30 Fans Joyously Sing the Entirety of Bob Marley’s Legend Album in Unison

The thir­ty Bob Mar­ley super­fans who heed­ed artist Can­dice Bre­itz’s 2005 call to vis­it a Port Anto­nio, Jamaica record­ing stu­dio, to be filmed indi­vid­u­al­ly per­form­ing the entire­ty of Marley’s Leg­end album a capel­la, were not pro­pelled by show­biz dreams.

Rather, their par­tic­i­pa­tion was a way for them to con­nect with the beloved icon, in a man­ner as inti­mate as singing along in one’s teenaged bed­room.

They were giv­en no direc­tion as far as per­for­mance style or cos­tume, only that they stick with it for the dura­tion of the hour-long album, piped into their ears via dis­creet grey buds.

Some dart their eyes appre­hen­sive­ly, bare­ly mov­ing.

Oth­ers bob and weave with unbri­dled aban­don.

One man shucks his cap when dread­locks are men­tioned in “Buf­fa­lo Sol­dier.”

A young woman gri­maces and shrugs apolo­get­i­cal­ly as the final track’s many “jammin’s” get away from her.

Some nod and widen their eyes at per­son­al­ly sig­nif­i­cant lines, point­ing for empha­sis, as if to tell view­ers less famil­iar with Marley’s work to lis­ten up, because here­in the mes­sage lies.

In between songs, they sip from plas­tic bot­tles of water and soda, occa­sion­al­ly offer­ing impromp­tu com­men­tary (“I feel this one!”). The grey-beard­ed gent mops his brow.

Once these solos were in the can, Bre­itz arranged them into a choir, stacked Brady Bunch-style, six across, five down.

Every­one starts at the same moment, but with no instruc­tion as to how to approach back­ing vocals and the word­less aspects of Marley’s per­for­mance, inad­ver­tent soloists emerge, some­times as the result of a jumped gun.

(You try singing “I Shot the Sher­iff” with no karaoke prompts guid­ing you…)

Bre­itz, who has since cre­at­ed sim­i­lar work with Michael Jack­sonJohn LennonMadon­na, and Leonard Cohen fans, took pains to make sure the par­tic­i­pants left the stu­dio feel­ing good about the expe­ri­ence. It’s not a TV tal­ent con­test.

While cer­tain squares con­tain star qual­i­ty charis­ma, all thir­ty were nec­es­sary to achieve the goal of a com­pos­ite por­trait that eschews the “overt­ly icon­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tion” of the sub­ject as “some kind of fixed, unchang­ing enti­ty.”

As art crit­ic Christy Lange observed in con­junc­tion with an inter­view with Bre­itz for Mod­ern Painters:

While Mar­ley, Madon­na and Jack­son may play a lop­sid­ed­ly cen­tral role in shap­ing their fans’ lives and iden­ti­ties, these fans play a rec­i­p­ro­cal part in res­ur­rect­ing the stars’ orig­i­nal appeal, which has been sub­sumed by the celebri­ty cul­ture that cre­at­ed them. The cul­ture of star­dom may thrive on a series of cheap imi­ta­tions, mim­ic­k­ing an elu­sive idea of ‘celebri­ty’, but even in this con­cate­na­tion of sim­u­lat­ed iden­ti­ties, a few authen­tic por­traits can still be dis­cov­ered.

Listen—and sing along—to Bob Marley’s Leg­end in its entire­ty on Spo­ti­fy.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Bob Marley’s “Redemp­tion Song” Played by Musi­cians Around the World

John­ny Cash & Joe Strum­mer Sing Bob Marley’s “Redemp­tion Song” (2002)

Watch a Young Bob Mar­ley and The Wail­ers Per­form Live in Eng­land (1973): For His 70th Birth­day Today

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Join her in NYC tonight, Sep­tem­ber 9, for the sea­son kick-off of her book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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Comments (3)
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  • ProphetZarquon says:

    Where was this arti­cle in 2005?
    What a great clip!
    Thanks Can­dice Bre­itz for this beau­ti­ful trib­ute, thanks Ayun for writ­ing this arti­cle, & thanks Bob for all the great music!

  • Wendy says:

    This was absolute­ly beau­ti­ful! Hear­ing the groups of people,melodic voic­es sung in per­fect harmony.Bob would have def­i­nite­ly loved this!!!
    Rest on Bob Marley.Your music lives on!!!

  • Space Cat says:

    Tru­ly made me smile…🤟🏻👽🤘🏻.….….….….….🛸

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