Love, love, love. It really is all you need. That’s what Taj Weekes believes. And love doesn’t know boundaries. It’s the heartbeat of life. It doesn’t matter who you love, just as long as you do love. That’s the message behind “Here I Stand” the first single from Taj Weekes & Adowa’s fifth album, Love, Herb & Reggae, coming in early 2015.
“Love is a human rights issue,” Weekes states. “That’s the important thing. We shouldn’t be defining people by their sexuality. Who’s the one to decide what’s ‘normal,’ anyway? What we need is more love in this world, more diversity. The single is me: I’m stating my position and taking my stand.”
Musically, “Here I Stand” comes as a surprise from someone known as a reggae musician. On this outing the reggae influence is very subtle, behind a tango rhythm and blues-y chord changes that frame Weekes’s passionate vocal delivery
“The reggae is still there,” Weekes explains. “It’s just in a different place. The drums and bass add the flavor. We kept it simple to focus attention on the lyrics. We wanted it to be a track everyone would notice.
Born in St. Lucia in the Caribbean and now living in New York, Weeks knows all too well about the fixed way some people can see others.
“At SXSW two years ago a journalist refused to interview me because she said I was ‘a homophobic rasta,’” Weekes recalls. “She made an assumption and I realized other people make that assumption about all reggae musicians. She did not find out that I do not care who people sleep with. She did not find out that I would rather see two men loving each other than a man beating a woman. You cannot define love so easily for other people.”
A longtime follower of Rastafari, the philosophy of love they put forward has always resonated with him.
“There was a reverence to it,” Weekes remembers. “All I saw and heard was love with them, even when they were being brutalized by the government and the people. They taught me about I and I: the I of the spirit and the I of the physical.”
In his music, Weekes has kept spreading that message of love.
“I love everyone, but for too long I was silent about it. Everyone’s welcome at my table. Who am I to define love? We don’t need to be good for God’s sake, we need to be good for goodness’ sake.”
And that’s the message at the heart of “Here I Stand.” “But what really is the focus/ Shouldn’t the talk be all of love/ Now is it wrong to love another/ Cause it’s not your kind of love.”
“When I started out I just wanted to put a poem over a riddim,” Weekes says. “Now I’ve found my voice. I want to be true to the art form I’ve chosen, whatever comes from it.”
Love without judgment. It’s a message we need today. Singing it, Taj Weekes makes his stand with pride.