MEET TAJ WEEKES - MUSICIAN, POET, AND HUMANITARIAN.
By Debra Fowler
During Taj Weekes & Adowa’s performance at the Lowell Folk Festival last Saturday, I felt compelled to stop dancing and focus my full attention on the lyrics in “Big Pharma”, “Propaganda War”, “What Do You Believe In”, and more. I didn’t stop dancing (because that is impossible for me) but definitely heard the poetic messages.
After the show, our group lingered (which we are prone to do) which led to the fortuitous opportunity to speak with Taj. When I introduced my wife, Taj was compelled to share the following story with us.
A while back, a reporter refused to interview Taj because she surmised Taj is homophobic. Taj told us he had called his son and shared why this reporter refused to interview him, to which his son asked, "What does homophobic mean?" Taj explained homophobic to his son, and then, Taj said, "My son asked me what I was going to do about it."
Taj told us about the pervasive assumption that reggae artists and reggae music promote homophobia - and that he had a responsibility to do something about it (as his son knew he would). He shared a few lines from a song he wrote "to do something about it" and told us it was one of the songs they would be performing the following day (Sunday). We had family plans and couldn't be there, but on Sunday evening I spent some time in the rabbit holes of research to learn more about Taj Weekes & Adowa. (You can read a few fun facts below - and one is an important historical note!)
On Monday, I reached out to Taj via social media and asked about "the" song (I didn't know the title) and requested permission for History UnErased to share this story - and the music - with all of you. I received a quick response and information about "the" song.
Here it is - and Taj has approved this message!
Taj created "Here I Stand" to help bridge the LGBT+ community and reggae community and to help correct the misguided assumptions about reggae artists. "Here I Stand" anchors Taj Weekes & Adowa's critically acclaimed 5th album, "Love, Herb, and Reggae." (Click the image to watch the video. AND, you may be inspired to dance while listening to the poetic message.)
While researching Taj Weekes & Adowa I learned some intriguing information. The name Adowa "salutes the Battle of Adowa in 1896, which ensured sovereignty for Ethiopia and proved crucial in the advancement of African independence and pride." I also learned that Taj is a UNICEF Champion for Children in St. Lucia for his work with TOCO (They Often Cry Outreach), an organization Taj co-founded to improve the lives of underprivileged, at-risk, and orphaned children in the Caribbean.
“It is our duty as artists to keep the issues before the people. I approach every album in the old African storytelling tradition as the town crier, someone has to wake the town and tell the people.” - Taj Weekes
Taj Weekes & Andowa is an international humanitarian effort, and their pedagogy is reggae and poetry. LEARN MORE