Makeda “Dread" Cheatom is San Diego’s Cultural Ambassador, Founder and Executive Director of WorldBeat Cultural Center in Balboa Park, San Diego, CA. She is also Director of Casa del Tunel in Tijuana, Mexico, a sister center for Arts and Culture for the Tijuana community.
In 1971, she opened the first vegetarian restaurant and international cultural center in San Diego, the world-famous, Prophet Vegetarian Restaurant. Makeda later met Bob Marley and began her music career as a promoter and soon after she established the first live reggae venue, the Adams Ave Theatre in 1984. She is responsible for bringing reggae to San Diego. She has produced legendary reggae artists from Bob Marley to Steel Pulse to Dennis Brown to Peter Tosh to Burning Spear to Greggory Isaacs to Sister Carol and more. In 1984, she established Prophet WorldBeat Productions as a non-profit, and in 1992 she opened WorldBeat Cultural Center, a multi- cultural center and music venue which celebrates all cultures and spreads the message of peace and unity in the San Diego community through music, art, dance and culture.
Makeda uses WorldBeat Center as a means to empower the community with messages of health, sustainability, spirituality, self-healing and culture through technology including live broadcasting using social media, radio and her television show, “WorldBeat Live”. For over 30 years Makeda has hosted her own radio show, Reggae Makossa which aired on 91x FM for over 25 years and now for 8 years has been airing on 102.5FM.
Makeda has also founded WorldBeat Center’s Children’s Ethnobotany Peace Garden which is used as an Outdoor Classroom to bring families outdoors and teach children of the origins of their food and science. The garden’s educational programming has also recently been awarded grants by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Science Foundation. One of the NSF grants she participated was a four year research project, Examining Contextual Factors Influencing the Implementation of Projects Designed to Improve Cultural Diversity in Informal STEM Programming.
Over the years Makeda’s visionand work has been able to bring children of low-income families to the garden and create environmental stewards.
Some of her awards include: Channel 10 Leadership Award, Project Concern International, the Palava Tree for Arts & Culture among others. Makeda has also been inducted into the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame as a Cultural Bridge Builder, was named “San Diego Trailblazer” by the African American Heritage Foundation and has been recognized as one of the 25 most influential women in San Diego's history by San Diego’s 10 News viewers. In 2016 she was awarded the KPBS San Diego Local Hero Award. July 2017 she received the Jan Merrit Leadership Award by San Diego Unified School District TRACE Program, November 2017 she receive the Rastafari Meritorious Award, in Queens, New York and March 2018 Women of the Year Award by CA State 78th Assembly District.
Makeda believes music, art, dance and culture will unite all races, all cultures, and all people across the world.