Bob Marley, who would have celebrated his 79th birthday today (February 6), didn’t just leave a musical legacy; he built a dynasty. His children, carrying the torch he ignited, have infused their own unique styles into the Marley sound, creating a rich musical heritage that has been frequently recognized by the Recording Academy.
Now, with Julian Marley‘s 2024 win, the Marley family’s Grammy count has climbed to a total of 28 individual wins (collectively 17 category wins). This includes 15 of the 40 Grammys for ‘Best Reggae Album’ awarded since the category’s inception in 1985, solidifying their place as one of music’s most decorated families.
With the most individual wins among his siblings, Ziggy Marley boasts seven Grammy Awards for ‘Best Reggae Album,’ four as a solo artist and three alongside The Melody Makers, which included Sharon, Cedella, and Stephen. He also has one win for ‘Best Musical Album For Children,’ bringing his total to 8.
Five golden gramophones grace Damian ‘Jr Gong’ Marley‘s shelf, including three recognizing his solo albums in the ‘Best Reggae Album’ category. His executive producer credit on Kabaka Pyramid‘s The Kalling landed him another. He also took home the ‘Best Urban/Alternative Performance’ award for the iconic song, Welcome To Jamrock.
Stephen Marley has the most Grammy Awards for ‘Best Reggae Album,’ including three as a solo artist. He also won the category twice as producer of younger brother Damian Marley’s Halfway Tree and Welcome to Jamrock albums, and a further three times as a member of The Melody Makers, bringing his total to 8.
On Sunday, Julian and producer Antaeus’ Colors of Royal emerged as the winner in the Reggae category against Beenie Man’s Simma, Buju Banton’s Born For Greatness, Burning Spear’s No Destroyer, and Collie Buddz’s Cali Roots Riddim 2023.
“It definitely wasn’t a surprise to me, I wasn’t surprised,” Dancehall artist QQ told DancehallMag following the announcement. “The Marley name holds so much weight in the Reggae industry and you know what the Grammy tends to look for.”
“There is this saying in the industry that if you get nominated you want to get nominated in a year when the Marleys are not in it,” QQ joked. “But they have done their work and their father’s legacy holds a lot of weight so it does do a lot not to say that Julian’s album is anything short of great but having the Marley also does boost you so definitely congrats to him.”
QQ added: “It’s going to be hard for the Marley Grammy award legacy to be broken anytime soon because when people think Reggae they think Bob Marley first and foremost because of the global impact that he had and many of the voters vote with their conscience and they are humans too and some of them will say Bob did so much so I want to honour him and his legacy.”
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange told DancehallMag that Julian Marley and Antaeus’ project was deserving of the coveted award.
“The Academy and the public made their choice. Julian Marley and Alex Antaeus’ Colors of Royal is hard hitting and topical and deserving of the Grammy,” Grange said. “It comes on the heels of the premiere of Bob’s One Love biopic in Jamaica and across several major international cities. Congratulations to Julian and Alexx on this win.”
Music insider and producer Sean ‘Contractor’ Edwards pointed out that all the nominees had a shot at the award.
“All nominees have a realistic chance that’s why they are nominated. They all have a fan base of Grammy. Voters and a credible body of work,” Edwards said. “What sets them apart obviously is their Marley sound and they uphold the Marley brand by having their own band and creating their own music.”
Edwards added that he had witnessed Julian Marley’s dedication and commitment to his craft firsthand, so he wasn’t surprised that he won the award as it was earned by merit despite his surname.
“I’ve worked with Julian Marley and been to his house and concerts in London, I’ve been in the dressing room with him and seen his work ethic and musical showmanship. I’m not surprised he won this award as we have seen his growth and development to become a global reggae ambassador,” he said.
Edwards also argued that the Marleys are not always victorious on music’s biggest night, but they’re in a position for continued dominance for years to come. “The Marleys have lost seven times in the Grammys but they are several Marleys doing solo album projects and this increases the chances of Marleys winning at the Grammys for generations to come.”
According to Lloyd Laing—conceptualizer of CertifiedStreams and music director at Edge 105 FM—Julian’s victory proved that authentic Reggae by Jamaican musicians will always dominate.
“It shows that Jamaican music can push the borders of its stereotypical restraints and deliver music that expands the soundscape of the genre. Over the last 20 years, we have birthed Reggae fusion, and tropical house; cross pollinated with high life and inspired a cornucopia of singles that are influenced by Dancehall,” he told DancehallMag. “But, keep in mind [that] it’s mostly big beat Dancehall that dominated that trend.”
Julian’s first win on Sunday came on his third nomination in the Reggae category.
Ziggy and Stephen Marley, who have won 8 times each, have racked up 15 and 11 nominations, respectively.
Rita Marley and her grandson Skip Marley have both earned two Grammy nominations each but have yet to win the award.
Ky-Mani Marley holds one nomination without a win.