Be Heard: Guitar Center is celebrating artists, brands and organizations that are using music to raise awareness on critical issues facing us all, to help us heal, to bring us together—to make the world a better place.
Grammy-nominated Afro-roots artist Rocky Dawuni recognized the power of music early. Growing up in Ghana, where music is an integral part of everyday life, he was surrounded by a rich tapestry of melodies and rhythms that resonated deep within him. He knew at a young age that music would be the path he would take in life. “I was attracted to melodies, different types of music, and I discovered I could easily interpret and reinterpret other people’s music I heard on the radio,” Dawuni said. “For me, music is the essence of life … the fundamental language of nature. It’s the true communicative vehicle for the soul.”
At a time when the Ghanaian military ruled the country, Dawuni felt a deep sense of empathy for the people around him. He felt a responsibility to look out for his fellow man and to make sure they were okay. “It became a spark in me,” Dawuni said. “If we can start viewing the world that way, we can create a better world. You are your brother’s keeper. We’re all in this together. As you do for others, so will others do for you.”
“I recognized that music was a medium where you could create an environment of conversation,” Dawuni said. “I wanted to be a musician that used my art form for something meaningful … music that could be a tool for social transformation.”
Today, Dawuni not only tours the world with his uplifting music and messages, he also serves as a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador for the Environment for Africa. Most recently, he started the Rocky Dawuni Foundation to train and empower young leaders to be the igniters of change within their own communities.
“Activism is important because we need to be instruments of what’s going on in our world,” Dawuni said. “We need to have an outlet to articulate our views. We need to have the ability to express our individuality and elevate our voice when we see things in the world we can contribute to. I feel that activism is the power of expression, and that power is the right of everybody. You have to be concerned about what’s going on. You have to participate in what’s happening. Your voice needs to be heard.
“I feel that when I look at the world, there are a lot of people whose voices are stifled—a lot of marginalized communities,” Dawuni said. “There are a lot of issues that need to come to the forefront, but they get lost. I feel activism is a means to draw all of our attention to focus on what is important. As artists, we’re igniters of the flame—we’re catalysts. In doing so, others can be inspired to shine their light and elevate their voice to become instruments of change in their own environment and communities.”
Keep up with Rocky at rockydawuni.com.