Ghanaian star Rocky Dawuni recently released his new single/music video, "Shade Tree," presaging his upcoming album.
Raised by a traveling cook for UN Peacekeepers around Africa and the Middle East, Dawuni found stability in music during his semi-nomadic childhood. Everywhere he went, he soaked up the musical stylings of the locals, prompting him to discover the diverse musical roots within his own country upon return.
Forming his first music group with makeshift instruments, it didn't take long for Dawuni to get noticed. His unique blend of sounds from reggae, Afropop, funk, and soul stands out. His skill and versatility have allowed him to share the stage with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Peter Gabriel, Bono, Jason Mraz, and Janelle Monae.
Meanwhile, his personality and global perspective landed him the titles of UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Environment for Africa, and Global Ambassador to the World Day of African and Afrodescendant Culture.
His 2016 album, Branches of the Same Tree, received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Reggae Album and he has gone on to receive two more GRAMMY nods for Best Global Music Album and Best Global Music Performance for subsequent releases.
CelebMix caught up with Rocky Dawuni to find out why he makes music, his favorite time to create, and the role of artists in today's world.
What three things can't you live without?
My Bible, my guitar, and love.
Why do you make music?
I make music because music is the language of the soul of the world. I feel that there is a need to constantly nurture a sense of unified humanity and inspire people to rise beyond their individual selves to something bigger that is steeped in our collective responsibility to each other.
Where are you from and how does that affect your sound?
I am from Ghana, West Africa, particularly from Bunbon, which is in Northern Ghana. It is a traditional indigenous community. My older brother, Chief Wumbe, is the chief of the village. My sound is steeped in trying to highlight indigenous and traditional music in a contemporary and global sense.
Which musicians/singers influenced your sound?
Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Isaac Hayes, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Cessaria Evora, Minnie Ripperton and so many more.
You have a new album releasing next year. What can you share about it?
The new album is going to be an expression of my signature 'Afro Roots' and its diversity. I believe it will be a definitive album that reflects the next level of my creativity. It will be danceable and inspirational at the same time.
How did you get started in music?
I got started in music while singing on the farm at a young age. I love being in nature, which always inspires me.
Where do you find inspiration? In art, film, poetry?
I find inspiration everywhere - in people, nature, and in God.
When is your favorite time of day to create? Or is it whenever your muse impels you?
My favorite time of day to create is at dawn when everything is at peace and a new day is about to be born. There are also times of spontaneous inspiration which I call downloads from the universe.
What role does the artist have in society?
Artists are supposed to articulate the deepest intention of society. They are there to help elevate our spiritual connection that lies among people and ultimately to become true architects of harmony. Therefore, this should be reflected in the choice of content that they express and project.
Name three artists you'd like to be compared to.
I would love to be compared to people who have dedicated their lives and work to uphold the greater good that lies in all of us. I hope that one day my works will be worthy of that comparison. In that regard, there are many artists, thinkers, and leaders that I admire including Marcus Garvey, Haile Selassie, and Kwame Nkrumah.
What is your definition of success?
I see success itself not as a destination but as part of the process. If my music is able to incite a deep state of awareness and consciousness in my audience, then I have achieved my primary objective.