Ky-Mani is a fitting name for a charismatic artist whose East African name means “adventurous traveler.” Born on February 26, 1976, Ky-Mani Marley is the son of Bob Marley and table tennis champion Anita Belnavis. Ky-mani is the second youngest of Bob’s eleven children. While bearing the Marley name, Ky-Mani’s childhood told a different story. Born in Falmouth, Trelawney, Jamaica and settling in Miami, Florida at the age of seven, he was raised in the inner-city in a two bedroom home along with eight family members.
Being exposed to an urban lifestyle, Ky-Mani adopted the attitude that all people are equal – no one is above or beneath him. This attitude has become the motto for the way he lives his life today. Humble. Soft spoken. Sincere. Loyal. Honest. Genuine. These are the makings of Ky-Mani Marley.
As a child he had no interest following in the footsteps of his world-famous father and was more inclined to play sports. However, the seed that was planted by Bob’s legacy sprouted in 1997 when Ky-Mani teamed up with hip hop artist Pras of The Fugees for a rendition of Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue.” This would be the defining moment in his journey which would lead him to pick up the torch his iconic father lit so many years ago.
Remaining true to his Jamaican culture, Ky-Mani’s fondness for all genres of music influences the work he creates. He is an artist with no limits. Incorporating world music, hip hop, blues, rock and a grass roots sound into his music, the end product is the pure representation of life for Ky-Mani. His sound is one that transcends cultural lines and prohibits him from being categorized as only a reggae artist. His raw, unadulterated, gruff sound captures the listener and reverberates the essence of Ky-Mani’s life story. Songs such as “Dear Dad,” “I Pray,” and “Ghetto Soldier” display the versatility and fiery-passion he exudes when sharing his voyage through song. Peace. One Love. Unity. Street Life. These are the makings of Ky-Mani’s music.
Ky-Mani has three studio albums to his credit: The Journey (Shang), in 1999, which received mass critical acclaim and peaked at #7 on the Billboard reggae album charts; 2001’s Many More Roads (Fractal Ent/Reggae Vibes) which was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album; and Radio (Vox), from 2007, which has more of a hip hop feel than his previous albums and reached #1 on the Billboard reggae album charts.
Ky-Mani has previously collaborated with R&B and reggae songstresses (Mya, Marcia Griffiths, Tessanne Chin), dancehall giants (Beenie Man, Buju Banton, Mr. Vegas, Alborosie) and hip hop talents (Young Buck, Afu-Ra, Ms. Dynamite).
In 2007, he was the opening act for Van Halen’s North American Tour. He’s also headlined clubs and performed on festivals around the world, from The Netherlands and Hungary to Brazil and Mexico to Cape Verde and Kenya. In recent years, Ky-Mani has headlined Reggae on the Rocks in Colorado, St. Kitts Music Festival, Festival International De Rhythmes Du Monde in Quebec, Rock al Parque in Colombia, and World Festival of Black Arts & Cultures in Senegal.
Ky-Mani’s autobiography, Dear Dad, was released on February 6, 2010, what would have been Bob Marley’s 65th birthday. Dear Dad, which is distributed in five languages, was written with the assistance Dr. Farrah Gray, the influential African-American empowerment guru.
Ky-Mani is in the midst of recording his upcoming album, Evolution of a Revolution at Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston, Jamaica. This marks the first time that he has worked at the world-renowned studios founded by his father in 1965. Known for his unique style of rock/soul/hip-hop infused reggae sound that transcends cultural lines, Evolution of a Revolution is expected to continue the musical exploration and features collaborations with artists from different musical genres.
In another first, Ky-Mani joined forces with Andrew Tosh for a very special collaboration. The offspring of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh are featured together on “Lessons In My Life,” the lead single off Andrew’s Grammy Award nominated acoustic tribute album to his father, Legacy. Ky-Mani is also featured on reggae singer Protoje’s single, “Rasta Love.” Produced by Donovan “Don Corleone” Bennett, “Rasta Love” is a powerful, conscious dancehall-meets-lover’s rock combination and will be included on Protoje’s upcoming album The 7 Year Itch.
Ky-Mani has starred in several films, including: Shottas with Paul Campbell, Spragga Benz and Wyclef Jean in 2002 (about organized crime in Kingston and Miami); One Love with singer Cherine Anderson in 2003 (a love story about a Rasta musician who meets a gospel singer when they both enter a music contest in Kingston); and as singer John the Baptist in 2004’s Haven, starring Bill Paxton and Orlando Bloom (a love story-cum-underworld revenge drama set on a exotic island). Ky-Mani is now ready to take on his next acting challenges.
His television credits include: Living the Life of Marley on BET J; NBC/Telemundo’s The Shuffle; FOX Business’s Happy Hour with Cody Willard and Rebecca Gomez; plus Music Choice, MTV Jams and VH1 Soul, to name a few.
With a new energy and revitalized spirit, the future is promising for Ky-Mani. In 2009, he started the charitable Love Over All Foundation which caters to empowering and educating the youth. LOAF also focuses on restoring values, rebuilding schools and supplying the basic necessities for the classrooms as well as the community in his hometown of Falmouth, Jamaica.
Staying true to his humanitarian vision, Ky-Mani was recently the featured talent at special fundraising events at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum in New York, the 1st Annual Beat Breast Cancer Music Festival in Trinidad and Tobago which was televised throughout the English speaking Caribbean, and is a regular supporter of the United Nation’s human rights efforts. Ky-Mani along with Julian Lennon were jointly named Philanthropist of the Year by Prince Albert II of the Monaco Foundation, Better World Awards.
Ky-Mani is starting a clothing line called Konfrontation.