Rita Marley Expected To Grace Zimbabwe's Independence Celebrations

Major Anywhere Mutambudzi, the acting director of national communications in the Ministry of Information and Publicity, said plans were at advanced stage to bring Rita Marley for the Independence Celebration on April 18.

Rita was last in Zimbabwe when her late husband the legendary Bob Marley was invited to a freedom concert when the country attained its Independence in 1980. She was part of the backing vocals called the I-Three which backed Marley at the historical concert at Rufaro Stadium. She is expected to be accompanied by her son Ziggy Marley.

She was born Rita Anderson in Cuba and raised from an early age in Trenchtown. Rita has been a principal figure on the music scene for over 30 years, when the foundation of contemporary Jamaican music was formed, and has maintained a prominent role.

It was in the early sixties that her musical career began as a vocalist with the all-female singing group, The Soulettes, who have appeared with the Four Tops, Johnny Nash and numerous other stars. She would soon make the acquaintance of a local Trenchtown youth, Robert Nesta Marley, who was also answering a musical calling. Music became their bond.

Bob and Rita never turned back. By the early seventies, they developed the I-Three, Jamaica’s three leading female singers (Rita Marley, Judy Mowatt, Marcia Griffiths), to provide support harmonies for Bob Marley & the Wailers, who had become the first reggae act to garnish an international record contract.

Rita was ever-present throughout the stages of Bob’s career – the victories as well as the trials. She was beside Bob three days before the Smile Jamaica Concert 1976, when they were both wounded in an ambush at the rehearsal studio (56 Hope Road – now the Bob Marley Museum). Bob was shot in the arm and Rita was grazed by a bullet to the head. Risking their lives, both courageously appeared in concert, in spite of their injuries. She was on stage with Bob at the One Love Concert when, during one of his most dynamic and sensational performances, Bob symbolically joined the hands of Michael Manley and Edward Seaga (leaders of Jamaica’s opposing political parties), illuminating Rastafari as the true peacemakers of the island.

Bob Marley died in 1981 from cancer.