A Revelation of Fame and Legacy
Aston’s first brush with the magnitude of his family’s legacy came at a tender age of four and a half. Watching The Wailers perform at a 1979 concert in Santa Barbara on television, he connected the images of Bob Marley he grew up with to the global icon revered by millions. This revelation was a turning point, awakening a deep sense of identity and purpose in him.
Musical Apprenticeship and Early Beginnings
Emulating his father, Aston chose the bass as his first instrument. His father, sensing a natural talent in him, took on the role of his mentor, instilling in him the nuances of bass playing. This mentorship was the foundation of Aston’s disciplined approach to music. By the age of seven, he was already making waves, joining an all-girls high school band in Kingston, a testament to his prodigious talent. His journey in music took a leap when he moved to the United States, joining a school jazz band in Miami and expanding his musical repertoire to include the drums, a nod to his uncle’s legacy.
Professional Foray and Educational Pursuits
While still in high school, Aston began playing bass for Julian Marley And The Uprising Band. This period was crucial in shaping his professional path, as he balanced his burgeoning music career with academic excellence, graduating high school with honors. His talent caught the eye of Lauryn Hill, leading to a significant collaboration that spanned over two years.
Stepping into The Wailers’ Legacy
In 2009, Aston’s journey came full circle when he began touring with The Wailers alongside his father. This experience was more than a musical endeavor; it was an apprenticeship, learning the intricacies of band leadership, stage management, and the art of performance. In 2016, he rose to the occasion, taking the helm of The Wailers, driven by a mission to propel the band’s legacy into a new era.
Grammy Recognition and Artistic Collaborations
Aston’s contributions to the reggae genre were recognized in 2017 when he received a Grammy certificate for his co-production with Damian Marley on the track “The Struggle Discontinues” from the Grammy Award-winning album “Stony Hill.” The following year, he joined forces with Alborosie for the album “Unbreakable – Alborosie meets The Wailers United,” a project that showcased his versatility and commitment to the genre. As a co-owner of BAD Lions Productions, LLC., he has created a hub for musical creativity in Pompano Beach, Florida, collaborating with a diverse array of artists.
A New Chapter with ‘One World’
The Wailers, led by Aston Barrett Jr., released “One World” on August 21, 2020, their first album in over 25 years, via Sony Music Latin. This album, a blend of traditional and modern reggae, features the lead single “One World, One Prayer.” Produced by Emilio Estefan and co-written with Aston Barrett Jr., the track is a vibrant call for unity and love, mixing Jamaican reggae with urban Latin sounds. It includes contributions from international artists such as Farruko, Shaggy, Cedella Marley, and Skip Marley.
Venturing into Acting with ‘Bob Marley: One Love’
Aston Barrett Jr. expanded his artistic repertoire by venturing into acting, portraying his father in the biopic “Bob Marley: One Love.” Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green and co-written by Terence Winter, Frank E. Flowers, and Zach Baylin, the film is a comprehensive portrayal of the life of reggae legend Bob Marley, tracing his rise to fame and his journey until his untimely death in 1981. The film features Kingsley Ben-Adir in the titular role of Bob Marley, with Lashana Lynch as Rita Marley, Jesse Cilio as Norval Marley, and James Norton as Chris Blackwell.
Looking to the Future
The Wailers, under Aston’s visionary guidance, are set to release a new album in 2024, collaborating again with Emilio Estefan. This project is highly anticipated, promising to fuse the timeless Wailers sound with innovative musical elements.
A Legacy Continued
Aston Barrett Jr.’s journey is not just a story of musical talent but a narrative of dedication, respect for legacy, and a continuous evolution of the reggae genre. His life and career stand as a testament to the enduring influence of his family’s musical heritage, a legacy he carries forward with pride and innovation.