that energy into something positive. The site 1Love.org has partnered with the United Nations Environment Program and charity: water, a nonprofit initiative that brings clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries, to direct fans to charitable organizations and causes important to the Marley family. “Dad's message and vision of 'One Love' is as relevant today as it was thirty years ago,” says Cedella. “Now we can use social media to spread the message and put his words into reality.”
As director of the Bob Marley Foundation, Cedella supervises a range of programs that provide financial assistance and other resources to various institutions, including Kingston’s Bustamante Children’s Hospital and Victoria Jubilee Hospital (where Cedella was born); the Stepney Primary and Junior High (Bob’s former school in St. Ann, Jamaica), and the Eira Schrader Golden Age Home located in the western Kingston community of Trenchtown where Bob was raised and later immortalized in the reggae classics “Trenchtown Rock” and “No Woman No Cry.” Some of the foundation’s current projects include rewarding scholarships and fellowships to qualified individuals to attend academic and/or trade institutions in the Caribbean and Africa, as well as continuing education classes, seminars, and workshops presented by professionals in the arts, entertainment, music, and sports industries, with the aim of increasing employment opportunities.
In 1993 Cedella was appointed as C.E.O. of Tuff Gong International and she has played a pivotal role in the expansion of its operations. The Tuff Gong group of companies now includes a renowned state-of-the-art recording studio in Kingston, Jamaica, which is used by the island’s top reggae artists and producers, Marley’s sons, and an array of international artists including Senegalese superstar Youssou N’Dour, who recorded “Dakar-Kingston,” his 2010 Marley tribute album, there. Tuff Gong also houses a (vinyl) record and CD manufacturing plant, an analog and digital mastering room, a worldwide distribution network, a wholesale and retail record outlet, even a book division.
Cedella supervises the licensing of her father’s image and approves all artwork for the House of Marley, a joint venture launched in 2010 with HoMedics, the leading global manufacturer of home massage, relaxation, and wellness products. The initial items from the House of Marley include boomboxes, iPod docking stations, ear buds, and headphones, each accented with the Rastafarian colors of red, green, and gold. The House of Marley will soon roll out additional eco-friendly products utilizing woods, bamboo, recycled materials, and reduced-waste packaging, all inspired by Bob’s music and the oneness philosophy heard in his lyrics.
“We have been diligent about protecting our father’s legacy over the years,” stated Cedella. “There is enormous demand for products that allow his legend to live on and this partnership allows us to grow his legacy, while maintaining his integrity and artistic DNA in a quality manner.” House of Marley will also expand existing Marley brands including Cedella’s Catch A Fire clothing collection, which debuted to rave reviews in 2001. Her designs have appeared in numerous top fashion publications including Vogue and Women’s Wear Daily. The line is carried in major department stores including Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue as well as numerous upscale boutiques. Cedella is currently designing additional collections for the Marley family’s apparel company Zion Rootswear, including children’s clothing and menswear.
Cedella is an accomplished children's book author, having written The Boy from Nine Miles (The Early Life of Bob Marley) and Three Little Birds, a vividly illustrated story based on her father’s song of the same name, both published by Tuff Gong Books. Her “One Love” (2011) picture book is adapted from the lyrics to her father’s beloved song, which was designated as the Song of the Century by the BBC.
As if all of that weren’t enough to keep her busy, Cedella continues to record. Her latest single, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from The Lion King, was included on the 2010 release The Disney Reggae Club, a compilation of famous songs sung by reggae artists (including her brother Ziggy) with the intention of introducing children to Jamaica’s signature rhythm. She is currently at work on her debut album, produced by her brothers Ziggy and Stephen.
Despite all these roles, Cedella’s boundless creativity pushes her to new accomplishments. “I don’t think I can ever reach a plateau . . . I don’t have that type of personality,” she says. “I’m always trying to do something else.”