Skip Marley— singer-songwriter and grandson of the legendary Bob Marley—debuted his song “Refugee” (Amplified Remix) as part of World Children’s Day celebrated with key UN officials with keynote remarks that included UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, David Beckham, who opened the humanitarian-focused portion of the day. It was Beckham who introduced Marley (Island Records), who performed with Syrian Rapper and refugee Damascus Voice (Amplified Records), as well as Amrit Kaur (Amplified Records). The performance was a new version of Marley’s international hit, “Refugee” (Amplified Remix) alongside 20 children from the Harlem Youth Choir.
World Children’s Day was first established in 1954 as Universal Children’s Day and is celebrated on 20 November each year to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare. November 20 is an important date as it is the date in 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Since 1990, World Children’s Day also marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the Declaration and the Convention on children’s rights. 2019 marks the 30th anniversary.
Marley wrote “Refugee” to highlight the heartbreaking crises we are currently living in and to express his belief that we could all be refugees and must break down the walls between us. He and the Amplified Records producers traveled to Berlin to film and record with Damascus Voice, a 24-year-old Syrian rapper who fled Syria when he was 18 and has been living in different refugee camps throughout Europe ever since. Amplified was able to bring Damascus Voice to Freudenhaus recording studio in Berlin and spent four days writing and recording with him. The words on the record come straight from his heart and try to explain to the listener what his hopes and dreams are despite living in a refugee camp, witnessing many atrocities and experiencing extreme hardships on his long journey to freedom.
Only a young boy in his final year at high school when the war started, Damascus Voice turned to hip-hop and rap as a way to express his thoughts and feelings.
On a three-day frantic schedule in New York, Marley took time from his busy schedule to share why he’s so passionate about the issues that refugees face around the world.
Marley’s voice is smooth with a tone that’s both warm and commanding.
He peppers his answers with ‘you know’ forming a kind of musical rhythm that coupled with his Jamaican accent soon begins to sound like lyrics to a song.
Here is what Skip Marley had to share about his single “Refugee,” working with Damascus Voice and the importance of understanding the plight of refugees.
LOS ANGELES SENTINEL: Hello Mr. Marley. You had a big day, debuting your song ‘Refugee’ at World Children’s Day details, please.
SKIP MARLEY: It was an honor, an honor debuting my song [Refugee] to spread our message to such an audience—you know—to convey, hopefully, a positive influence toward the whole refugee crisis—you know—try to make better, you know, it was an honor. It was an honor to be a part of Amplified music as well, you know, which really diversified everything, you know. Bringing voices from all over—you know—giving voice to the voiceless, you know.
LAS: Have you traveled to any refugee camps?
SM: No. Not yet. That’s definitely on the agenda. I’m definitely going to do that.
LAS: Tell me about the young rapper and refugee Damascus Voice?
SM: Him bring a real voice to the track, you know, him bring a real voice he went through the real suffering, you know, him seen it first hand, you know. To be on a track with him [Damascus Voice] is an honor, you know.
LAS: What’s your goal with the record?
SM: To further spread the message.
LAS: There but by the grace of God, anyone of us could become a refugee.
SM: You understand.
LAS: What was it about Damascus Voice’s lyrics that inspired you?
SM: Because him speak in the truth, in what he’s seen. It’s real that, it’s really that connection that you feel on the track. I want you to hear the track because it’s real and authentic. It’s as real as it gets. It don’t get no realer than that.
LAS: I understand that you had the Harlem Children Choir working with you?
SM: (laughing) They were great. They are always great there is even a mini Skip [Marley] as well. He almost does my job better than I do.
LAS: What’s next for you musically?
SM: I have a new single with [Grammy-winning singer] H.E.R.
LAS: What is the new song about?
SM: Love, you know. Love is limitless. Love has no boundaries. Love is almighty—you know.
LAS: Did you write the song?
SM: I wrote the song with Nasir Atweh and Bibi Bourelly, as soon as I heard the [completed] track I was in love. I just grateful that she [H.E.R.] jumped on the track with me, it means a lot.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.