Bovine Ska and Rocksteady 11/18/14: Roman Stewart

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Roman Stewart Never Too Young To Learn

Great rhythm and vocals of “Never Too Young To Learn”

After a whirlwind of a fundraising show, we wanted to present a very special thank you show for all who donated and all who tune in each week to the Bovine Ska and Rocksteady.

We grabbed some great tracks, which have never been played on the BSR, to share with you this past week including “Everybody Rocking,” a sensational rocksteady from Hopeton Lewis and an excellent cover of The Beatles’ “Rain,” courtesy of Tomorrow’s Children.

To mix up the format of the show, we also played a full set of Jamaican soul tracks, including “Today” by Boris Gardiner, a too cool soul track perfect before a brand new spotlight of rare tracks from the reggae artist Roman Stewart (a.k.a Mr. Special).

Known for his later tracks, particularly “Rice and Peas,” Roman Stewart recorded some phenomenal reggae songs in the early to mid 70s.

As the younger brother of Tinga Stewart, songwriter and singer who saw popularity in Jamaica in the mid-70s, Roman Stewart had a parallel successful career to that of his brother’s. Born in 1957, Roman began singing at a very young age. As a young boy, Roman would sing with Freddie MacGregor by cruise ship docks to perform for the tourists as they arrived and left Jamaica. Like his childhood singing partner Freddie, Roman also began recording at a very young age, releasing his first track, “Walking Down the Street”, as an eleven year old for George Murphy and his Tennors label.

After his first single, four years passed until Roman Stewart emerged as a solo recording artist. In the early 1970s, he would record for a range of producers, ranging from Derrick Harriot to Glen Brown to Augustus Clarke, not quite scoring a hit with any of them, but certainly showcasing his vocal talent. But, in 1974, Roman would gain much more popularity with “Hooray Festival,” a song penned by his brother Tinga, and the track that won that year’s Festival Song Contest. Until 1976, Roman would continue recording in Jamaica, recording Phil Pratt, Leonard Chin, and even taking a try at producing his own work.

In 1976, Roman moved to New York, where he would live until he passed away far too young from heart failure in 2004. During his time in New York, Roman would gain the nickname “Mr. Special” from his great stage presence but also his amiable nature off of the stage.

We were delighted to present the spotlight on Roman Stewart. Listen to this past week’s show HERE.

The archive will be available until 12/1/2014. Enjoy!

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