On June 3, 2021, Ziggy Marley, the eldest son of Bob and Rita Marley and an eight-time Grammy-winning musician, was recognized by Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York, with an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree. Marley, who is also a record producer and humanitarian activist, was one of 2,662 students in the college’s undergraduate and honorary doctoral degrees impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. They were presented with their degrees in a joint online commencement ceremony that honored the classes of 2020 and 2021 during the institution’s historic 51st year in operation.
The online commencement ceremony additionally awarded honorary degrees to individuals who have been examples of the college’s shared principles of professional excellence and personal success throughout their lives. The college also conferred honorary degrees to those whose achievements reflect its mission of social and economic justice and commitment to service.
Ziggy Marley’s career spans 40 years in which he has proved himself to be a musical pioneer, who has infused the reggae music genre with blues, rock, funk, and other elements. Marley works as an independent artist and has ownership of his own master recordings and the publishing rights to his own materials.
In addition to his stellar career in music, Ziggy Marley has served in the role of goodwill youth ambassadors for the United Nations and is an active participant in the initiatives of the Bob Marley Foundation around the world. Marley is the founder of his own charity, URGE (Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment). URGE is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to build new schools, operate health clinics, and support various beneficiaries, including the One Love Youth Camp, Chepstowe Basic School in Jamaica, and HOLA (Heart of Los Angeles).
Ziggy Marley is the recipient of the prestigious Global Icon Achievement Award from the Black Press of America and the George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement. He is the first reggae artist to receive this award in the 30-plus years since its initial presentation.
Born David Nesta Marley in October of 1968, Ziggy Marley headed the family band known as the Melody Makers with his siblings Sharon, Cedella, and Stephen, which recorded eight studio albums. He has also released several solo albums, winning eight Grammys and one Daytime Emmy Award. While some believe his nickname “Ziggy” was given to him by his father, Ziggy told Melody Maker magazine in 1988 that he started calling himself “Ziggy” because of David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” album.
Ziggy Marley attended St. George’s College all-male, Roman Catholic high school in Kingston, Jamaica.