Beverley Kelso, one of the founding members of the original Wailers alongside Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Junior Braithwaite and Cherry Smith, is set to be honored for her contribution to The Wailers with a United States Congressional Proclamation at the upcoming Westchester Reggae Festival on May 29.
The story goes that in 1963, a young Bob Marley asked Beverly’s mother to let Beverly be part of the Wailers. The mother approved under the condition that Bob would take her home right home after the studio work. She sang on some two dozen songs, including “It Hurts To Be Alone” and “Lonesome Feeling” before she departed the group in 1965 and eventually migrated to the US in 1979, where she still lives.
She is the lone surviving founding Wailer, following the deaths of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Junior Braithwaite, Cherry Smith and Bunny Wailer.
The founder and executive producer of the Westchester Reggae Festival, Andrea Bullens, recalls her first meeting with Beverly Kelso:
“I have always been intrigued by her quiet demeanor and her fascinating story. After years of being silent, in 2009 we were fortunate to have interviewed her on Caribbean Lifestyle TV in New York. She spoke candidly about being a member of The Wailers and her friendship with ‘Lesta’ (as she affectionately calls Bob Marley) and the group’s rise to fame in the early 1960s. Marley and Beverly had a very, very close relationship, but it was not romantic in any way. This is before Rita and the kids became a part of Bob’s life. She knows a lot about the formative years of The Wailers, when the group had just started to gel. She has a fantastic memory of the young ‘Lesta’ Marley. She has told me some very interesting stories about her life that she has not shared before. I know many people would love to hear her story,”
The Westchester Reggae Festival will feature, among others, Studio One veterans Marcia Griffiths, Leroy Sibbles and Johnny Osbourne. All acts will be backed by Derrick Barnett and the Statement Band.