When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, Ziggy Marley found himself at home full-time with his kids and a new puppy. His four-year-old son’s intrusions into the studio inspired More Family Time, his 2020 children’s album, and the forthcoming picture books Music Is in Everything and My Dog Romeo (Akashic Books, May), adapted from the album’s songs.
In a January 23 session of ALA’s Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits Virtual, the eight-time Grammy winner joined publisher Johnny Temple of Akashic Books for a conversation about venturing into children’s music, producing an album remotely, and seeking refuge in books and libraries.
“I was a little bit conflicted about it, because a lot of things were happening: The Black Lives Matter movement was happening at the same time as the COVID thing, so my mind was on those things, until [my son] came and took my mind off that and put my mind on children’s music,” Marley said. “I felt like that was the right path to go down at this time, to balance the heaviness with something light for families and children.”
Creating music and stories for children was a welcome change of pace, Marley said: “It gives my imagination a chance to go places and try different things that I wouldn’t try if I was doing another project. When I do a children’s album, it’s a different mindset, but it doesn’t diminish the music, the effort and intensity. It’s a different feeling, another aspect of me that I enjoy exploring.”
Marley, who often played chess at the library as a teenager in Jamaica, called libraries “places of refuge, a place to get away from the noise. We can go deep within ourselves or within a story. It’s not just a place where you read a book; it’s a community.”