The mother of Bob Marley, grandmother of Ziggy Marley and mother-in-law of Rita Marley, Cedella Marley Booker pays tribute to her late son on the earthy Awake Zion. Drawing heavily on African-American gospel and R&B (especially the Memphis soul of Stax Records), the Jamaican singer offers music that's comparable to what one might expect from the Staple Singers -- except that her lyrics are inspired by the Rastafarian faith rather than Christianity. Especially poignant are "Stay Alive" and "Mother Don't Cry," both written by Booker (who turned 70 in 1996 and became a great grandmother with the birth of Ziggy's son Daniel) shortly after Bob Marley's death from cancer in 1981. Quite appropriately, most of the players employed on this CD were members of Bob's band, the Wailers. Avoiding pop embellishment and opting for simplicity, Booker and the band make Awake Zion a collection that is as honest as it is moving.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson