Ziggy Marley has his eyes set on helping to eradicate polio, a viral disease that continues to disable children under the age of five in Asia and Africa. The revered reggae star has donated his latest song “Personal Revolution” to End Polio Now, a benefit album raising funds for Rotary International’s “This Close to Ending Polio” campaign. He briefly spoke with ESSENCE.com about his work as a polio ambassador, his forthcoming album (out January 15), and how he’s celebrating Jamaica’s 50th anniversary.
ESSENCE.com: You recently teamed up with Rotary International’s “This Close to Ending Polio” campaign in support of the final push to end polio. What was your motivation?
Ziggy Marley: [Rotary] is a good organization. They’re trying to help people, especially in Africa. That’s a place that is very close to my heart. There are a lot of children suffering with polio there. I wanted to help.
ESSENCE.com: You donated the song “Personal Revolution” to the Rotary’s benefit CD to raise funds. What’s the song about?
Marley: It’s a song where I speak of revolution in a different light. You know, when we talk about revolution we think about social and political, we don’t think about individuals. So “Personal Revolution” is an individual thing that each of us need to consider to make changes in our lives so things can get better.
ESSENCE.com: Have you ever known anyone affected by polio?
Marley: One of my sisters friends had it when we were growing up in Jamaica. That was way back, but that’s when I first heard about it.
ESSENCE.com: With all the advances we’ve amde in medicine, are you surprised that so many children still suffer from polio?
Marley: When it comes to Africa, I just think the leaders need to get it together. If the countries were united we wouldn’t have this problem. I think the priorities are not right in terms of the leadership. Hopefully in the next generation we’ll have a better situation so we can help solve this.
ESSENCE.com: You’ve also got a new album also released a new live album called Ziggy Marley in Concert.
Marley: The band and I were feeling good lately and I wanted to share it. We recorded it in two cities here in the States. It wasn’t even a big production—nowadays we have a laptop and we recorded it. I just wanted to share.
ESSENCE.com: Jamaica is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year. Your family is such an integral part of the country’s history. How are you celebrating?
Marley: I’m celebrating by thinking about what more I can do to help. I’m always thinking and wishing I could do more. Everything is connected. I start with the music, and hopefully the future will bring more possibilities. The celebration for me is thinking about what it will really take for Jamaica to transcend to the next level.
Watch Ziggy Marley perform his song “Personal Revolution” from the “End Polio Now” campaign.