Marley, Rita 1947-

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MARLEY, Rita 1947-


Born Alpharita Constantia Anderson, 1947, in Cuba; married Bob Marley (a musician), 1966 (deceased, 1981); children: David (Ziggy), Cedella, Stephen, Stephanie, Sharon, Serita. Religion: Rastafarian.


Home—Kingston, Jamaica. Office—Rita Marley Music, c/o Lorna Wainwright, 220 Marcus Garvey Drive, Kingston 11, Jamaica W.1. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Hyperion Editorial Department, 77 West 66th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10023.


Singer, reggae musician, curator, movie and record producer, and author. Began performing mid-1960s; joined trio the Soulettes, produced husband, Bob Marley's recordings, performed as part of Marley's back-up singers the I-Threes, 1970s. Curator, Bob Marley Museum, Kingston, Jamaica. Solo recordings include Who Feels It Knows It, 1981, Harambe, 1983, and We Must Carry On, 1990, all released by Shanachie Records. Also performed on recordings Legalize It, Columbia, 1976; Club Ska '67, Mango, c. 1980; Music for the Word; Many Are Called, I-Three, Shanachie Records, 1983; Ho-Ho-Kus, Shanachie Records, 1985; Beginning, EMI America, 1986; By the Rivers of Babylon: Timeless Hymns of the Rastafari, Shanachie Records, 1997; and Sings Bob Marley—and Friends, Shanachie Records, 2003. Founder, Rita Marley Foundation.


Bob Marley: Légende Rasta, Seuil (Paris, France), 1995.

(With Hettie Jones) No Woman, No Cry: My Life with Bob Marley, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.

Executive editor, Adrian Boot and Chris Saliewzik, Bob Marley: Songs of Freedom (biography), Viking Studio Books (New York, NY), 1995.


Rita Marley, widow of legendary reggae musician Bob Marley, has had an extensive career as a singer, producer, and guardian of her late husband's estate and musical legacy. Often called the "Queen of Reggae," Marley was born in Cuba as Alpharita Constantia Anderson. She married Marley in 1966 and was a member of his back-up singing group the I-Threes. After her husband's death in 1981, Marley continued to perform, releasing solo albums and contributing to other recording artists' works. Her memoir, No Woman, No Cry: My Life with Bob Marley, was released in 2001 and written with Hettie Jones. Writing in the Rolling Stone, Gaylord Fields commented, "She candidly and patiently delineates her role as the life and singing partner … of reggae's standard-bearer and greatest musical force while showing that her time with Bob … is but one face, however, crucial, of her story."

Marley's story includes growing up poor and living as a single, teenage mother in Trench Town, a ghetto of Kingston, Jamaica, where prostitutes, thieves, killers, and many other unsavory characters lived. She originally intended to go to nursing school, but ended up as a singer with the vocal trio the Soulettes. After meeting and marrying Bob Marley, she went on to experience, as Kelefa Sanneh described in the NewYork Times Book Review, a "marriage full of breaks and partings," including battles over other women. In her memoir, Marley recounts many aspects of her life alone and with her husband, including an assault on the two that almost killed them, her involvement in the Rastafarian religious movement, and the evolution of her relationship with her husband as more confidant, friend, and business partner than wife.

In the New York Times Book Review, Sanneh commented that Marley's life "has been, in large part, a life defined by the stoicism that survival often requires—lots of details are missing, to be sure, but she herself is still here." A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the "book makes an important contribution to our understanding of Marley and Jamaican music in general." Bill Walker, writing in Library Journal, thought that Marley's lack of attention to her husband's "music and the mythmaking of the media" makes the book most interesting "to only the most ardent Marley fans." A contributor writing in Kirkus Reviews called the book "tart, self-assured, and lasting," noting, "Marley doesn't mince her words." And Mike Tribby wrote in Booklist that he found Marley to be "a strong woman whose angle on [Bob Marley] is fresh and authoritative."



Contemporary Musicians, Volume 10, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1993.

Henderson, Ashyia, editor, Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 32, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2002.

Marley, Rita, and Hettie Jones, No Woman, No Cry: My Life with Bob Marley, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.


Black Book Review, April 30, 2004, Jetola Anderson-Blair, review of No Woman, No Cry: My Life with Bob Marley, p. 12.

Booklist, March 1, 2004, Mike Tribby, review of No Woman, No Cry, p. 1129.

Entertainment Weekly, May 7, 2004, Bob Cannon, review of No Woman, No Cry, p. 92.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2004, review of No Woman, No Cry, p. 119.

Library Journal, March 1, 2004, Bill Walker, review of No Woman, No Cry, p. 81.

New York Times Book Review, May 2, 2004, Kelefa Sanneh, review of No Woman, No Cry, p. 27.

Publishers Weekly, February 16, 2004, review of No Woman, No Cry, p. 162.

Rolling Stone, June 10, 2004, Gaylord Fields, review of No Woman, No Cry, p. 99.*

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Marley, Rita 1947-

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