Rita Marley, the matriarch of the Marley family, is rarely seen in public these days ever since she suffered a stroke in 2016. Last weekend she showed out at the annual International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMAs), and she enjoyed the event. At one point she was seen grooving to Beenie Man music as the dancehall legend performed some of his classic hits. The Jamaican music icon smiled as she waved her left hand to the beat of the rhythm.
Rita Marley was instrumental in the formation of the IRAWMA awards in 1982, a year after Bob Marley died at the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Miami, Florida. The 37th staging of IRAWMA was held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston on Saturday, May 11. A wheelchair-bound Rita Marley was the center of attention as the show tribute her with two awards. IRAWMA founder Ephraim Martin told the audience that Rita was instrumental in the formation of the awards show that recognized reggae music.
Rita Marley enjoyed music from the likes of The Heptones, Top One Frisson from the Congo, and U-Roy. However, it was Beenie Man who got the best response from her. Several other local celebrities greeted her and posed for photo ops as she was warm and welcoming to all of them.
Earlier this year, Rita Marley made her first public appearance in Jamaica since her stroke in 2016 when she joined her musical sisters Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt on stage at the 2019 Jamaica Reggae Industry Association awards.
Rita Marley was awarded the Reggae50 – Pioneer Award of Honour.