Artist : Rocky Dawuni
Genre : Reggae
Rocky Dawuni burst on to the African reggae scene in 1996 with the release of his debut recording, The Movement. The artists' introspective journey into social and spiritual consciousness garnered rave reviews in the Ghanaian press and spawned two hit singles, with both "Sugar" and "What Goes Around" obtaining massive Ghanaian airplay. The intense media exposure led to a full page write up in New Nation, one of England’s most influential weeklies, where Rocky was touted as “Ghana’s Bob Marley.”
In the U.S., The Movement received critical acclaim and glowing praise. The Beat described Dawuni's freshman effort as a "thoughtful, spiritual and involved debut recording." Urb Magazine, one of the most popular underground publications in the U.S., named Rocky Dawuni one of the "Next 100 People to Watch in the Entertainment Industry."
Mesa/Bluemoon Records, a subsidiary of Atlantic Records, licensed "What Goes Around" and its' video for release throughout the U.S. on Strictly Underground: Reggae's Next Generation, propelling the video to climb to #3 on the Reggae Video Charts in January 1997 and introducing Rocky's music to U.S. reggae radio.
In spring 1998, AQUARIAN Records / Who Dun It Records released Rocky's sophomore effort, Crusade, written, arranged and produced by Rocky Dawuni. The album is a sprawling philosophical journey into rhythm and soul with songs of pain, spirituality, love, revolution and redemption. From the nyabinghi tinged tropical jam, "Sweet Bright Day," which Dawuni describes as "an invocation of the perfect day when all elements fall into place in our lives," to a hauntingly powerful piece entitled, "Conqueror," which highlights a traditional African kora player, Crusade is Dawuni's musical and spiritual war promoting love, justice and righteousness. "It's about hope in the human spirit and allowing God to empower us to attain the unattainable."
Crusade’s first single, “In Ghana,” achieved international hit status on both radio and TV with the tune’s arresting video. Inspired by Ghana’s 40th Anniversary Celebrations, Dawuni describes the song "as a celebration of 40 years of independence...as the first black African country to attain independence, it's a personal ode to the individual's continuing search for freedom." Putumayo World Music subsequently licensed “In Ghana” for their Reggae Around the World compilation CD that also includes tracks from Lucky Dube, Burning Spear and Majek Fashek. "In Ghana" was voted “Reggae Song of the Year” at the Ghana Music Awards 2000.
In the U.S., Crusade received rave reviews from all corners including a four-and-a-half-star review from Reggae Report. Influential Dub Missive touts “from beginning to end, it scores a direct hit.” Dawuni received intense radio support for the album in the U.S. and Jamaica, as well as on the BBC, National Public Radio (“The World”) and Voice of America.
In the spring of 1999, Rocky began a summer festival tour of the U.S., which culminated with a knockout live performance at the Vermont Reggae Festival to a capacity crowd of 35,000. Rocky also put in extraordinary performances at the UCLA Jazz/Reggae Festival and Sierra Nevada World Music Festival. Rocky then embarked on the Africa Roots 2000 Tour alongside Ismael Isaac from Ivory Coast and Positive Black Soul from Senegal. This tour included stops at SOB’s in New York City, House of Blues in Boston, WOMAD USA in Seattle and the prestigious Reggae on the River in Northern California establishing Rocky as one of the premier live African artists.
Rocky released his third album Awakening in Ghana in 2001. Awakening continues Rocky’s quest for political and spiritual enlightenment. Rocky sees Awakening as an urgent medium to initiate the consciousness of African unity in the spirit of the first President of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
Awakening received rave reviews from West Africa Magazine, Billboard, Voice of America and the BBC. "I'll Try," the first single from the album recently won "Best Reggae Song" at the third annual Ghana Music Awards 2002. "I'll Try" has a stunning 35mm music video, the first ever on this format in Ghana, which was shot in the California desert.
Summer / Fall 2001 and 2002 saw Rocky in the United States doing a series of dates including the prominent Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle, WA and Reggae in the Park in San Francisco, the 1 million person strong Detroit World Music Festival and the first annual Fairfax World Music Festival in Northern California.
Rocky spent the spring of 2003 in his homeland of Ghana for the third annual "Rocky Dawuni Independence Splash" held in honor of Ghana's Independence Day, March 6th. This highly anticipated event was held at Accra’s Labadi Beach on March 6th attracting over 30,000 Rocky Dawuni fans!! Last year's "Independence Splash" took place at the National Theatre in Accra on March 5, 2002 which went live nationally on Ghana TV to an estimated audience of 10 million viewers. Rocky foresees this event as becoming "the premier live music event in Ghana, the Sunsplash of Africa."
Rocky is currently putting finishing touches on his fourth studio album entitled "Book of Changes" which features the song "Wake The Town" showcasing his new signature "Afro Roots" sound blending elements of Afro Beat, Dub, Reggae, and traditional African music. "Wake the Town" is currently receiving tremendous support on KCRW, BBC and Radio Nova!!
Rocky was recently nominated for "Best World Music Artist 2003" by the influential LA Weekly, which lauds Dawuni as a "rising young star" with "engaging stage presence" and notes Dawuni is "primed to conquer America!"
** Listen to Rocky Dawuni live on Chocolate City on KCRW with Garth Trinidad which aired on Friday, November 28, 2001.