Reggae artist spreads social awareness to UD

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By: Erin Callahan – Staff Writer

“Reggae tells, more than any other form of music, the story of the fight of the common man,” said reggae activist Taj Weekes. “It shines a light on the dawn of a new day.”

Weekes uses both song and soul to encourage global change. Tonight, at 8 p.m. he will be performing his World Rhythms concert in the University of Dayton’s Kennedy Union Boll Theatre to spread the essence of social consciousness as a part of the university’s Arts Series.

Weekes grew up in the 1970s and had his own radio show at 13 years old, during a time he described as “the cross section of everything musical.”

Growing up with these diverse musical influences in a large, loving family of 12, Weekes said spreading positive energy has become the main focus of both his music and his service.

“The feeling of camaraderie, the love, the affection and the energy, is something I think that everybody should have,” Weekes said. “I want to give it to people who don’t have it.”

Weekes said he hopes he can always bring enough positivity to his concerts that it will wash away any negativity that someone had arrived with – and off the stage is no exception.

Through the They Often Cry Outreach, founded by Weekes in 2007, support is provided for children in need through sports programs, domestic abuse programs and diabetes awareness in his native Caribbean islands.

As an artist in a popular music genre and with his involvement in social activism, Weekes’ message stood out to UD’s Arts Series coordinator, Eileen Carr. In honor of the university’s commitment to world traditions, she said Weekes had the substance she was looking for.

After 50 years of bringing professional artists, musicians and speakers to campus through the Arts Series, Carr said it has become a great platform for other cultural traditions. Likewise, Carr said Weekes uses his music as a platform for a good message, and that he’s someone the Arts Series “could totally stand behind.”

“I think he really resonates with what we’re about here at UD,” Carr said. “All of our departments try to tie what we’re learning into making a difference in the world, and I think he’s trying to make a difference in the world as well.”

Weekes said he feels that he’s doing the right thing by participating in the series, and he appreciates being a part of this program where everyone is working towards the same goal of social consciousness: to make a change and to make life a little easier for someone else.

“We’re all trying to reach out to people and bring something positive,” Weekes said. “People are people. At the end of the day, everyone just wants to love and feel love.”

Taj and his ensemble, Adowa, will perform in Boll Theater tonight at 8 p.m. Open to the public, the cost is $20 for general admission, $15 for UD faculty, staff and alumni, and $10 for youth and UD students.

For more information, visit udayton.edu/artssciences/artsseries/index.php or contact Eileen Carr, Arts Series coordinator, at (937) 229-2787.