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Rear View Mirror: Bob Marley's Canadian Connection to 'Redemption Song'

Alex Redekop

Each week on Rear-view Mirror, Rich Terfry and the Radio 2 team look back at a great song from the good ol’ days. Today, it's "Redemption Song" by Bob Marley.

One of Bob Marley's greatest songs - "Redemption Song" - has ties to Nova Scotia.

Every summer in Glace Bay, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, there's a cultural event called Marcus Garvey Days. There's dancing, fundraisers, events for kids. It's all done in the name of preserving black culture and heritage in Cape Breton. The name of the event can be traced back to the time in 1937 when Jamaican political leader and orator Marcus Garvey visited Nova Scotia and spoke in Halifax and Sydney. At Whitney Pier in Sydney, Garvey gave one of his most famous speeches. The line from Garvey's speech most people remembered from that day is "emancipate yourself from mental slavery..."

Bob Marley was a student of Marcus Garvey. He took that famous line and several others from Garvey's speech from Sydney and turned them into lyrics for "Redemption Song", which he wrote and recorded near the end of his life, after being diagnosed with cancer.

How did Bob Marley come to know about Marcus Garvey's visit to Nova Scotia? Well, the speech was later printed in a magazine called Black Man. But that day in Sydney in 1937 is known well to Garvey scholars and the speech is regarded as one of Garvey's most important.

Interesting side note, Marcus Garvey often ended his speeches with the words, "one love". That signature phrase inspired Bob Marley to also write the classic song of the same name.

Here's the classic Bob Marley song, the roots of which were planted by Marcus Garvey in Sydney, Nova Scotia in 1937 - this is "Redemption Song" on Rear View Mirror.

More Editions of Rear View Mirror:

Amy Winehouse - "Rehab"

Prince - "Little Red Corvette"

Fastball - "The Way"

Marvin Gaye - "I Want You"

Steve Miller - "The Joker"

Ian & Sylvia - "Four Strong Winds"

Darrell Banks - "Open the Door to Your Heart"