Taj Weekes & Adowa
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Taj Weekes & Adowa

New York City, NY | Established. Jan 01, 2005 | INDIE

New York City, NY | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2005
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"Taj Weekes - Radically Roots"

For Rastafari-inspired roots reggae, Taj Weekes is among the very best we have. The St. Lucian-born artist’s three albums in the last seven years brim with distinctive lyrics and musicianship, and like all great art, one gets deeper into life through the music rather than escape.

He and his band Adowa perform at 2720 on Wednesday, July 18. And for an all-killer/no filler show, St. Louis’ Mario Pascal plays the opening set. It’s a contender for roots reggae concert of the year.

Born and raised in St. Lucia, now a resident of New York City, the singer/guitarist has a small but impressive body of work. From Hope and Doubt (2005) to Deidem (2008) and A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen (2010), Weekes has set his sights on the most pressing issues of the day through keening vocals, disarming lyrics and potent one drop riddims.

Weekes is a walking, singing and ideologically seamless blend of music, spirituality, activism and 501©3-certified progressive works.

To say that Weekes takes on dread topics like terrorism, environmental destruction and genocide makes him sound like an ambulance chaser, only worse. But as a Caribbean folk artist and as socially conscious Rastafarian, Weekes is following in a long and honorable tradition of making society the focus of art.

“People are really moved by what it is we are saying,” Weekes told me in a phone call in early July. “The thing of it is, I say as an artist, our sole job is to be a town crier, to bring to light things that people may not think about as much or things that people may not have heard about.

“Whether it be what happened in New Orleans or the earthquake in Chile or the earthquake in Haiti or what happened in Japan, we need to bring it out. I mean, with commercial radio and corporate media, all they tell us about is who killed Frankie’s girl on the corner or everything that doesn’t concern us. So it is my responsibility to let the people know what is happening, and maybe we can respond accordingly.

The artist’s response to the subjects of his life and music is systematic and ongoing. Four years ago, he founded They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO), a humanitarian organization whose mission is to improve the lives of Caribbean children through health, sport and enrichment programs. TOCO’s activities are many: a campaign which sent shoes to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake; an exhibition of T-shirts with personal messages written on them to call attention to domestic violence in St. Lucia; a Christmastime toy drive in his home country that will, beginning this year, become a pan-Caribbean effort later.

In early 2012, TOCO went to Trinidad & Tobago to deliver soccer gear and to conduct workshops for the youth. Weekes says that what took place in T&T went beyond the material goods. TOCO is partnering with other organizations (e.g. Rise St. Lucia) to expand the collective power and outreach.

“We kind of brought two rural communities together that had not been together for 15, 20 years. It’s amazing the power of sport can actually bring people together. We are working on trying to get children in the ghetto to US colleges, so we brought coaches down with us and spoke to the kids about the importance of academics and sport.”

Weekes brings a holistic vision to his life and art.

“The funny thing is, some people tend to kind of fragment it and say, well, ‘you’re the artist who is a humanitarian.’ But I just see it as one. We all just need to look deep inside and realize that we are our brother’s keeper,” he said.

Weekes looked to faraway, remote Darfur in Sudan for one of his finest songs, “Janjaweed,” one of the few in reggae about that region of Africa. The song refers to the paramilitary forces who have been widely documented as responsible for the systematic genocide – pillaging villages, killing civilians, poisoning wells – in the large remote western Sudan region of Darfur. There was much grassroots activism worldwide over Darfur, but the institutions of power were weak in response.

Weekes learned anew the power of music, his music, when he toured in France in 2011.

“The funny thing is, we were in France last summer and we were on a radio station called Africa 1. The brother called us over because he wanted to do an interview. He had played this song a week before we came, and he said he must have gotten over a thousand calls just about ‘Janjaweed,’” Weekes said.

“We’re actually calling the janjaweed out by name. On Deidem we have a tune called ‘Orphans Cry,’ ‘the devil who rides on horseback.’ This is the literal translation of janjaweed, the devils who ride on horseback, and there we were calling them to their face. The response was incredible, especially on the African stations in France.”

The band name Adowa refers to the legendary battle site where Ethiopia repelled the Italian invaders in 1896. The musicians Weekes has brought to St. Louis in past performances are worthy of the moniker. Tighter than a chapped - KDHX blog


"Exclusive Pre-Review of Taj Weekes & Adowa's Pariah in Transit"

"For some years live reggae music from Jamaica has been celebrated. This should be too."

When the best roots reggae music made on islands outside Jamaica is mentioned, most people’s attention falls on the Virgin Islands: the didactic seminars of Midnite, the broken toned roots-pop of Pressure, the quavering unity pleas for Ras Batch. But a share of the acclaim is also deserved by St Lucian-born Taj Weekes, who has harnessed the poetic spirit of a Derek Walcott to a Bob Marley rebelliousness and a haunting voice like its frequent subject matter: the child hardened and wise beyond his years.

Fans of his albums with NYC based groupAdowa, 'Hope and Doubt', 'Deidem', and 'A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen' will know that they are ruthlessly consistent in the recording studio. However, many followers outside the US will not have witnessed their live shows (at the time of writing Weekes has had to cancel a date in Paris due to foot surgery). A 2008 recording of an appearance at Mexico’s Taos Molar festival remedied this to a degree. But now Weekes has announced 'Pariah In Transit', a forthcoming album recorded at various venues across the Northern American countries, which United Reggae has been sent as an exclusive preview in un-mastered form. The title, according to Weekes, refers to his perceived outsider status in the reggae industry and the hustle and bustle of travelling the lands purveying their musical wares.

The majority of the songs are from the 'Deidem' era and represent Weekes’ writing at its most musically and lyrically bleak. The only major key selection is post Hurricane Katrina reaction Rain Rain (on 'A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen' he began to marry harrowing messages to more optimistic sounding melodies – allowing them to sneak under the radar into people’s lives). Drummer Cornel Marshall slows down and speeds up the tempo record-turntable-style on the predetermination ska of Since Cain(interestingly this month’s outstanding debut from Jamaica’s Jah9 features the same trick) while the rhythm to eschatological stepper For Today seems to float on air. There is nothing that roots purists would call inauthentic about this music – but Taj andAdoni Xavier’s dual guitar attack and unique sense of lyrical complexity and minor key gloom, make this reggae that many a rock or metal fan could embrace. he album starts with a Santana Black Magic Woman-like crescendo that opens Angry Language – and closes with the full-on axe shredding of final track and affirmation of Selassie’s divinity,Scream Out.

Captured in small venues through the mixing desk, the sound is remarkably clear (although this comes at a price – the crowd is only really heard between the songs). Some of the performances feature Chris Laubourne’s saxophone and some don’t. In its current state it all sounds a bit quiet when part of a digital mp3 player’s loudness war – which will likely be resolved when the mastering is done. In fact, the only real criticism is that more tracks from 'A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen' could have been featured as the set-list is quite similar in places to the Taos Molar show.

Considering the wealth and depth of meaning in Weekes’ and Adowa’s work this review’s conclusion is a comparatively prosaic one: that they can deliver what’s on record on stage. For some years now live reggae music from Jamaica has been enthusiastically celebrated. This should be too. - United Reggae - Angus Taylor


"Taj Weekes' Anthems of Hope"

Taj Weekes: ‘We all have to hold each other’s hand and walk the path together.’

2013 is going to be a big year for St. Lucia’s Taj Weekes. In February he was honored with the St. Lucia House Foundation’s Humanitarian Award, and on April 9 he and his band Adowa will release a new live album, Pariah in Transit, advances of which have already produced a raft of positive reviews. Socially conscious in more than name only, Weekes makes improving the lives of underprivileged, at-risk and orphaned Caribbean youth a daily part of his life’s work, mainly through the efforts of his charity, They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO), which he founded in 2007 and leads with a clear vision of its mission. This installment of Border Crossings honors Weekes’s work, previews his new live album and, via an interview with World Music Newswire, talks to him about his acclaimed 2010 work, A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen, which features stirring original songs reflecting on the devastation–physical, social and psychological–inflicted by Hurricane Katrina, the continuing despoiling of the planet as exemplified by the BP oil spill, and the horrors of Darfur.

The Lush and Gritty Grooves of St. Lucia’s Taj Weekes
‘If the people suffer, no matter where they are—-on St. Lucia, in Darfur, in China—-we have to say it. We all have to hold each other’s hand and walk the path together.’

St. Lucian singer-songwriter Taj Weekes makes music that grooves like waves on a beach: seemingly gentle yet insistently powerful. On stage and on albums like the recent A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen, Weekes and his band Adowa unite a vibrant diversity of sounds with thoughtful, lush arrangements and a long-honed penchant for telling tales of hardship and hope.

“I don’t sit down and write socially conscious songs. I write songs about where I place my focus,” Weekes explains. “I grew up listening to the power of the music, the lyrical content. That’s what matters.”

Weekes harnesses this power, using his gritty tenor as counterpoint to the lilting pulse of his guitar. He has reflected on the impact of Hurricane Katrina (“Rain Rain”), on the twisted tragedy of Darfur (“Janjaweed”), on the careless destruction of the Gulf oil spill (“Drill”). He knows how to sing with great tenderness (the subdued, poignant “Before the War”) or with wry firmness (“Anthems of Hope”), balancing elegant melodies with rich strings, purring percussion, bluesy harmonica licks, and funky, funky keys. He hints simultaneously at José González, Merle Haggard, Jimmy Scott, Tracy Chapman, Peter Tosh.

Though long hailed by reggae fans, Weekes defies simple genre formulas. His intuitive, intense songwriting ties together the many threads of his Caribbean heritage and honors his unflagging engagement with the world as a musician, philanthropist, and lecturer.

Weekes grew up tossing country tunes and jazz standards around the family kitchen with his father and siblings, learning how to speak truth to power from local calypso musicians, and watching his Rastafarian brothers take on a violently critical society. The young Weekes was also a DJ at a local radio station, absorbing and playing everything: classical music, hard rock, reggae.

Classic country and calypso were also big on St. Lucia, and both are about telling stories, a vital part of Weekes’ work. “We’re a storytelling people,” muses Weekes. Early calypso singers, as well as reggae performers, were the town criers of their communities, taking stands on local issues and calling out corrupt politicians. At the same time, country songs poured from the radio, and boot-sporting, cowboy hat-wearing music fans on St. Lucia couldn’t get enough of their real-life tales of heartbreak and faith.

Though deeply connected to the musical life of his island home, Weekes came into his artistic own while spending time in New York City, where he eventually gathered a group of musicians from across the Caribbean diaspora to form Adowa (named for the 19th-century battle when Ethiopians beat back an invading Italian army). Adowa has both serious reggae cred and rock-solid musicianship. Weekes and Adowa have played major jazz, rock and global music festivals, like a recent headliner gig in front of nearly 30,000 fans at the Austin Reggae Festival, as well as garner critical acclaim from reggae writers and lovers.

Though well loved in reggae circles, Weekes has evolved his own approach to making music that combines genres and vibes, incorporating sounds from vintage Ethiopian funk jazz to roots rock, from Deep South blues to West African percussion. These diverse elements interweave in Weekes’ intuitive, reflective songwriting, often spurred by a single word or story.

As Weekes & Adowa were finishing up A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen, Weekes was reading a newspaper story about the BP oil spill. “’I stopped the session and told the guys I had a new song,” Weekes recalls. “And I starting laying down the guitar for ‘Drill’ on the spot.” - Deep Roots


"Taj Weekes' Anthems of Hope"

Taj Weekes: ‘We all have to hold each other’s hand and walk the path together.’

2013 is going to be a big year for St. Lucia’s Taj Weekes. In February he was honored with the St. Lucia House Foundation’s Humanitarian Award, and on April 9 he and his band Adowa will release a new live album, Pariah in Transit, advances of which have already produced a raft of positive reviews. Socially conscious in more than name only, Weekes makes improving the lives of underprivileged, at-risk and orphaned Caribbean youth a daily part of his life’s work, mainly through the efforts of his charity, They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO), which he founded in 2007 and leads with a clear vision of its mission. This installment of Border Crossings honors Weekes’s work, previews his new live album and, via an interview with World Music Newswire, talks to him about his acclaimed 2010 work, A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen, which features stirring original songs reflecting on the devastation–physical, social and psychological–inflicted by Hurricane Katrina, the continuing despoiling of the planet as exemplified by the BP oil spill, and the horrors of Darfur.

The Lush and Gritty Grooves of St. Lucia’s Taj Weekes
‘If the people suffer, no matter where they are—-on St. Lucia, in Darfur, in China—-we have to say it. We all have to hold each other’s hand and walk the path together.’

St. Lucian singer-songwriter Taj Weekes makes music that grooves like waves on a beach: seemingly gentle yet insistently powerful. On stage and on albums like the recent A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen, Weekes and his band Adowa unite a vibrant diversity of sounds with thoughtful, lush arrangements and a long-honed penchant for telling tales of hardship and hope.

“I don’t sit down and write socially conscious songs. I write songs about where I place my focus,” Weekes explains. “I grew up listening to the power of the music, the lyrical content. That’s what matters.”

Weekes harnesses this power, using his gritty tenor as counterpoint to the lilting pulse of his guitar. He has reflected on the impact of Hurricane Katrina (“Rain Rain”), on the twisted tragedy of Darfur (“Janjaweed”), on the careless destruction of the Gulf oil spill (“Drill”). He knows how to sing with great tenderness (the subdued, poignant “Before the War”) or with wry firmness (“Anthems of Hope”), balancing elegant melodies with rich strings, purring percussion, bluesy harmonica licks, and funky, funky keys. He hints simultaneously at José González, Merle Haggard, Jimmy Scott, Tracy Chapman, Peter Tosh.

Though long hailed by reggae fans, Weekes defies simple genre formulas. His intuitive, intense songwriting ties together the many threads of his Caribbean heritage and honors his unflagging engagement with the world as a musician, philanthropist, and lecturer.

Weekes grew up tossing country tunes and jazz standards around the family kitchen with his father and siblings, learning how to speak truth to power from local calypso musicians, and watching his Rastafarian brothers take on a violently critical society. The young Weekes was also a DJ at a local radio station, absorbing and playing everything: classical music, hard rock, reggae.

Classic country and calypso were also big on St. Lucia, and both are about telling stories, a vital part of Weekes’ work. “We’re a storytelling people,” muses Weekes. Early calypso singers, as well as reggae performers, were the town criers of their communities, taking stands on local issues and calling out corrupt politicians. At the same time, country songs poured from the radio, and boot-sporting, cowboy hat-wearing music fans on St. Lucia couldn’t get enough of their real-life tales of heartbreak and faith.

Though deeply connected to the musical life of his island home, Weekes came into his artistic own while spending time in New York City, where he eventually gathered a group of musicians from across the Caribbean diaspora to form Adowa (named for the 19th-century battle when Ethiopians beat back an invading Italian army). Adowa has both serious reggae cred and rock-solid musicianship. Weekes and Adowa have played major jazz, rock and global music festivals, like a recent headliner gig in front of nearly 30,000 fans at the Austin Reggae Festival, as well as garner critical acclaim from reggae writers and lovers.

Though well loved in reggae circles, Weekes has evolved his own approach to making music that combines genres and vibes, incorporating sounds from vintage Ethiopian funk jazz to roots rock, from Deep South blues to West African percussion. These diverse elements interweave in Weekes’ intuitive, reflective songwriting, often spurred by a single word or story.

As Weekes & Adowa were finishing up A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen, Weekes was reading a newspaper story about the BP oil spill. “’I stopped the session and told the guys I had a new song,” Weekes recalls. “And I starting laying down the guitar for ‘Drill’ on the spot.” - Deep Roots


"Taj Weekes Delivers on Live Album"

Ever been to a concert where the horns are played on keyboard and the arrangements and harmonies are nothing like that record you love so much. Well, I have. It’s very disappointing.

But I don’t think a concert with St Lucian Taj Weekes and his U.S. backing band Adowa would disappoint me. Not if you judge by their recently released fourth set – a live album titledPariah in Transit.

This ten track set – with a majority of its material taken from the excellent 2008-released effort Deidem – was recorded on tours across North America. It’s dense and dark with a pulsating, rock solid riddim section. Taj Weekes high, heartfelt and weeping singing is accompanied by beautiful harmonies.

Almost all tracks are about a minute longer than the original version and at times the jamming and the mixing is pure gold, for example in the last minute of For Today or Life where you almost feel the tension in the air.

Even though Pariah in Transit documents live recordings not much of the crowd can be heard during each song and it’s mostly in the beginning or the end of a track that you realize that these are live recordings.

The audio quality is exceptional for a live album and the lack of cheering and screaming makesPariah in Transit more of an ordinary compilation. But what a compilation.

Pariah in Transit is now available on CD and digital platforms. Proceeds from the sale of the album will go to Taj Weekes’ children’s charity They Often Cry Outreach. - Reggaemani


"Buzzz Magazine - Pariah in Transit Review"

A portrait of Taj Weekes could begin in any of a hundred ways. Musician, songwriter, poet, humanitarian, Rastaman, businessman, parent – all are important roles for him.
St. Lucia can proudly proclaim Weekes as a native son. Proud as he is of his origins, however, St. Lucia could not contain him long. As he tells it, “My mind always wandered beyond the borders of the 238 square mile island. What I was seeking seemed to be somewhere out there.”

In that broader world, the name Taj Weekes primarily signifies music. Reggae music. Critically acclaimed reggae, as a matter of fact. With his band Adowa, he has recorded three studio albums: ‘Hope & Doubt, Deidem,’ ‘A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen’ and a just-released live album ‘Pariah in Transit’.

As a lyricist, he is oblique enough to be interesting, direct enough to be satisfying. Although roots reggae prides itself on its “reality” lyrics, meaning an unflinching approach to the socially important issues of daily life, Weekes cuts deeper and more precisely than his peers. His themes aren’t expressed through the genre’s usual abstractions and feeble pleas. Rather, they come almost directly from the headlines and what should be headlines. They tell of an atrocity, of a disaster’s human toll, of want and corruption, of innocence and greed. He doesn’t coddle. He confronts his listeners through forceful poetry that’s never crude, but also never compromising. - Buzzz Magazine


"Buzzz Magazine - Pariah in Transit Review"

A portrait of Taj Weekes could begin in any of a hundred ways. Musician, songwriter, poet, humanitarian, Rastaman, businessman, parent – all are important roles for him.
St. Lucia can proudly proclaim Weekes as a native son. Proud as he is of his origins, however, St. Lucia could not contain him long. As he tells it, “My mind always wandered beyond the borders of the 238 square mile island. What I was seeking seemed to be somewhere out there.”

In that broader world, the name Taj Weekes primarily signifies music. Reggae music. Critically acclaimed reggae, as a matter of fact. With his band Adowa, he has recorded three studio albums: ‘Hope & Doubt, Deidem,’ ‘A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen’ and a just-released live album ‘Pariah in Transit’.

As a lyricist, he is oblique enough to be interesting, direct enough to be satisfying. Although roots reggae prides itself on its “reality” lyrics, meaning an unflinching approach to the socially important issues of daily life, Weekes cuts deeper and more precisely than his peers. His themes aren’t expressed through the genre’s usual abstractions and feeble pleas. Rather, they come almost directly from the headlines and what should be headlines. They tell of an atrocity, of a disaster’s human toll, of want and corruption, of innocence and greed. He doesn’t coddle. He confronts his listeners through forceful poetry that’s never crude, but also never compromising. - Buzzz Magazine


"THE BEAT"






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.

- Album Review by: Chuck Foster


"FLAVOUR MAGAZINE - LONDON"










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
- Interview by: Leonard Foster


"TAJ WEEKES & ADOWA"

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)


- METRO SANTA CRUZ


"Hope & Doubt (Alpha Pocket)"

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 - Reggae-review.com


"SEVEN DAYS"


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.

- Vermont's Independent Voice


"Nary a false note"

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.
- Cannelles publication


"BILLBOARD MAGAZINE"





"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




- Written by: Patricia Meschino


"Abundant Reggae Riches"

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.
- Tom Orr/ World Music Central


"Letting the Music Breathe"

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
- Dave Terpeny/Kynd Music


"Taj Weekes & Adowa Hope & Doubt"


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”
(www.tajanadowa.com) - The BEAT


"BILLBOARD MAGAZINE"





"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




- Written by: Patricia Meschino


Discography

Pariah in Transit (2013)
A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen, (2010)
DEIDEM (2008)
Hope & Doubt (2005)

Photos

Bio

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 bands 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 2016
Taj Weekes & Adowa is currently booking dates for their 2016 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
SXSW
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
Riverbend

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.

ACCOLADES

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 thats 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 lifes 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.

Band Members