An as-usually well-dressed Orville "Shaggy" Burrell commands the glare of everyone in the Staples Center. In his hands, clinched between his fingers, he held the key to breaking this hypnosis – the envelope containing the winner of the final award of the night. The 55th Annual Grammy's has thus far been an entertaining spectacle of sights and sounds from the Rihanna, Sting, and Bruno Mars's collaborative performance to Alicia Keys leaving everyone in awe, but at this moment only an unbearable anticipation was shared throughout the venue. Shaggy finally speaks into the microphone with his amplified voice vibrating the arena's speakers.
"And the Grammy for Album of the Year goes to…," he begins, the tearing of the tightly sealed envelope echoes throughout the venue. He reads it with eyes widespread and tickled with crazed enthusiasm. He final shouted…"Never leaving your Side!!! Bob Marley!!!"
The arena comes to life with a standing ovation engaged with a raging round of applause. A disbelieved Bob remains seated, shaking his head while revealing his unmatched smile. With flashes of gray racing through his locks, he is encouraged by those around him to go claim his award as Shaggy beckons from the stage. "Hurry up here man!" he shouts into the microphone. Earlier in the night Bob won Song of the Year for his comeback single 'Miss me Now', an emotionally charged, auto-biographical tale produced by himself and sons Damian 'Jr. Gong' Marley and Stephen Marley. Burdened by his racing thoughts, Bob doesn't move for a minute. He was yet to speak a word publicly since awaking from his 3 decade-long coma, one the media frequently detailed he may never come out of. No one outside of his personal circle has heard him utter the slightest whisper – apart from the singles on the album. Now everyone was rabid, foaming a bit at the mouth to hear what Bob will say once he finally breaks his silence.
His wife, Rita, leans in and whispers something in his ear. "We've all been waiting years for this magical moment," she exhales warmly as Bob finally gets to his feet, intensifying the applause.
He turns to his son, Damian 'Jr. Gong' Marley, standing to his right congratulating his father with a hug. Bob turns to his left where his wife awaits. Their lips meet for a brief moment. He pulls from her, quick enough to catch her tears with his thumbs. She smiles as she hands him his walking cane and runs her hands through his locks. Straightening his coat he glides towards the stage. The Staples Center is now fully engulfed by ovation with a bellowing sound from the audience. It seems as though they're pushing him up the stage vocally, making it impossible from him to turn back if he wanted to.
He is greeted at the top by a young lady wearing a shimmery silver full length lace dress. She hands Bob his Grammy award and kisses him on the cheek. She then gestures in the direction of the microphone where Shaggy stands waiting. As Bob approaches Shaggy he's greeted by a brotherly embrace. "Well…they're waiting," Shaggy mentions as he steps away allowing Bob to approach the mic. The audience conveys their approval with an inflamed volume of cheers. Bob scouts the room at a turtle pace, absorbing who stands before him. Slowly the wailing and chorus-like clapping began to cave in, yet everyone remained standing. The room once again echoes a deafening silence. All eyes hooked on Bob.
"I…" he begins, speaking softly into the device. "I first want to thank…" Just then an anonymous person in the audience shouts out, "JAH…RASTAFARI!" "Well we cyaa be ungrateful to Jah," he chuckled sending the audience in approving cheers. Bob lifts the Grammy award eyelevel and smiles. A single tear scrolls down his cheek, resting on his lips as he finally begins to deliver his acceptance speech.
"First I have to thank and honor my beautiful wife, my powerful empress and queen Rita Marley. To sleep is not to dream…to sleep is to leave her touch for a few hours…and I can say I've missed her mystical touch. I was gone…nothing more than a lifeless burden. She could have let me go, let the doctors do whatever to end my suffering…her suffering. But she didn't. She knew I'd come out! And for THAT…I appreciate her more than even I could put into words! But the best way to put it is…I love you." The audience applauds.
"Now yuh see there's a war going on…death is trying to take life but life is stronger than death… I basically died that night but life is the road yuh nuh?! Now dig dis…I want to thank all my children for just holding down the Marley name and doing what was did with my music to maintain my legacy. I want to thank all the DJs who refused to let my words go unheard. And to all the new artistes who've been trying to get new verses with me and I didn't respond…Don't feel offended, it wasn't about you, it was about the music dread! I was waiting for my heart to lead me back to the booth, not an invite or a club anthem, and certainly not somebody who's just hot right now!" The audience bursts out in a thunderous roar of approval.
"I was sleeping for 30 years and my records were still selling. I didn't have to change with the times because what I did, what WE did as Reggae artistes before I went in a coma, was timeless. Apparently, I did the same thing with Miss me Now. I man can play music and I man don't fear fa di worse so I man play music and if money can mek outta music mek money come! Is not like my heart directly open a bleed blood fi get money for the ting is Selassie I is the King of Kings pon earth, now which guy pon earth rich like the King of Kings?"
"And finally to the fans… Thank you for supporting me, for getting me here and staying down with me. Thank you for all the cards and all the prayers. You brought me back and just be still and know that His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia is the Almighty… I could not have done none of dis without you! None of us artistes can live, literally or professionally, without your acceptance. So this award, and this album, is for you! I love you! Thank you!"
The Staples Center again fills with momentous applause as Bob hoists his Grammy in the air above his head for all to see.
Death can be emancipation; sometimes it allows us to see the enormity, and prevents our giants from depreciating before our eyes. With Bob, we get to appreciate the good, and ponder what might have been. He's alive, and thanks to his music, he always will be…
REST IN PEACE, BOB!