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Quick Q&A with Taj Weekes

HONEST: It's our duty as artists to keep the issues before the people, says Taj Weekes

Ahead of his two UK dates, St Lucian reggae singer Taj Weekes spoke to Life & Style about

Life & Style: Where did your main source of inspiration come from for your latest album To All My Relations?
Taj Weekes: The inspiration came from life. Life in and of itself is inspiring. However, you don’t have to look far to see the many situations happening the world over. I just gave a voice to the issues that were banging loudest in my ear and were before my eyes.

L&S: Tell us about how you approached creating this body of work?
TW: With honesty. It’s our duty as artists to keep the issues before the people. I approach every album in the old African storytelling tradition as the town crier, someone has to wake the town and tell the people.

L&S: Your music doesn’t shy away from social issues. What are some of the biggest societal challenges that you believe need addressing now?
TW: Love and empathy or the lack thereof. In all the issues we face as a people – and I’m speaking of people in the sense of the entire world population without walls or borders – our biggest societal issues are the lack of love and empathy.

Do you think reggae artists have a particular responsibility to address such things in their music?

TW: There are lots of issues facing the world but amongst the fighting, greed and inequality someone has to sing about love and the love story to take our minds off our anger and sadness for a minute. Because you can become bitter living in fear and uncertainty. Reggae needs to do a little bit of both but I don’t think the sole responsibility should be on Reggae. Other genres need to carry some weight. It’s the eleventh hour now and we need all hands on deck.

L&S: How did you become fearless when it comes to speaking your mind through your music?
TW: I wouldn’t say I’m fearless, I would say I’m fearful of what tomorrow will be for our children and children of our children if I, or we, don’t take a stand. Someone has to take the lead, we all share the lead sometimes, it’s my turn now. I didn’t get into music for fame or financial gain. I came because I have something to say, not because I just wanted to say something. and I’m doing just that.

L&S: Tell me about the work that you do through your charity They Often Cry Outreach?
TW: The charity was basically set up to help underprivileged and at risk children in the Caribbean. We had a victory this year with the abolition of corporal punishment in schools in St Lucia, which we had been fighting against for a number of years. Kudos to the current administration who listened to the argument and leaned on the side of love over brutality. Maximum thanks to the continuous work of our sister organisation, Rise.

L&S: Your charity work has clearly had a positive impact on others. How has it impacted you personally?
TW: It’s amazing how being able to change lives can bring tears to your eyes. It’s made me so much more aware of the gift of life, it’s beauty and frailty, at the same time it humbles you.

L&S: What’s next for you?
TW: A children’s book this year. Finally, a diabetes documentary after years at it and more music.

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