TAJ WEEKES & ADOWA
Taj Weekes and Adowa weave a true social consciousness with an unforgettable reggae groove. Blending in elements of acoustic roots rock and afro-folk simplicity, the band’s vibrant sound has captured the attention of audiences around the globe. Weekes’ talent for creating irresistible musical settings for poetic exposures of often-uncomfortable truths has garnered consistent critical acclaim and Grammy nomination consideration for his second release, DEIDEM.
CURRENTLY BOOKING FOR 2012
Taj Weekes & Adowa is currently booking dates for their 2012 tour of the United States and abroad. The band's tour history includes a cross-section of festivals, events and special venues. Their appeal crosses many genres, including fans of reggae, world, roots, rock, soul, and blues.
PAST FESTIVALS & EVENTS
• Sierra Nevada World Music Festival
• St. Lucia Jazz Festival
• Mount Helena Music Festival
• Blissfest Folk & Roots Festival & Workshop
• River City Roots Music Festival
• Houston International Festival
• Festival International de Louisiane
• Taos Solarfest
• Lotus World Music Festival
• Roots ‘N Blues ‘N BBQ Festival
• The Kalamazoo Island Festival
• Midwest Reggae Festival
Taj Weekes is available for lecture engagements accompanied by solo acoustic performance. The band is based in New York and provides their own transportation and backline.
UPCOMING EVENTS IN 2012
Taj Weekes & Adowa are gearing up for a year full of live performances, record and video releases and philanthropy. Check out the band's website for constant updates on their latest endeavors.
• Single and Video Releases from "A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen" - Winter 2012
• Album release and tour in France - Spring 2012
• Launch of their college lecture/performance tour - Spring 2012
• Worldwide tour, which includes stops in France, Germany, Amsterdam, the US and the Caribbean - Spring/Summer 2012
• Release of their 4th album - Fall 2012
• Mission trips through TOCO - Visits to Haiti, St. Lucia and Trinidad/Tobago to distribute soccer balls, gear and equipment to underserved Caribbean communities.
• Just Plain Folks Music Awards : Deidem winner of "Best Reggae Album" Award
• Grammy Awards: Deidem shortlisted for consideration of 2008 "Best Reggae Album" nomination
• Billboard Magazine: Deidem listed as one of "Six Essential Albums Heralding Roots Rock's Resurgence"
• Houston Chronicle: Deidem listed as one of "Ten Great Albums by Non-Marleys" encompassing the history of reggae
• XM Satellite Radio: Taj Weekes noted for "raising the level of songwriting within the idiom of reggae music."
ESSENCE OF THE ARTIST (See Videos)
Driven to inspire conscious thought and provoke discussion through his poignant poetry and lyrics, Weekes says, "I write from the heart and I speak about issues that move me. I believe that’s what really matters." Always striving to bring awareness to the issues he is passionate about, Weekes founded his charity, They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO) , in 2007 to improve the lives of underprivileged children in the Caribbean through sports, health and enrichment programs.
WORKSHOPS AND LECTURES
Taj Weekes is available to present workshops and lectures on a variety of topics that encompasses music and social responsibility. He relates his personal experience, inspirations and aspirations as he discusses the theme of how music plays a role in global acceptance, tolerance and social responsibility. As a musician and songwriter, he delves into the subjects that compel him to pick up his pen and continue in the tradition of storyteller/town crier that is at the root of reggae music. Weekes shares his philosophy on what individual responsibility means in regards to caring for our earth and caring for each other as well as how that translates into everyday actions for all of us. Weekes’ life’s work and artistic expression is an example of how we can all make a difference in our communities and in the world by controlling our own consumption and sharing our surplus of time, energy, and resources, no matter how great or small.
Taj Weekes: lead vocal, rhythm and acoustic guitar
Radss Desiree: bass
Adoni Xavier: lead
Cornell Marshall: drums
John Hewitt: keyboards and
John James: guitar
Valerie Kelley: background vocals
A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen, (2010)
Hope & Doubt (2005)
[+ Show ]
"Billboard proclaims six albums that herald the roots-reggae resurgence." Quoted from Jamaic...
"Billboard proclaims six albums that herald the roots-reggae resurgence." Quoted from Jamaica Gleaner
Tarrus Riley, "Parables" (VP Records)
Tarrus Riley's exquisite tenor and well-constructed lyrics; the superb musical accompaniment by Kingston, Jamaica's finest; and Dean Fraser's inspiring production deliver the roots rock revival's quintessential CD. "Parables" includes crossover hit "She's Royal," but the stirring Rastafarian tribute "Lion Paw" and the breathtaking "Africa Awaits" demonstrate the expanse of Riley's talents.
Rootz Underground, "Movement" (Riverstone/Mystic Urchin Records)
Lead singer Stephen Newland's compelling vocals offer smart, searing commentaries supported by intricately crafted, infinitely durable one-drop rhythms with subtle rock undercurrents. They could all prove invaluable in attracting a much-deserved broad-based following.
Etana, "The Strong One" (VP Records)
Etana's dynamic vocal resonance (think Miriam Makeba meets India.Arie), displayed on her hits "Wrong Address" and "Roots," present uncompromising, self-empowering messages and a welcome challenge to the perception of reggae's female vocalists who rarely get to transcend the role of background singer.
Taj Weekes & Adowa, "Diedem" (Jatta Music)
St. Lucia-born singer/songwriter/guitarist Taj Weekes' enigmatic vocals are underscored by somber reggae beats and lyrics emphasizing an array of global calamities on this poignant release.
Duane Stephenson, "From August Town" (VP Records)
Duane Stephenson's solid introductory effort offers beautifully nuanced vocals and heartfelt lyrics that convey romantic longing and the anguish of ghetto realities with equal conviction.
Morgan Heritage, "Mission in Progress" (VP Records)
Highlighting its urban edge was a wise move for this Brooklyn-born sibling aggregation's 10th album and its first to top Billboard's reggae chart. The reason? "We listened to our children and updated our sound," keyboardist Una Morgan says. -PM
[+ Show ]
Taj Weekes and Adowa make for a powerful combination on DEIDEM (Jatta). Minor-key grooves...
Taj Weekes and Adowa make for a powerful combination on DEIDEM (Jatta). Minor-key grooves a la early Wailers add punch to Weekes' distinctive tenor and songs like the contemplative "Angry Language," "Dark Clouds" and "Propaganda War" return us to the days of poetic lyrics, social outcry and seasoned reasoning. Fans of Nasio Fontaine -- and the Wailers -- will find a kindred soul in Weekes' indictments of society's shortcomings and the band's rock steady-rooted picking style and the sincerity of his vocals and songs, whether they are relationship oriented like "Hollow Display" or, like "Louisiana," address broader issues.
FLAVOUR MAGAZINE - LONDON
[+ Show ]
If someone says ‘reggae’ you may respond with ‘Jamaica’, ‘Gyptian’ or you might ...
If someone says ‘reggae’ you may respond with ‘Jamaica’, ‘Gyptian’ or you might get up and show off the latest dance craze from a Busy Signal tune. Such is the popularity of reggae music the world over that many have embraced it, adapted it and some may argue, exploited it by watering down its true essence. But there’s still part of this much loved genre that takes us beyond the depths of a heavy bassline and infectious riddims. Chanel Williams caught up with Taj Weekes, the man acclaimed to be reviving old skool roots reggae with his band, Adowa.
As I wait to be connected to Taj Weekes I’m serenaded by one of the tunes from his new album. Within a few seconds I’m interrupted by a softly spoken man with a subtle yet sweet Caribbean accent. You can immediately feel the calm energy of his laid back island vibe and with civility out of the way we get to the important stuff.
Hailing from the beautiful island of St Lucia, Weekes grew up the youngest of ten children in a family where music was ever present. At the age of five, his relationship with music began when he started singing in church and had his own radio show at age eleven. In pursuing his musical career, Weekes moved to the States in his late teens where he met a group of Caribbean musicians who later collectively formed Taj Weekes & Adowa. From the name alone, it’s easy to see why some may make comparisons to Bob Marley and the Wailers, but Weekes humbly acknowledges they have a long way to go, ‘How can they say that when we’ve only done two albums compared with the many [Marley] has done and the influence of his music till now.’ Another obvious difference is that he is not from Jamaica, the home of reggae music, but this doesn’t make his any less authentic, ‘I write from the heart’ Weekes explains, ‘music is like a tree: its roots are in Jamaica, but its branches have outgrown the yard and the fruit has landed in other territories.’
Weekes’ immersion in the Rastafari faith (not Rastafarianism, as commonly referred to by many) means his music is synonymous with greater depth and relative meaning. His band, Adowa, (pronounced “Ah-Doh-Wah”) is named in honour of the victorious Ethiopian battle and is also a tribute to his Ethiopian grandfather. Following their critically acclaimed debut album Hope & Doubt, Taj and Adowa are set to gain an even larger fan base with their sophomore release, Deidem (All of Us). The conscious artist is impressed by my pronunciation of a name many have struggled with, ‘I’ve heard plenty people call it [a] whole heap of names’ he says, ‘everything in Rastafari relates to ‘I’ (hence, ‘de-I-dem’). With tracks exploring issues of suffering around the world including Louisiana - a song written about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina - Deidem depicts subjects many people can relate to. Through his simple yet powerful lyrics, Weekes captures a sense of pain, and with his dusky unique voice he is able to evoke emotions you wouldn’t usually expect to feel on a first helping of a tune. Since Cain, in its biblical reference, echoes the current climate of violence we read about in newspapers far too often: "Is there anyone with sense to put an end to this violence/I kill you, you kill me…and so the cycle goes around…"
Weekes’ genuine interest in world issues as referred to in Orphans Cry is backed by his non-profit organisation, They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO) which works to improve the lives of disadvantaged children, through various programmes including football – ‘when I was growing up we played a lot of football…I figured if we could give the children balls maybe it would take their mind off things for a little while.’ Weekes certainly practices what he preaches and as the Goodwill Ambassador for the Caribbean, he is in a position to do so. He may not be the first reggae artist to sing about deep topics, but with strong spiritual grounding and a fresh approach to delivering inspiring messages, Weekes proves that Taj Weekes and Adowa are paving the way as leaders of classical roots reggae.
Words by Chanel Williams
TAJ WEEKES & ADOWA
[+ Show ]
Blazing his own trail along the often-arduous path of conscious roots reggae, Taj Weekes manages to ...Blazing his own trail along the often-arduous path of conscious roots reggae, Taj Weekes manages to find rays of light in an often dark and dismal age. The optimism shines directly from Weekes' vocal tone--soft, airy and uplifting--though it is most evident in his chosen song topics. Themes include the cycle of global violence and oppression, emotional solidarity, and even environmental havoc--think Bob Marley for the Green generation. His newest album, Deidem, is the follow up to his debut LP, Hope and Doubt; both records present an intensely stimulating, and invigorating collection of classic roots reggae. (GW)
[+ Show ]
Reggae music has long been a conduit for spiritual and higher conscious themed lyricism. While man...
Reggae music has long been a conduit for spiritual and higher conscious themed lyricism. While many artists’ ruminations border on hackneyed, lightweight mysticism, Taj Weekes rises above the fray to offer substantial and thought-provoking observations on songwriting’s equivalent of the three needs: life, love and politics. Backed by his impeccable band Adowa, the St. Lucia native is among underground reggae’s fastest rising stars.
Hope & Doubt (Alpha Pocket)
[+ Show ]
There have been an unusually large number of impressive reggae releases over the past few months, so...There have been an unusually large number of impressive reggae releases over the past few months, so so to say that Hope & Doubt is one of the best reggae releases of the year is saying something. Hailing from St. Lucia and now based in New York City, Weekes is an amazing talent who delivers an astonishing debut. It has a classic, poised, natural roots vibe, unconcerned with trying to sound hip or trying to cram 20 tracks into one album. Weekes' singing voice is strikingly original: mellow, folksy, and high-pitched (I admit that it took me a couple of listens to realize that it wasn't a woman singing.) -- yet with a slight Marley-esque rasp that adds just the right amount of edge. His lyrics are introspective and melancholy (as exemplified by titles like "Sad," "Jagged," "Cold," and "Blue") with uncommon poetic beauty, and the music, performed by backing band Adowa and produced by Weekes himself, is a full-bodied roots treat. The overall sound is somewhat akin to African roots reggae (not surprising, since he is of Ethiopian descent), with its bouncy organs and horns, a bluesy touch (using electric guitars and vocal repetition), and harmonizing female background vocals (reflecting the heavy Marley influence on the continent's music). Hope & Doubt is how roots reggae should be done; listen at cdbaby.com, then buy
Taj Weekes & Adowa Hope & Doubt
[+ Show ]
If ever there was a band that absorbed the roots rocking throb of the Wailers Band it would have t...
If ever there was a band that absorbed the roots rocking throb of the Wailers Band it would have to be Taj Weekes and Adowa on their debut disc Hope & Doubt (Alpha Pocket). Weekes’ unique vocal style and distinctive lyrical bent lift the project from homage to originality with cuts like “Scream Out Mellow.” “Lonesome in Babylon” and single word titles like “Cold,” “Sad,” “Mysterious,” “Jagged” and “Blue.” If you like the international reggae sound of Alpha Blondy and Nasio Fontaine check out the unique approach of Taj Weekes and Adowa. High points include “MPLA,” a universal tale of the social schism that both leads to and results form the decision to grow dreads, and the introspective “Life”
Abundant Reggae Riches
[+ Show ]
Of Ethiopian heritage but hailing from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, taj weekes is presently ba...Of Ethiopian heritage but hailing from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, taj weekes is presently based in New York City with his band Adowa. His sort of reggae is built around a longstanding roots-style framework, with tidy production values and a crisp rhythmic bounce that matches well with weekes' warm, mildly urgent voice and knack for melodic and lyrical hooks. Hope and Doubt brings reggae to the mainstream in a way that readily bespeaks Bob Marley- not about to compromise commercially though readily embracing all with ears to hear. Songs like \"Scream Out Mellow,\" \"MPLA\" and \"Life\" are deep but everyman-like expressions of consciousness that flow easily while providing ample food for thought. Also highly recommended.
Nary a false note
[+ Show ]
For his debut album, “HOPE & DOUBT” Taj Weekes has summoned up a creation that both upends the idea ...For his debut album, “HOPE & DOUBT” Taj Weekes has summoned up a creation that both upends the idea of modern reggae music, while maintaining faith with the overarching ethos of the form.
In a finely skewered vocal style and the deft support of his band ‘ADOWA’ he tackles the question of lives on the edge of desperation. With a skeptical and assured lyrical approach that leaves no room for posturing he takes up the case of the dispossessed not as grand rant but reduced in intense human terms.
Whether mingled with religious imagery as on “SCREAM OUT MELLOW” or in the wary observations of “JAGGED EDGE” his characters, sometimes confused, sometimes dubious and yes, sometimes hopeful search for meaning under a powerful uncomprehending authority. There is at times a startling directness to Weekes lyrics (How could anyone not be taken in or at least taken aback by a line as deadpan as “Hurts me I hate it – this is my life” from “LIFE”).
This is soul rebel animus couched in the most irresistible rhythms. Indeed the first few bars of M.P.L.A. (the tale of another disinherited child of the Ghetto) alone is worth the price of admission. There are also moments among the 11 tracks for other concerns.
“Cold & UNSURE” is a classic romantic lament, while the wickedly infectious “BLUE” finds Taj in roguish lover mode. It is a rhythmic surge that culminates with the ultimate party track, the ska-tinged “MYSTERIOUS” a barn burner guaranteed to get the joint poppin’.
There is nothing run – of – the –mill here and nary a false note. “HOPE & DOUBT” is at once a bow to the masters and a fresh forward thrust into undiscovered territory.
Letting the Music Breathe
[+ Show ]
With Taj Weekes describing his childhood on the island of St. Lucia as a “Caribbean Von Trapp family...With Taj Weekes describing his childhood on the island of St. Lucia as a “Caribbean Von Trapp family experience” you know right away that you’re in for an interesting trip. Growing up surrounded by music and listening to everything from traditional gospel to The Mighty Sparrow to Paul Simon to Nat King Cole, he was introduced to Rasta by his older brother as a teenager and then eventually left the “stifling” surroundings of St. Lucia for New York City. There he began honing his own unique roots reggae sound and Rasta consciousness, both of which are abundantly evident on this debut CD.
And all of it is led by Taj’s soft and throaty voice, which lyrically floats above the soul-tinged rhythms of his stellar traditional reggae band. For the record, these talented musicians are keyboardist, Bunny Cunningham, bassist, Radss Desiree', guitarist, Shelton Garner, drummer, Conrad Seraphin, and Ari Matsumoto.
But far above and beyond the technical aspects of this album, which are brilliant, is the heart that comes pouring out of every note and word. This is spiritually transforming music, powerfully political and personal, that fills and refreshes the mind of the listener with visions of, well, hope and doubt.
The prime example of this and easily my favorite song on an album of 10 perfect songs is “Sad.”
“many people wonder why/amongst the fighting we/replace hate with our smiles/replace it with our smiles…surely we need a brighter song/for sad tomorrow.”
I’ll just let that fade out and go. Check out Taj Weekes & Adowa
Sets are usually about an hour long with the entire album + new compositons being played. All compositions are 100% homegrown.
Life, Lonesome in Babylon, Sad, MPLA, Two Joints, Cold, Crash, Blue, Mysterious, Thorns, Jagged, Scream out Mellow.
Angry Language, We Stand, For Today, Cobbler's Son, SIPPI,
There are no upcoming dates at this time.