Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley was born on July 21, 1978, in Kingston, Jamaica to reggae legend Bob Marley and 1976 Miss World, Cindy Breakspeare. Singer, songwriter, producer. Only two years old when his father, reggae legend Bob Marley died, Damian Marley has explored his musical roots to become of today’s hottest performers. He is nicknamed “Jr. Gong,” which comes from his father who was known as “Tuff Gong.”
Marley started his own journey in the music business at an early age. As a teenager, he performed with the Shepherds, which also included other reggae progeny, Shiah Coore whose father is Cat Coore of Third World and Yashema McGregor whose mother is Judy Mowatt of the I-Threes. While the band had some success in Jamaica, Marley eventually decided to strike out on his own. He worked with his older brother Stephen on his first album, Mr. Marley (1996). The two co-wrote many of the album’s tracks together.
With Stephen producing much of his next effort, Halfway Tree (2001) brought Damian more critical praise and attention for combining dancehall and hip-hop styles. The recording won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album with both Damian and Stephen taking home awards for the project.
Damian’s real commercial breakthrough came from the single “Welcome to Jamrock” released in 2004 by Tuff Gong. Tuff Gong is an independent record label started by Bob Marley in the mid-1960s and is still in the control of the Marley family. Set to a mesmerizing rhythm, the track explored the real-life hardship and political strife facing the people of Jamaica.
Working with Stephen as a co-producer, Damian put out his biggest album to date. Welcome to Jamrock (2005) incorporated elements of reggae, hip-hop, and R&B, and it reached the top of the charts. It reached as high as the number 7 spot on Billboard Top 200 Albums. The title track earned Damian another Grammy Award – this time for Best Urban/Alternative Performance. For the second time in four years, Damian and Stephen won the Grammy for the Best Reggae Album.
Damian is working on his next album, Stony Hill, to be released Spring 2017.