Photos by Rob Strong
International reggae music star, humanitarian activist and Grammy nominee Rocky Dawuni brought a powerhouse voice and warm, generous persona to Hanover when he performed Wednesday afternoon, August 9, as the last of three live performers in this summer’s Free For All series. (One final event is scheduled: a free showing of the classic film Bedknobs and Broomsticks on August 16.)
Timing was everything: the day’s sunny weather turned iffy mid-afternoon as clouds moved in and smart phones predicted showers. Shower it did–but lightly, starting at about 5 pm and stopping shortly after the concert began at 5:30 pm. Blankets were spread, chairs perched, umbrellas collapsed and all ages moved toward the stage to dance and sometimes sing along.
A native of Ghana who sings the music of Jamaica to audiences all over the world, Dawuni bridges between Africa, the Caribbean and the US to create an appealing sound that unites generations and cultures. With an easy-going charisma and reputation as a dedicated champion of social causes, Dawuni’s infectious grooves and dance-inducing anthems have earned fans across the globe. A galvanizing performer, he has shared the stage with Stevie Wonder, Peter Gabriel, Bono, Jason Mraz, Janelle Monae and John Legend, among many others. Named one of Africa’s Top 10 global stars by CNN, he has showcased his talent at prestigious venues such as The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.
In addition to Dawuni, the 2017 Free For All series presented Corey Ledet and His Zydeco Band on July 5 and Cuban dance-music sensation Septeto Santiaguero on July 26.
This is the third summer of the Free For All series, developed to support the Hop’s goal of engaging large numbers of community members, particularly those with little or no exposure to Hop programming. The completely free, family-friendly series features three concerts on the Dartmouth Green and two family-friendly films in Spaulding Auditorium and has been wildly successful. In two years, approximately 7,700 community members have participated in concerts, films, dance classes and workshops. It has become a College/community partnership, with Dartmouth’s Office of the Provost sponsoring the first concert each year. More than 60 percent of series attendees surveyed say they have never—or only occasionally—visited the Hop. Said a concert attendee, it’s “refreshing to have events like this in the area…Doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, [people] just come and be themselves.”