The Wailers Carry On Bob Marley's Legacy

The Wailers have sold more than 250 million albums. As they celebrate the 30th anniversary of their iconic album Legend, the group shares what it's like to carry on Bob Marley's legacy.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

If you are a fan of reggae - and you know what? - even if you aren't, then you certainly know Bob Marley and the Wailers.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IS THIS LOVE")

BOB MARLEY AND THE WAILERS: (Singing) I want to love you and treat you right. I want to love you, every day and every night. We'll be together.

MARTIN: That was "Is This Love." It is from "Legend," the album released after Bob Marley's untimely death. Time magazine named it the best album of the 20th century, and it is still the standard by which reggae music is defined for millions around the world. Now the Wailers are celebrating the 30th anniversary of that iconic album. The group is touring the U.S. now, and they were kind enough to stop by our studios in Washington, D.C., for a special conversation and in-studio performance. Welcome. Thank you all so much for joining us. Thank you for coming.

DWAYNE ANGLIN: Thanks for the invitation.

MARTIN: I understand that - Dwayne "Danglin" Anglin on lead vocals, and you are going to introduce everybody with the - will you introduce every for us, please?

ANGLIN: Oh, sure. First and foremost, background vocalist, Ms. Cegee Victory.

CEGEE VICTORY: Hello.

ANGLIN: Our guitarist, lead guitarist, Mr. Audley Chisolm. And on lead with myself, Mr. Kevin Davy.

MARTIN: All right.

ANGLIN: Otherwise known as Yvad.

MARTIN: Yvad. All right, welcome. Thank you all. And I think somebody's missing here. Mr. Barret is missing.

ANGLIN: Yeah.

MARTIN: He's on tour with you. He's not - he doesn't happen to be here, you know, at the moment. You know, to that point, though, people have come and gone from the Wailers since their inception in 1969, and you joined in 2010. Do I have that right?

ANGLIN: Yes.

MARTIN: And you are actually a Navy veteran. Do I have that right?

ANGLIN: Yes.

MARTIN: With a masters degree in criminology. It's kind of a different background. I'm just interested in what drew you...

ANGLIN: Yeah.

MARTIN: ...To this phase of your life.

ANGLIN: Music - I mean, I've always loved Bob Marley and the Wailers in particular. I mean, growing up in Jamaica, that's kind of like - you know, it's inborn because radio is a big part of Jamaica. And most places, people only listen to the radio on their commute to work or at work. In Jamaica, you listen to the radio at home. It's one of the only places that really does that, so. And every day you hear Bob Marley and the Wailers on the radio. Even to this day, every radio station plays at least one or two.

So, you know, it's a part of me, and so I started doing music very late. I think it was as a rebellion of being in the military. Being on a ship 90 days at a time, you need something. And that was the thing, my outlet. You know, through God's blessings, I'm singing with the Wailers now. So, I mean, that's not a mistake. That has to be something that was predestined. Now I see exactly what he means to people, his music and the Wailers' music. And it's more of an honor and a privilege now than it was before.

MARTIN: Let's play something, and then we'll talk some more, OK? What do you want to play first? I think you are going to do "One Love"?

ANGLIN: Yeah.

MARTIN: All right, let's hear it. Thank you.

THE WAILERS: (Singing) One love, one heart, let's get together and feel all right. Hear the children crying - one love. Hear the children dying - one heart. We give thanks and praise to the Lord, and I will feel all right. Singing, let's get together and feel all right.

Let them all pass all their dirty remarks - one love. There is one question I'd really love to answer - one heart. Is there a place for that hopeless sinner who has hurt all mankind just to save his own beliefs?

One love. What about the one? One heart. What about let's get together and feel all right. As it was in the beginning - one love - so shall it be in the end - one heart. All right, give thanks and praise to the Lord, and I will feel all right. Singing, let's get together and feel all right.

Let's get together to fight the Holy Armagiddyon - one love. So when the man comes, there will be no, no doom - one heart. Have pity on those whose chances grows thinner. There ain't no hiding place from the Father of creation. Singing, one love - what about the one heart? One heart. What about let's get together and feel all right. Hear the children crying - one love. Hear the children crying - one heart. We give thanks and praise to the Lord, and I will feel all right.

Singing, let's get together and feel all right. We give thanks and praise to Lord, and I will feel right. Singing, let's get together and feel all right. We give thanks and praise to the Lord, and I will feel all right.

MARTIN: If you're just joining us, we are having a special performance and in-studio conversation with the iconic reggae group the Wailers. They're on tour in the U.S. right now and celebrating the 30th anniversary of their album, "Legend."

I had the opportunity to interview a former prime minister of Jamaica who explained that this song was first performed in the middle of a lot of election violence. And it was, in part, a message of, let's stop all this. And I was just wondering about what - when you perform the song, what do you want people to draw from it? Yvad, do you want to speak on this?

YVAD DAVY: The song "One Love" is talking to the people of the world, you know, telling them to get together. No more war, only peace. Love is the solution. They're at crisis. The things that we go through here, we need that perfect one love. It's a very lively song. It's a party song. It's a happy song. It's a song that just takes you out of your lower vibration and bring you up (laughing), lift you up, you know what I mean? So it's for every vibe, every situation.

MARTIN: Dwayne, what about you?

ANGLIN: The whole theme of "One Love" is - is just bringing, you know - I love when people don't understand that, regardless of your background or your race, we are all one people. There is no separation between black or white, Asian or Indian or Latino. We're all just people. But we sing music for people. So the people who need it the most is the people who are hearing it, not the people that are singing it. So it is your song, not the Wailers' song.

MARTIN: Interesting. To that end, I wanted to ask if you would play another song, "Redemption Song"? I would love to hear that. Is that good?

THE WAILERS: (Singing) Old pirates, yes, they rob I, sold I to the merchant ships, minutes after they took I from the bottomless pit. But my hands was made strong by the hand of the Almighty, we forward in this generation, triumphantly. Won't you help to sing these songs of freedom? 'Cause all I ever have, redemption songs. Redemption songs.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds. Have no fear for atomic energy, 'cause none of them can stop the time. How long shall they kill our prophets, while we stand aside and look? Some say it's just a part of it. We got to fulfill the book. Won't you help to sing another song of freedom? 'Cause all I ever have, redemption songs. Redemption songs. Redemption songs. The songs of freedom, yeah. Redemption songs.

MARTIN: Forgive me. I hope you don't my mentioning that all of you are young.

ANGLIN: Yeah

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: You are young. You are not of Mr. Marley's era, right? He would be an elder now, had he stayed with us. You know, some people, when they embrace the work of an earlier era, they feel in a way that they're ambassadors of that work to the next generation. Yvad, what do you think?

DAVY: The work is already done, and I think that the work is very prophetic. It will always be here with us to guide us and to show us the way.

MARTIN: What's next for you? Or what would you want us to be thinking about as we bid farewell, for now?

DAVY: The whole theme of this music is about positive vibrations because if you can get people to think in a positive way, there can be no negative.

ANGLIN: One love, you know?

DAVY: Yeah. So I think the legacy of the music would mean nothing if people didn't understand what positive vibrations mean. You understand, positive vibrations is about giving thanks and understanding that everybody in this world belongs there. On any tour, on any given year, that is our theme.

MARTIN: Well, thank you all for coming. Thank you so much. I think that you are going to go out on a song that, I think, everybody knows, even if they don't know the title. I didn't actually know the title of it. I knew the song, but I didn't know the title until you all were coming. Isn't that funny?

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: It's "Three Little Birds," and we have been visiting with the Wailers. And they were kind enough to take a break on their U.S. tour to come and see us here in our studio in Washington, D.C. Thank you all so much for coming. And I think we are going to hear "Three Little Birds." And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.

THE WAILERS: (Singing) Don't worry about a thing 'cause every little thing is going to be all right. Singing, don't worry about a thing. Don't you worry 'cause every little thing is going to be all right.

Rise up this morning, smile with the rising sun. Three little birds, each by my doorstep. Singing sweet songs of melodies pure and true. Singing, this is my message to you.

Singing don't worry about a thing 'cause every little thing is going to be all right. We singing don't worry about a thing. Don't you worry 'cause every little thing is going to be all right.

I rise up this morning, smile with the rising sun. Three little birds, each by my doorstep. Singing sweet songs, of melodies pure and true...

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