Bob Marley’s greatest songs reimagined as contemporary orchestral works in new Chineke! album

25 March 2022, 17:37

‘Bob Marley & The Chineke! Orchestra’ Album
‘Bob Marley & The Chineke! Orchestra’ Album. Picture: Getty Images / Island Records

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

The first single, ‘One Love/People Get Ready’, is out today...

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Ten of Bob Marley’s greatest songs get an orchestral makeover in a new album from the Chineke! Orchestra.

The Chineke! Orchestra is the flagship ensemble of Chineke! Foundation, founded by double bassist and Classic FM presenter, Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE. The foundation works tirelessly to create opportunities for established and up-and-coming ethnically diverse musicians and nurture new talent by providing role models and celebrating diversity in classical music.

The idea behind this new album originated with former Chineke! Orchestra member and acclaimed solo cellist, Sheku Kanneh-Mason. Kanneh-Mason’s debut album, Inspiration (2018), included his own arrangements of Bob Marley’s No Woman, No Cry and Redemption Song.

His arrangements caught the attention of Tuff Gong, Marley’s recording label, and the Bob Marley estate. This catalyst led to the production of ‘Bob Marley & The Chineke! Orchestra’, recorded at Abbey Road Studios and released by Island Records.

Read more: This virtuoso cello arrangement of ‘No Woman No Cry’ is inventive and beautiful

Bob Marley is one of the 20th century’s most important musical icons and activists.

“...as well as being you know an amazing musician, he was such an important activist for people like us”, comments a member of the Chineke! Orchestra in the above announcement video. Another young musician admits, “it's been an honour really” when describing his part in the creation of the album.

A winner of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Marley incorporated a varied mix of genres into his music, fusing elements from reggae, ska, and rocksteady.

Now contemporary classical is joining the mix.

On the release of the album, Nwanoku said, “As a purely trained classical musician, the idea of being involved in a musical collaboration with the legendary Bob Marley was truly mind-blowing.

“I ardently believe that all genres of music should be open to absolutely everyone, so it was wonderful for Chineke! to be able to bring new orchestrations to these iconic tracks.”

Read more: Chi-chi Nwanoku: ‘After a three-decade career in classical music, I was still the only person of colour on stage’

The full album tracklist:

1. Exodus

2. Stir It Up

3. One Love/People Get Ready — out today; listen here

4. Get Up, Stand Up

5. Is This Love

6. Redemption Song

7. Top Rankin'

8. Satisfy My Soul

9. I Shot The Sheriff

10. Turn Your Lights Down Low

The album, ‘Bob Marley & The Chineke! Orchestra’ will be released by Island Records on 27 May 2022; pre-save here.