For South African singer-songwriter Rowan Stuart, who grew up in the leafy suburbs of the cosmopolitan city of Durban, African rhythm was subconscious and inescapable, and manifested itself even through his earliest writing. Now with 5 albums, and multiple South African tours under his belt, Rowan has refined his signature Alternative Pop sound, and brought it to an ever-growing audience.
Rowan Stuart’s captivating sound conjures thoughts of Ed Sheeran growing up in the land of the Zulu, or John Mayer being raised on Maskandi music and Johnny Clegg albums, though it retains something indefinably and distinctly intrinsic to the South African artist himself.
Inspired by a search for something deeper and more soulful within the landscape of modern pop, his music infuses African and dance rhythms, storytelling, and philosophy, while keeping his signature soothing vocals and tastefully virtuosic guitar playing at the fore.
With his love of fantasy and imagination, Rowan believes songs are like doors – each allowing a glimpse at a different world. This is why his lyrics tell stories of people and places just beyond the edge of reality, and speak of a subconscious need to escape from the complex and harsh modern world, to somewhere more primal and simple. It is this sense of escape and sanctuary that Rowan hopes to create for his listeners through his music.
In 2008, he released his first solo album ‘A Thousand Brand New Places’, and began touring South Africa as a solo artist.
His 5th album, ‘Faraway (Deluxe)’ was released in 2018, and yielded 3 successful radio singles, each of which was play listed on over 20 Southern African stations. Lead single ‘Silver Balloon’ hit the sweet spot with its modern production, yet lyrically, spoke of a fable involving the Earth and the Moon in an eternal dance. ‘Survivors’ depicts a post-apocalyptic landscape where just one true ally can be a rare and priceless treasure. The song achieved chart success on several of the biggest English radio stations in the country, including Algoa FM, OFM and East Coast Radio.
A proudly independent and ‘DIY’ artist, Rowan is self-managed, books his own tours, and even designs his own album and single artwork. He has recently begun directing, co-filming and editing his own music videos. He views every aspect of his career as an extension of his overall vision, which begins as a musical seed.
Rowan has previously collaborated with artists such as Just Jinjer and Gangs Of Ballet, and opened for many of South Africa’s top pop and rock music acts.
In March 2019, Rowan will release a brand new single, and will begin work on his 6th studio album. He hopes to complete his first European tour later in the year.
Quotes From Others
“It’s really beautiful to watch Rowan Stuart experiment with Pop music the way he does on his new album “Faraway (Deluxe)”. I have known him for a while as a friend and incredible musician and I can’t cease to be amazed by his talent. These new songs are captivating, beautifully written and crafted. This is world-class music brewed right here in South Africa. This is a Masterpiece.” – Tresor Riziki, SAMA award-winning, internationally acclaimed artist
“Rowan Stuart is one of the finest young performers we've had come through the doors at Alma and he has steadily built up a loyal and strong fanbase across the peninsula over two years of touring down from his hometown of Durban. His songwriting is sublime, his voice exquisite and guitar playing a masterclass in understated and virtuosic elegance. Seriously folks, this guy has got "it" and I strongly urge you to come and support one of the country's leading talents.” – Richard & Retha Tait, The Alma Café, Cape Town
“For the past fifteen years Rowan has been recognized as one of Durban's finest guitar players, singer-songwriters and hardest touring music acts. He is right at the top of first-call musicians for recording sessions and productions, and is highly respected by all who have had the privilege of seeing or hearing him perform. Rowan is a highly competent guitarist with a keen sense for great guitar sounds and a loaded arsenal of diverse chops to boot, but his true talent lies in his immensely competent ability to craft popular music which receives radio-play across South Africa. Rowan is hard-working, reliable, always on time and also invests great time and effort into young local talent. Rowan is building a great and stable platform for the rest of his exciting music career and is one of my favourite South African musicians.” – Seb Goldswain, award-winning singer-songwriter-guitarist
“Rowan Stuart has appeared at my event, Andy’s Acoustic Forum on several occasions. His shows comprise a powerful combination of high-energy performance and charisma. He presents well-crafted songs, superb guitar skills, and a unique and compelling voice. Our audiences love him. Dealing with Rowan has always been a pleasure. He is the consummate professional, and is consistently courteous and affable. I always look forward to welcoming Rowan back to Andy’s Acoustic Forum.” – Andy McGibbon, Andy’s Acoustic Forum, Johannesburg
“Hidden Doors (2014) is a testimony to Rowan Stuart being a world class songwriter, singer and guitarist. This is his first solo acoustic outing, demonstrating his more sensitive side, employing tasteful fingerstyle, funky rhythms, beautiful solos and a slide break on 'To Deny It' which is goosebump rivetting. Rowan Stuart is an unsung hero and one hopes that with this amazing and well-crafted outing and guitar prowess that he will reach a wider audience.” – Nibs van der Spuy, internationally-acclaimed folk artist
“If I told you that James Taylor, Eric Clapton or BB king was playing at the Pumpkin Theatre in Ballito this week, you would probably be booking tickets right now. . . And although none of these legends is playing at the Pumpkin this week, if you want to feel the magic that made them special, you should book now. If you think that I am exaggerating when I tell you that Rowan Stuart is as good as the legends I’ve described, you’d be wrong. There are good guitarists in the country and there are some super singers. There are even a few good songwriters, but for my money, Rowan Stuart is in a class of his own.” – Dave Charles, editor at Life & Style, radio presenter
Albums: A Thousand Brand New Places (2008) / Soul In A Suitcase (2009) / Light In Cages (2011) / Hidden Doors (2014) / Faraway EP (2017) / Faraway (Deluxe) – March 2018
Singles: Late Starter (2008) – East Coast Radio Top 20 / Survivors (2018) – OFM Top 20, Algoa FM Top 30
Festivals: Splashy Fen, KZN / White Mountain, KZN / The Barleycorn Music Festival, WC / STRAB, Mozambique / Pecanwood Oktoberfest, KZN
Artists Supported: Mango Groove, Freshly Ground, Prime Circle, Matthew Mole, Jeremy Loops, The Graeme Watkins Project, The Parlotones, Dan Patlansky, The Muses, Gangs Of Ballet
Tours: multiple South African tours since 2008
TV Appearances: ETV Sunrise / Expresso / Balcony TV
Radio Appearances: East Coast Radio / SAFM / Radio Today / Mix FM / Algoa FM / Wild Coast FM / MFM / Kovsie FM / OFM / Zone Radio / Life & Style FM / UCT Radio and more