Exclusive Pre-review of Taj Weekes and Adowa's Pariah In Transit

Taken from United Reggae

by Angus Taylor


"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.

Taj Weekes - Pariah In TransitFans 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.

Pariah in Transit is released on April 9th


Award Winning Reggae Artist Taj Weekes Releases Debut Live Set - "Pariah in Transit" on April 9th

On April 9th, award winning singer/songwriter/guitarist Taj Weekes and his band Adowa will release their fourth CD "Pariah in Transit" on Jatta Records. The album’s 10 tracks represent some of their finest performances over the past two years throughout North America and at St. Lucia’s world-renowned jazz festival in May 2011.

Serving as a vibrant reminder for listeners who have already experienced Taj Weekes & Adowa’s concerts and an unforgettable introduction for those who haven’t, "Pariah In Transit" offers inspired renditions of songs spanning their three albums including audience favorite "Scream Out Mellow" from their debut album "Hope & Doubt;" "Propaganda War," a powerful crusade against the media’s tailored lies from sophomore release "Deidem," honored as the Best Reggae Album at the Just Plain Folks Music Awards in 2008; and the anti-war anthem "Since Cain" and "Rain Rain," an homage to Hurricane Katrina survivors that ranked among many critics best-of lists in 2010 from "A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen."

Music fans irrespective of their geographic location will embrace the wide-ranging issues and eclectic musical elements that make "Pariah In Transit" one of the year’s most important reggae releases. Preserving time-tested Caribbean music traditions in his role as an inspiring troubadour and progressive social activist, Taj’s deeply personal expressions of universal struggles are offered as catalysts for global change.

"Pariah in Transit" opens with Taj singing "An Angry Language" (from "Hope & Doubt"), his reedy vocals lamenting societal brainwashing as he looks to "seek the spaces within my thoughts to unlearn what I’ve been taught." Biased communication is called to task when battling the media’s "Propaganda War" waged with "tailored lies, untutored scores, the truth they hide from we." Taj condemns the endless cycle of global conflict on the Biblically referenced "Since Cain," the urgency of his message propelled by the song’s jaunty tempo: "is there anyone with sense put an end to this violence?
 I kill you, you kill me,
 we’ve got an empty country….since Cain, since Cain slew Abel, misery and pain."

"Jordan" was extemporaneously written and performed at a ski lodge when the venue’s owner requested an extended performance by Taj and Adowa, following the audience’s enthusiastic reaction. "We had run through the entire set so I asked my guitarist if he could hold two chords. He started playing and I started singing "where there is love, there is life, way over Jordan there will be no strife," Taj recalled. "I recorded it on my phone, we listened back to it and said, yeah, we have a song here. Now, anytime we play live, we hold two chords and play Jordan." "Jordan" will be included on Taj’s as of yet untitled forthcoming studio album due in 2014. The rendition featured on "Pariah in Transit," recorded at Toronto’s Beerfest in 2012, concludes with Taj decrying the restrictive laws against marijuana usage, a sentiment that garners resounding support each time the song is performed.

"For Today," from "Deidem," bolsters the force of good rising above evil, irrespective of the circumstances, while "Life" is Taj’s personal testimony to such a victory, written about the numerous struggles he overcame relocating from St. Lucia to Canada, prior to his move to New York City, where he is currently based.

A bubbling drum and bass pattern underscores Taj’s defiance on "Little Fire," stirred by his attempts to surmount music industry hurdles, but the song’s survival sensibility is applicable to any challenge. An indelible reggae groove is woven throughout "We Stand," as Taj’s ever resilient lyrics "though hope is frail, we must prevail," is punctuated by an improvised chant of "stand up" as the song fades into thunderous applause from the audience at the Roots and Blues Festival in Salmon Arm, Canada.

Blues inspired harmonica riffs open "Rain Rain," from "A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen," which chastises leadership for neglecting the victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans; Taj expresses his indignation through a series of powerful poetic images: "The newsreels are all soaked the day the levees broke/since no one’s speaking, the roof’s still leaking/now love’s down to a drizzle, memories how they fizzle/amnesia’s in, they’ve forgotten."

The rendition of "Scream Out Mellow" recorded in Tofino, British Columbia, featuring a jazzy drum solo and crunching rock guitar riffs embellishing a crisp one-drop rhythm, provides a fitting conclusion for "Pariah In Transit’s" sonic odyssey with Taj’s ethereal high register often belying the might of his lyrics. "Someone once told me that I was saying something very loudly but I wasn’t raising my voice. I was screaming out, mellow. The world turns, and I am telling you to pay attention, but I am bringing you the message in a soft voice. My mother used to say if someone is trying to make a point and all they do is yell, all you will remember is that they were yelling. But if I make that point softly, and you get it, then you are going to remember the message I was trying to convey."

Taj’s activism isn’t confined to his song lyrics. His philanthropic efforts throughout the Caribbean on behalf of his organization TOCO (They Cry Often Outreach) have earned him Goodwill Ambassador status by The International Consortium of Caribbean Professionals (ICCP) as well as the St. Lucia House Foundation’s "Distinguished Humanitarian Award." A portion of the sales proceeds from "Pariah in Transit" will be donated to TOCO to facilitate further educational programs focusing on an array of maladies currently facing the Caribbean including the rise in HIV/AIDS, the effects of global warming, inflation, food shortages and rampant poverty as manifested in an escalating crime rate.


TAJ WEEKES: Radically Roots

Taken from KDHX


Taj Weekes in Paris in 2011 - photo courtesy of the artist

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.”


photo courtesy of

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Taken from Carribean Transit 


‘Let your vibes be high and your message mighty.’  These are the words of singer-songwriter Taj Weekes. Born in 1969, Weekes has created a record label; provides lead vocals, rhythm and acoustic guitar for his band Taj Weekes and Adowa; produced three critically acclaimed albums; written a wealth of poetry and founded a not-for-profit charity that works tirelessly in the Caribbean.

Taj Weekes was born and raised in St. Lucia; an island nestled between Barbados, Martinique and St. Vincent, home to several successful artists. Weekes was the youngest of ten children in an artistically centred family. He began singing in church at the age of five and just four years later formed a band with his brothers; performing in local talent shows in St. Lucia. Music was ever-present in the Weekes’ family household, ‘There was always singing somewhere, if my dad wasn’t singing, then my sister was and my brother was.’ Weekes adds that the children used to line up in the living room and sing to their parents (Taj Weekes, Essence of an Artist, YouTube). It was a somewhat idyllic childhood, with the Caribbean landscapes, flora and fauna, playing a large part in that: ‘Island life for me was absolutely wonderful [...] A never ending summer, beaches at my disposal, fresh fruits and vegetables and unlimited freedom to play football, cricket, fly my kite (Interview with L. Haynes, February 2012).

As often is the case with small-island artists, Taj Weekes felt confined by the borders of St. Lucia and this feeling prompted his departure to North America: ‘I needed to experience a world beyond 238 square miles’ Weekes continues, ‘I had travelled inter-island as a child but apart from the lay of the land, the islands were basically the same’  For Weekes, the transition from St. Lucia to North America was not a shock to the system, he adds, ‘to a teenage mind nothing is really a shocker, at least not to my teenage mind’ (Interview with L. Haynes, February 2012). It was in North America that Weekes formed his band Taj Weekes and Adowa as well as the record label Jatta Records. The band was formed in 2004 and consists of six other members from all over the Caribbean; something that Weekes says gives the group a unique twist: ‘Everybody kind of bring their little vibe into it’ (Taj Weekes, Essence of an Artist, YouTube).

Taj Weekes and Adowa have had three albums to date, gaining critical acclaim across the globe. The debut album Hope and Doubtimmediately set the band apart from other reggae artists on the scene. Garage Band said that the album ‘shines like a beacon among the gray of contemporary reggae’. Music Shopper deemed Hope and Doubt as ‘honest, positive, reflective, realistic and rich’. With the groundbreaking first album comes the daunting task of producing another equally successful follow-up album. This seemed effortless for Taj Weekes and Adowa. Their second album Deidem was listed as one of the ‘Ten Great Albums by Non-Marleys’ by the Houston Chronicle. The band went from strength to strength and 2010 saw the release of A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen, the title of which is a reference to the severe floods that devastated parts of Louisiana because of Hurricane Katrina. Naming this album after a major disaster is illustrative of Weekes’ urge to bring to the fore current events. As the singer has said, ‘I write from the heart and I speak about issues that move me’ and ‘Life is enough influence.’ Garage Band commented accordingly, stating that Taj Weekes was more about ‘inspiring people to think about the world around them’. On A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen, for example, there are tracks about prevailing violence, the glorification of war, the power of Mother Nature and destruction at the hands of natural disasters. ‘Janjaweed’, the band’s most recently released single, commemorates the birth of Southern Sudan. The song’s title, of course, is a term used to describe the armed militias in South Sudan, responsible for mass violence and corruption. In the official video for ‘Janjaweed’, Taj Weekes and Adowa use first class animation to put a metaphorical spin on the subject matter. Here, the Janjaweed is symbolised by a malignant seed, which infests the land, spreading like an uncontrollable disease.

Weekes was always conscious of doing his own thing as a singer songwriter though he is open about his influences and cites Caribbean icons like Lord Kitchener and the Mighty Sparrow: ‘They were like town criers telling the stories of the day’, which is something that Weekes sees himself as doing, ‘We tell the stories of the day [...] awake the town and tell them mentally [...] in our time we are bombarded with so much information that the critical information gets lost in the muddle (Interview L. Haynes, February 2012). Weekes’ musical upbringing had a lasting impression on him and his output:  ‘We got a really good musical education in St. Lucia’, he states, ‘because of the unformatted radio stations’. This meant that Weekes was exposed to a huge range of music including country, classical, rock and reggae. Although Taj Weekes and Adowa are classified as a reggae band, Weekes is reluctant to consider himself as a reggae artist, stating ‘I consider myself more a singer songwriter, music is music to me, whatever genre will carry the message across’ (Taj Weekes, Essence of an Artist).  Weekes’ song ‘Against the Machine’ features on Occupy This Album, alongside Yoko Ono and Tom Morello. This album supports the Occupy Wall Street Movement; something that Weekes feels strongly about, having taken part in the occupation with thousands of other supporters.

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Domestic Violence placed on The Clothesline! by Elijah Anatole | March 19, 2012

 Bill Mortley


The Clothesline Project returned for its third year at the Derek Walcott Square last Tuesday in celebration of International Women’s Day 2012. The project was organized by TOCO and PROSAF together with the Division of Gender Relations and hosted by HTS/Radio100.  They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO) is a 501(c)(3) US based not-for-profit organization founded by St Lucian artiste Taj Weekes and is dedicated to improving the lives of underprivileged, at-risk and orphaned children in the Caribbean through sports, health and enrichment programs.
The clothesline project is an exhibition of poignant messages penned by family and friends of people who have died and whose lives have been profoundly affected by the scourge of domestic violence. It also highlighted testimonials from women and girls who have and others who are facing domestic and other forms of violence.
The messages were displayed on t-shirts and the activity also provided counseling and answers to people who were currently in an abusive situation.  Taj Weekes explained to the STAR what the project is really about and how it has brought a positive change in the lives of women in St Lucia.  “It serves two purposes —it gives them an out and it also encourages other women to do the same. It is helpful because people see their story and what they are going through—they tend to shed tears or seek counsel in an effort to get help and get out of their abusive situation,” said Weekes. The recipient of the St Lucia House Foundation’s Humanitarian Award said he was touched when he saw women break down in tears after reading a few messages on the t-shirts. Weeks explained the t-shirts were all bought by himself and “the idea really, is to get persons to write their stories, their messages on the t-shirts. Hopefully next year, participants will bring their own t-shirts to continue hosting the event that is expected to touch and change lives in St Lucia.”  Velika Lawrence, a member of Positive Reactions Over Secrets and Fear (PROSAF) says one of the goals of the project is to address the issue of sexual abuse in St Lucia. She noted that suitable resources need to be in place to help the many women and girls who are affected “whether it is secretly or openly and there are many cases that are not heard of in public where young girls and women are sexually assaulted.”  She further stated that her organization exists to help the many forms of abuse that affect the lives of women every day.  “We live in a society where some of these incidents are kept hush-hush; we are not expected to talk about it, it is always a surprise thing and the clothesline project is happening at a time when a woman was recently murdered along with her infant. This was reported but how many go unreported; how many are covered to protect offenders of these crimes?” Meanwhile, Minister of Gender Relations, Alvina Reynolds has strongly condemned the recent brutal murder of a teenage mother and her one year old daughter. Reynolds says she was deeply saddened by the tragic incident and called on all members of the society to strongly denounce violence against women. She made the pronouncement during the annual clothesline project which was held at the Derek Walcott Square. The Minister further added that the financial and social impact of violence in the society is a major burden. She says persons need to work together to help fight and reduce the incidence of domestic violence against women.  The Minister for Gender relations indicated that women on the island are still plagued by poverty, unemployment and abuse and inequality.  The clothesline project began on Tuesday and ended yesterday with counseling sessions for abused women and even HIV rapid testing. It featured formal addresses by prominent women and celebrities and saw visits by a number of schools from Castries and surroundings.


Taj Weekes receives "Distinguished Humanitarian Award"

Taken from Caribbean Life

Taj receiving award at gala ceremony, with Minister of External Affairs and St. Lucian Ambassador

The legendary St. Lucian artiste and philanthropist Taj Weekes has been selected for the St. Lucia House Foundation’s Humanitarian Award for his selflessness and dedicated humanitarian efforts.

Weekes will receive this prestigious award at the 33rd Anniversary of Independence Gala scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 25 at the Grand Prospect Hall, located at 263 Prospect Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.

A release from the Foundation states that it is honored to recognize Weekes, who is one of island’s most creative musical artistes. He has inspired many through his artistic and humanitarian endeavors.

In 2007, Weekes founded a charity—They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO)—aimed at improving the lives of underprivileged Caribbean children through a variety of sports, health, and enrichment programs.

Weekes was named a Goodwill Ambassador by the International Consortium of Caribbean Professionals and recognized by a division of the United Nations. Through his music, Weekes addresses several crucial issues, including global warming, casualties of war, domestic and youth violence, diabetes and health, poverty, and the welfare of children.

In 2011, the internationally celebrated artiste returned home to participate in the World-Renowned Saint Lucia Jazz Festival for the first time. Later that year, TOCO collected generous donations of balls, uniforms, shoes, socks, and gear, as well as money to fund its mission trips. TOCO also collected 5000 shoe donations from various elementary schools. The shoes were sent to Haiti as earthquake recovery aid. In addition to their annual collection of soccer equipment, TOCO has expanded its program to include an annual toy drive and educational workshops.

In December 2011, Weekes returned to St. Lucia to launch TOCO’s First Annual Holiday Toy Drive, distributing toys to children in need and feeding the elderly at community center in Castries, Saint Lucia. In 2012, TOCO plans to expand to other Caribbean islands, with stops in Trinidad, Tobago, and Haiti; the group also plans a lecture tour targeting high schools and colleges across the Caribbean.

The upcoming Independence Gala marks the end of activities in New York to celebrate St. Lucia’s 33rd Anniversary of Independence from Great Britain. The activities were organized by the Saint Lucia House Foundation, an umbrella group of St. Lucian organizations based in New York City, Connecticut, and New Jersey in collaboration with the St. Lucia Consulate General in New York.


TOCO Soccer Ball Donation Taj Weekes in Trinidad



Port-Of-Spain, Trinidad – Jan 29, 2012

Taj Weekes along with Shirley Menard of (TOCO)  “They Often Cry Outreach”   foundation collaborates with ASK Promotions to donate 100 full football kits, balls and training equipment to the children of Trinidad.

Taj Weekes is a reggae singer and is 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, enrichment, educational and wellness programs. As a Goodwill Ambassador, Weekes addresses issues such as global warming, casualties of war, domestic and youth violence, diabetes and health, poverty and the welfare of children through both his music and TOCO, his charity.
Over 100 children in the Carenage and Maloney areas were beneficiaries of this year’s donation (football uniforms, tugs, cones, balls, and other gear) by the TOCO foundation - under the tutelage of their coaches Angus Eve (Carenage) and Vaughn Joseph (Maloney).

ASK Promotions is involved in the business of artist management and record production. It was through their collaborative efforts that this distribution drive was spearheaded. This took place in the form of a friendly match between the two teams on Sunday 29 January 2012 at the Carenage Recreational Ground, Haig Street Carenage from 10 am. - Followed by a mini concert featuring Janique Charles, Llettesha Sylvester, Russell Leonce and TOCO founder Taj Weekes. This initiative will be an annual event as the TOCO foundation and ASK Promotions seek to bring hope for children in at-risk communities, through sport and music.
Special thanks go out to the Ministry of Sports, Ministry of Community Development, NLCB, and Bare Fruit for making this event a very successful one.

Member of Parliament Alicia Hospedales from the Arouca/Maloney Constituency, Diego Martin West Councillor Enroy Slater and Ministry of Sports officials were on hand to endorse the event.

During their stay in Trinidad Taj Weekes and Shirley Menard also met with Director of Sports Dave Bobb to discuss the potential awarding of 10 full football scholarships to young footballers in Trinidad and Tobago who meet academic criteria. This football showcasing is carded to take place in the summer. For more information on the football scholarships, coaches can contact ASK Promotions at 868.341.7896 or [E] xxx


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Taj Weekes to feature on 'Occupy this Album'

Taken From Rolling Stone


Occupy Wall Street Album to Feature Tom Morello, Crosby & Nash, Yoko Ono

Proceeds from 'Occupy This Album' will benefit movement

By Rolling Stone
January 23, 2012 4:55 PM ET
occupy this album
'Occupy This Album'
Artwork by Robert Grossman

Occupy Wall Street now has an A-list soundtrack: the compilation Occupy This Album, which was announced today and will be released sometime this spring. The record will feature music from Debbie Harry, Jackson Browne, Yoko Ono, Third Eye Blind, Crosby and Nash and many more. Several of the contributors, including Joan Baez and Crosby and Nash, performed at the New York OWS site while it was still active.

Proceeds from Occupy This Album will benefit the Occupy movement, which has flourished from an initial staging in New York into an international grassroots effort. According to the  press release, "all proceeds received from the sale of this work will go directly to the Occupy movement. . . The cause can now be found in 951 cities in 83 countries including Europe, North America, South America, Asia and Africa."

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Reggae France Interviews Taj Weekes

Taken from Reggae France 

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