Rocky Dawuni burst on to the African reggae scene in 1996 with his debut recording, The Movement, an introspective journey into social and spiritual consciousness. Garnering immediate rave reviews, the artist's premiere release spawned two hit singles, and both the "Sugar" and "What Goes Around" tracks obtained massive West African airplay. The Movement's intense media exposure transcended boundaries, leading England's influential New Nation to tout Rocky as "Ghana's Bob Marley" and the seeds were sown for continent's next international music star.
Fast forwarding to early 2005, Rocky just finished putting the finishing touches on his fourth studio album entitled Book of Changes. An inspired showcase for Dawuni's Afro Roots sound, Changes artfully blends elements of Afro Beat, Dub, Reggae, Hip Hop turntablism and traditional African rhythms. After honing his unique stylings in powerful live performances around the world, Rocky's songwriting and impassioned vocals are well displayed in the upcoming disc's break-out tunes "Wake the Town" and "Shashamane." In fact, "Wake the Town" is currently receiving tremendous support on National Public Radio's flagship station - KCRW 89.9 FM in Southern California (www.kcrw.com), the UK's BBC World Service and France's Radio Nova. This attention also resulted in Warner Bros. Television licensing both tracks (pre-release) for NBC-TV's top rated show "ER" which aired to an international audience of millions.
1996 to 2004 found Rocky releasing the aforementioned The Movement in the U.S. to critical acclaim and glowing praise. The Beat described Dawuni's freshman effort as a "thoughtful, spiritual and involved debut recording." Urb Magazine, one of the most popular underground publications in the U.S., named Rocky one of the "Next 100 People to Watch in the Entertainment Industry" and Mesa/Bluemoon Records (an Atlantic Records subsidiary) licensed "What Goes Around" and its video for domestic release on Strictly Underground: Reggae's Next Generation. The video to climb to #3 on the Reggae Video Charts in January 1997 and Rocky Dawuni's music was introduced to U.S. reggae radio.
In spring 1998, AQUARIAN Records/Who Dun It Records released Rocky's sophomore effort, Crusade, written, arranged and produced by the multi-talented artist himself. The album's a sprawling philosophical journey into rhythm and soul with songs of pain, love, revolution and redemption. From the nyabinghi-tinged tropical jam, "Sweet Bright Day," to the hauntingly powerful, "Conqueror," Crusade is Dawuni's quest to promote love, justice and righteousness. "It's about hope in the human spirit and allowing God to empower us to attain the unattainable," he adds.
Crusade's first single, "In Ghana," achieved international hit status on both radio and TV...aided, in part, by the tune's arresting video. Dawuni describes the song as a celebration of 40 years of Ghanaian independence, noting "Ghana is the first black African country to attain that distinction and 'In Ghana' is a personal ode to the individual's continuing search for freedom." Putumayo World Music subsequently licensed "In Ghana" for their Reggae Around the World compilation CD which also includes tracks from Lucky Dube, Burning Spear and Majek Fashek. In the U.S., Crusade received rave reviews from all corners including a four-and-a-half-star review from Reggae Report and high praise from influential Dub Missive which touted, "from beginning to end, it scores a direct hit"
In mid-1999, Rocky began his first U.S. summer festival tour, which culminated with a knockout performance at the Vermont Reggae Festival to a capacity crowd of 35,000. Dawuni also put in extraordinary appearances at the UCLA Jazz/Reggae Festival and Sierra Nevada World Music Festivals and the following year embarked on the Africa Roots 2000 Tour alongside the Ivory Coast's Ishmael Isaac and Senegal's Positive Black Soul. With stops at NYC's SOB's, the House of Blues in Boston, WOMAD USA in Seattle and the prestigious Reggae on the River in Northern California the outing established Rocky as one of the premier live reggae artists. Summer/Fall 2001 and 2002 saw Rocky continue to trek through the U. S., including performances at the prominent Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle, WA, Reggae in the Park in San Francisco, the 1-million fan strong Detroit World Music Festival and the first annual Fairfax World Music Festival in Northern California.
Rocky released his third album Awakening in Ghana in 2001 and the CD continues the committed artist's quest for political and spiritual enlightenment. Rocky sees Awakening as an urgent catalyst for African unity and the disc received acclaim from West Africa Magazine, Billboard, Voice of America and the BBC. "I'll Try," the first single from the album won Rocky his second Ghana Music Award's Best Reggae Song of The Year in 2002, the first having been bestowed to "In Ghana" in 2000. And, continuing to break new ground on all artistic fronts, "I'll Try's" stunning music video was the first ever shown in 35 mm format in Ghana and was shot in the California desert.
In spring 2001, the first "Rocky Dawuni Independence Splash" was created by Rocky and AQUARIAN Productions to honor Ghana's Independence Day. This highly anticipated event was held at Accra's (Ghana's capitol) Labadi Beach on March 6th attracting over 30,000 fans. An overwhelming success, the event has evolved to become Dawuni's annual concert in his homeland. "Splash's" 2002 incarnation's live Ghana TV broadcast reached an estimated10 million viewers and "Independence Splash 2004" was produced in conjunction with Alliance Francaise, the cultural arm of the French government, at their beautiful outdoor amphitheatre in Accra. Rocky foresees "Independence Splash" as becoming the "Sunsplash" of Africa.
Following immediately after "Independence Splash 2004," Rocky put in an outstanding performance opening up for Stevie Wonder at the International Conference Center in Accra. Rocky then performed in Los Angeles on November 11, 2004 to a sold out crowd at Afro Funke' at Zanzibar and Mr Wonder came down to support his fellow musician and jammed with Rocky into the wee hours to stunned and ecstatic crowd!
2005 began with Dawuni being given "Ghana's Cultural Ambassador" award by the US Embassy and the Bokoor Popular African Music Foundation in a colorful ceremony held at the W.E. Du Bois Center in Accra alongside some legends of Ghanaian music. This was followed by the launching of Rocky's new album "Book of Changes" during a legendary performance at "Independence Splash 2005" which was filmed and rebroadcast to a captive audience of approximately 15 million viewers on the Ghanaian Broadcasting Corporation (GTV) in spring 2005.
Devoted as he is to his West African roots, Rocky continues to establish his U.S. presence and was nominated for "Best World Music Artist 2005" by the influential LA Weekly. The publication lauds Dawuni as a "rising young star" with "engaging stage presence" and notes Dawuni is "primed to conquer America."