Last Tuesday, January 17, Jo Mersa Marley was interred at Nine Miles, St Ann, like his legendary grandfather, Bob Marley.
Jo Mersa (born Joseph Marley) passed away suddenly in Miami, at the tender age of 31, on December 27th. The Reggae singer is survived by more than 50 family members, including his wife, Qiara, and daughter, Sunshine, as well as a bevy of famous uncles and aunts, such as Stephen Marley, Ziggy Marley, and Cedella Marley.
Jo Mersa discovered music at an early age. He was, of course, surrounded by it, but also took to it like a moth to a flame. “I started making beats with MPCs when I was about 11, but I wouldn’t save them properly,” he recalled in an interview in his father’s Miami studio. “Then when I was around 12, my cousins and I went on the Melody Makers’ Roots Rock tour. Uncle Ziggy bought my cousins an Apple laptop and we used the Garage Band software and made our beats on it. We recorded from the microphone, put on our headphones and that became our studio for a good three years. That is when my songwriting started to
get more focused, and it even made my writing in school better, because I started to take my words more seriously.”
Recently, Jo Mersa was coming into his own as an artist. His debut album, Eternal, which was released in 2021 under Ghetto Youths International, boasted the elevated production values of Reggae contemporaries Kabaka Pyramid and Protoje, while channeling the kind of Dancehall-Reggae fusion made popular by his uncle Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley. His talent on the microphone was evident for all to see, making him an increasingly sought after collaborator. He was featured on hit songs such as Mucho Humo by Puerto Rican star Farruko.
Figures across the industry have paid tribute to Jo Mersa. Protoje dedicated his recent performance on Jimmy Fallon to the late artist. Ghetto Youths International posted a statement on Instagram, “Joseph ‘Jo Mersa’ Marley was a strong, humble, talented, beautiful human being. A son, husband, father, brother, nephew and cousin and a well-loved Young Lion. The Ghetto Youths International Family is deeply saddened by his untimely passing and appreciate the outpouring of love by fans, friends and colleagues.”
It’s suspected that Jo Mersa died of an asthma attack in his car in Florida.