Donavan I-taweh Cunningham was born in the hills of St. Ann, the same parish in Jamaica where the great Marcus Garvey, Burning Spear, and Bob Marley all rise from. Like most successful artists, he comes from humble beginnings. Raised in the farming community of Prickly Pole, he spent most of his childhood farming alongside his father and four brothers. As a young child, he played music on handmade instruments crafted together from bamboo and sardine tins.
It was the move to Kingston in 1992 that jump-started his musical career. Living between the communities of Mall Road, Grants Pen, Portmore, Rockfort, and Duhaney Park, I-taweh found comfort in the ghetto at the Community Center of The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari.
This was extremely influential for his music and his mission, where he was amongst some of the greatest musicians in the industry including Dizzy Johnny Moore, Earl Chinna Smith, Nambo Robinson, and Bongo Herman. During this time he was rarely seen without his guitar, and was given the nickname Danny Gitz. Along with the name, his skills and reputation as a musician began to grow, until the legendary Sugar Minott took him under his wing as his guitarist and harmony singer.
In 1998, I-taweh became the youngest member of The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, Jamaica’s most influential Nyahbingi, religious and cultural group. With Brother Sam Clayton as the leader, they toured Europe extensively until 2007 presenting traditional Jamaican music and educational workshops.
I-taweh produced and composed his first solo album, Overload, which he released in 2011. He has since gone one to self-produce two more albums, Judgement, which was released in February 2017, and his latest project, Reload, released on January 3rd, 2020. He is currently promoting his new single “One too many” that is denouncing the brutality of police against black people in the World. He composed this tune after the tragedy of George Floyd, happened in USA. The Artist underlines that every human being deserves the same justice and human rights otherwise there will be never any peace without any justice.
1. As many great artists you came from modest origins. Could you explain us how did you approach to your musical journey in the first place?
I started out in a tiny community called Prickly Pole. It’s in St Ann Parrish, Jamaica, just a few miles from the home where Bob Marley grew in Nine Mile. My first real musical approach was playing in the church of my community.
2. Who are your biggest artistic inspirations?
I would say The Wailers and Kenny Rodgers.
3. You’re a Rastaman. Could you tell us something more about the tour u did in Europe in 2007 to educate people to this culture? How it was the feedback here so far?
Yah man. I’m proudly a Rastaman. The tours I did in Europe were very good for me especially because I got the chance to visit new places, to meet new people to share my vibrations and Reggae music with.
4. Your last project ‘Reload’ was released on January 3rd. How was working at this project with your team?
My latest album “Reload” was released in the beginning of this year, was a very good experience for me putting it together, I wanna give thanks to all who was there with me for the ride. This album is I-Taweh’s greatest body of work-to-date.
All songs are composed, written, and produced by myself through my independent label TapNatMuzik.
5. Do the topics inside your albums reflect any of the main dream of your life?
The main dream of my life is to live long and healthy to see the unification of this human race. I tried my best to express this message through my latest album.
6. Do you believe in the power of conscious music as a privileged way to give universal messages then? Why in your opinion is important that younger artists keep some great values of the past?
Yes, I do believe in conscious positive vibes. Since I was a little boy ’till now it’s being a positive uplifting force in my life. Today I’m in a point that hopefully I can reach some young minds and souls with my music.
7. Any Future project as soon as everything will return back to normal?
Well, I am always working on projects, the inspirations keeps flowing which I’m thankful for… so I am constantly in the studio recording new songs. I’ll soon update you.
8. Could you give a special greetings for Gege Vibes Magazine readers?