International music star and humanitarian activist Rocky Dawuni straddles the boundaries between Africa, the Caribbean and the U.S. to create an appealing sound that unites generations and cultures.
A galvanizing performer, Dawuni has shared the stage with Stevie Wonder, Peter Gabriel, Bono, Jason Mraz, Janelle Monae and John Legend, among many others. Named one of Africa’s Top 10 global stars by CNN, he has showcased his talent at prestigious venues such as The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.
Dawuni will play at Oats Park’s Centennial Stage on June 15 beginning at 7:30 p.m. This free performance arranged by the Churchill Arts Council is presented in cooperation with the mayor, city council and city of Fallon
Despite the isolation of the village and barracks life in his native Ghana, Dawuni was exposed to the music of other cultures after his father, a former military officer, was posted to Egypt with the United Nations forces.
“I was always looking for music,” Dawuni remembers, “Whenever bands played, I would gravitate toward that. There was a band in the barracks called Hot Barrels, and I remember that every time they had rehearsal I would chill at their space and just listen to them play.”
Throughout Dawuni’s childhood, music was always at the forefront of his passions. He began to gravitate toward any music that articulated a message of unity and hope.
He formed his first band, Local Crisis, with a group of friends. Despite the lack of instruments and professional recording equipment, their music gained immediate success on their university campus.
Dawuni eventually met his eventual life partner and manager Cary Sullivan, a photographer and producer from Los Angeles. He wished to grow musically and to make art that could spread beyond the borders of Ghana.
In 1996 he produced his first album, “The Movement,” backed by members of Local Crisis and other Ghanaian reggae stars. “The Movement” became a major success in Ghana with a number of hit singles. In 2010, Dawuni contributed a cover of Bob Marley’s “Sun Is Shining” to the Putumayo album “Tribute to a Reggae Legend.”
Dawuni’s music has been featured in numerous television programs, including ER, Weeds and Dexter. In 2010, Dawuni’s song “African Soccer Fever” was included on the FIFA World Cup South Africa video game from EA Sports, one of many times Dawuni’s songs have been included in EA video games.
In July 2011 he performed at the prestigious Hollywood Bowl with the legendary Stevie Wonder during a night of “Global Soul” and appeared at France’s Les Estivales de la Perriere in August of the same year with Shaggy, Monty Alexander and Diana King where they joined together on a magical rendition of Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry.”
Dawuni’s sixth album, “Branches of the Same Tree,” was released four years ago by the Cumbancha record label and was subsequently nominated for a Grammy for “Best Reggae Album” at the 58th annual awards in 2016. “Branches” continues to bring him an even wider international audience. Reflecting his maturity as an artist, the album highlights Dawuni’s ability to communicate a universal, uplifting message that crosses borders and reaches out to the hearts of millions. Branches features the Afro Dancehall mashup “African Thriller”and its striking accompanying video as well as “Shine A Light” that is a welcome bit of joy in these troubled times.