By Geoffrey Rowlands
Skip Marley would rather talk about football than music. The grandson of legendary Jamaican reggae star Bob Marley, Skip, like his late grandfather, is a football fanatic. He not only enjoys watching matches but loves to play the game.
“I’m a striker, the centre forward,” smiled the 20-year-old singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. “Football is like music to the Marley family. My uncle Steve (the six-time Grammy Award-winning musician, singer and producer Stephen Marley) has a full-size football field at his house so we play a lot of games on there.”
As with most of the Marley clan, Skip lives in Miami, Florida. But he was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and regards the island as his true home.
“I love Jamaica. The energy and good vibes I feel on my frequent visits are like a natural extension of who I am. One of my first stops when I’m back in Kingston is always a visit to my grandfather’s house at 56, Hope Road. It’s now The Bob Marley Museum and is a permanent reminder of my heritage.”
Skip is the son of Bob and Rita Marley’s daughter, Cedella. His full name is Skip Marley Minto. He wisely dropped his surname when choosing his stage moniker.
“My dad doesn’t have a problem with this. He’s been part of the Marley family for almost 25 years so he knows no slight on him is intended by my just using the name Skip Marley.”
Skip’s first name causes many more problems than his last.
“People assume Skip is a nickname. I’m often asked for my real first name. Skip was actually my grandfather’s nickname. Giving me the name was my mother’s way of naming me after him without calling me Robert or Bob.”
With music in his blood, Skip was eight when he taught himself to play piano. Guitar, drums and bass would later be mastered. He made his concert debut at 15 on tour with his uncle Stephen.
“One night, uncle Steve said I was going to sing. I’d never sung in front of an audience but he said I was ready and trusted me to do a good job. I only did the one song, One Love. I was just hoping to remember the lyrics. But once I got going, I loved it. This was my thing, it was definitely what I wanted to do.”
More performances with Marley family members would follow before Skip branched out on his own with the single, Cry To Me.
“That was back in 2015. I followed that song with another single, Life, which was also on a compilation album, The Reggae Power 2. Both tracks were popular without setting the world alight on the international market.”
2016 was notable for Skip’s appearance in a Gap 1969 Denim commercial. But no new music was heard from him until last month when he guested on Katy Perry’s smash hit, Chained To The Rhythm.
“Amongst many other things, my mother is a brilliant fashion designer. I get my interest in fashion through her. I’d never thought of being a fashion model but, when the opportunity came along, I grabbed it with both hands.
“I was surprised to find Katy Perry had even heard of me, let alone loved my songs. We co-wrote Chained To The Rhythm along with Sia (Furler) and the producers, Max Martin and Ali Payami. It’s a kind of disco and Jamaican dancehall hybrid. I don’t think it has reached number one anywhere yet but the song has gone top ten pretty much all over the world.
“We debuted Chained To The Rhythm during the recent Grammy Awards ceremony at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles. Performing the song with Katy was very special as was the amazing response from the audience.”
Skip has also released his own latest single, Lions. The video can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3A4QJfn4pw
“The reviews have been great and Katy even called me ‘the voice of our revolution’ in one of her Twitter posts. I hope these positive things plus all those people who got to know me through Chained To The Rhythm might culminate in my first Hot 100 solo hit.”
Stormzy’s self-released debut album, Gang Signs & Prayer, has become the first purely grime LP to top the UK chart. It took pole position after a neck and neck battle with the incumbent chart-topper, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man’s Human. The only other grime-influenced album to hit top spot was Tinie Tempah’s 2010 LP, Disc-Overy.
Stormzy, real name Michael Omari, benefitted from online streaming now counting towards the sales calculation. Gang Signs & Prayer achieved the highest total of first week streams for a number one in UK chart history.
He has also equalled a chart record held by Justin Bieber, Beyonce and The Weeknd. Every track from Gang Signs & Prayer has made the top 100 on the UK singles chart. Seven of the 16 songs are in the top 40.
He even has at least a finger in the pie of Ed Sheeran’s continuing singles number one, Shape of You. A remix of the song featuring Stormzy, which he and Ed performed at the recent BRIT Awards, has given sales of the track yet another boost.
American singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tori Kelly entered the Billboard 200 at number two with her 2015 debut album, Unbreakable Smile. But the 24-year-old California native has never enjoyed significant success on the Hot 100. Her highest-charting single was Should’ve Been Us which peaked at number 51.
She is attempting to find singles success again now with a song she performed as the voice of shy, stage fright-suffering teenage elephant Meena in the hugely successful 2016 animated comedy, Sing. The film features more than 60 classic songs, one of which is Meena’s version of Stevie Wonder’s 1974 hit, Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing.
It is Tori’s rendition of this track which she has released as her latest single. Apart from guest appearances on work by other artists, this is the first song Tori has issued which she did not write or co-write. The video is available to view at www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzPQ61oYMtQ
The always eagerly anticipated John Lewis Christmas television advertisement usually provides a publicity boost and hit single for any artist who appears on the music soundtrack. Many virtually unknown performers have enjoyed UK top ten success while Lily Allen achieved her third number one.
It didn’t happen in 2016. The ad, featuring Buster the boxer dog, was hugely popular. But the accompanying music, a cover by Vaults of Randy Crawford’s 1980 smash One Day I’ll Fly Away, did not propel the London-based trio to chart stardom. Although the track was much more successful than their previous singles, it stalled at number 53.
While Buster the boxer has generated more than 25 million views on YouTube, the Vaults official video for One Day I’ll Fly Away has registered just 271,000. It is posted at www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCoZOAn_98A
More videos, audio postings and live performances by the trio can be found at www.youtube.com/user/VaultsVEVO/videos
German alternative folk-rock trio Milky Chance release their second studio album, Blossom, on March 17. It is the highly anticipated follow-up to 2013’s Sadnecessary which peaked at number 17 on the Billboard 200 and number 36 in Britain.
Milky Chance were originally a duo made up of school friends Clemens Rehbein and Philipp Dausch. Sadnecessary was recorded in a simple, home-made studio at the Rehbein family house.
The boys gained a following by posting several songs online. Their single, Stolen Dance, proved enormously popular. It hit number one in ten countries and made the top ten in many more.
Wanting to expand the range of their sound, Clemens and Philipp recruited multi-instrumentalist Antonio Greger in 2015. The songs on Blossom are the first to feature Milky Chance as a trio.
Cocoon was the lead single from the new album. This was followed by Doing Good. Videos for both tracks are among the many postings at www.youtube.com/user/MilkysMusic/videos
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