WASHINGTON (NNPA) -- Ky-Mani Marley, a son of the legendary Jamaican music artist Bob Marley, regrets ever putting his life on paper. His recently released memoir has become a brewing source of an increasingly ugly controversy between himself, his famous family and the book's publisher, Dr. Farrah Gray. Gray contends that the estate of the late Bob Marley is not happy about the "family secrets" that Ky-Mani revealed in his very telling book, "Dear Dad: Where's The Family In Our Family, Today?" It was released on Feb. 6 to coincide with the elder Marley's 65th birthday. Ky-Mani alleges that the publisher misrepresented and sensationalized his life story in order to push more units.
"There are secrets in the book that they didn't want out that Ky-Mani didn't have a problem putting out. But now that the book is published he's now stating that he's distancing himself and denouncing the book," Gray said in an exclusive interview with the NNPA News Service. "Those are his words. I didn't write it. I published it. He wrote it with the assistance of another writer and had the final edit on it. And [he] was very happy with the book."
NNPA was not able to get comments from the Marley family nor Ky-mani Marley but in an online statement posted to his Facebook page Ky-Mani shared his side of the story.
"I did not expect that Dr. Gray would have been unprofessional and malicious in twisting my words or using things that were discussed in confidence to create controversy in an attempt to sell a book," Ky-Mani wrote in his statement.
Of course, the Marleys have every right to protect the public brand of the family's very lucrative estate, which, according to Fortune Magazine, is expected to generate worldwide annual sales in excess of $1 billion by 2012. But, Gray contends that they have no legal right to interfere with this book as the memoir is Ky-Mani's alone.
And so is the signed contract that exists between him and Gray's company Farrah Gray Publishing. "Dear Dad" is Gray's first project under his new publishing firm. The accomplished 24-year-old Gray is an author, columnist, entrepreneur, speaker and philanthropist. At 14, he became the world's youngest self-made Black millionaire and, recently, became the youngest recipient to ever receive a prestigious Trumpet Award for his entrepreneurial success.
Gray said that after the book went out to media outlets and was getting ready for the final print stages he got emails and calls from Ky-Mani and executives of the Marley estate demanding that changes be made to the book immediately. According to Gray, the family was threatening to cut Ky-Mani off if the book made it to press.
"Ky-mani approved the book," Gray said. "Every step of the way I worked with him so, I'm not really sure what he's not approving of."
Gray said that the book was transcribed entirely from Ky-mani's taped interviews. He charges the sudden change of heart to "family politics".
"During the final edit of the book, I spoke with my sister, Cedella [Marley], and I advised Dr. Farrah Gray that some changes had to be made and until the changes were made, I was not willing to do any promotion for the book," Ky-Mani stated. "I could not support and promote something that is not 100 percent mine and that I believe in. Dr. Gray apparently thought that by turning something that was written from the heart into something seemingly malicious was going to benefit him in some way."
Ky-Mani also alleges that Gray made changes to the book's cover without his consent.
The book's original title was changed from "Dear Dad: The Marley Son Who Persevered From the Streets To Prominence." The title was changed to its current name: "Dear Dad: Where's The Family In Our Family, Today?"
A caption, "The Story The Marley Family Apparently Doesn't Want You To Know" was also added at the bottom of the cover to double as both a marketing draw and as a direct jab at his adversaries in the matter.
The title change was made because of the Marley family's attempt to stop the book, Gray contends. He insists that nothing was taken that wasn't a direct quote from Ky-Mani. In fact, the change in the book's subtitle is a direct quote from inside of the book, he said.
"The name is the book is still 'Dear Dad'," Gray said. "The quote, taken from the inside of the book, is his question to them. And the statement on the book came about since the family tried to stop the book from coming out."
Ky-Mani, on the other hand, stated that while the book was meant to tell his story from his point of view it was never intended to be used as an attack on his family.
"I'm not happy about it, I'm very hurt," Marley told The Jamaica Gleaner in an interview published the day the book was released. "All I wanted to do was tell my story, not cause any conflict."
As Bob Marley's tenth child, the 33-year-old Grammy-nominated musician enjoys a musical namesake that is beloved the world over. But, as a son born outside of Marley's marriage, Ky-Mani was also mostly exiled from the silver spoon upbringing that many of his more privileged siblings enjoyed following their father's untimely death in 1981.
"This cold war that gets waged on the inside of our family between the so-called legitimate and the somehow perceived illegitimate sibling is madness," he wrote, according to an excerpt from the book. "It's ignorance. And it is so not our father. That is someone else."
Instead of growing up in the grandiose Marley's hilltop family estate in Jamaica the autobiography details Ky-Mani's impoverished beginnings from the island to his life as a petty drug peddler in the seedy streets of Miami to a successful music career as an internationally-recognized reggae artist. The book also recounts how the deceased icon's second youngest son was estranged from the family fortune by Bob Marley's widow Rita Marley for much of his life because, according to the book, she refused to financially support any children her late-husband fathered outside of their marriage.
"Ky-Mani Marley grew up with the last name but not the guarantee," Gray said. "Ky-mani's been hanged over the fact that he's been ostracized. He's the only one in music that is not on the family's record label. If Bob Marley was here he would not be happy with the mistreatment of his son and then trying to squash his story. The Marley estate should be ashamed. It's all very sad."
The two parties are threatening legal action against each other. The publisher may seek to have the Marley estate executives held legally liable for "intentionally damaging" the contractual relationship between his publishing company and Ky-Mani Marley, which may have cost him book sales due to Ky-mani's refusal to promote the book.
As an even more defining gesture, if the controversy continues, Gray is threatening to release the actual audio recordings of Ky-Mani's taped interviews with even more damaging things about the Ky-mani's relationship with his father's family, according to Gray.
"I'm getting caught in the crossfire of family politics, which is the worst kind of politics because it's based on pure emotion," Gray said. "He's my author. I had a contract with him and he was happy with his book before the intimidation started, before the campaign that they launched to scare him from coming out with the book and the frantic emails and calls that I've received regarding them not liking the book because it is the story the Marley family doesn't want you to know between those pages."
Gray concludes: "He has regrets about writing the book but I didn't put a gun to his head … He wanted to write the book."