By CityLife Arts Writer
Pop sensation Rolwlene is releasing her long awaited album, 11:11 this Friday, and her fans her definitely waiting for this release for sometime now, and it will therefore be interesting to note how it is received on the music market.
For over two decades Rowlene has been building her craft painstakingly. Every note and register honed and toned, all the edges polished as she prepared for flight. Now in 2020, she makes a calculated step with the release of her album that is set to shake up the industry.
If it’s not for her creative genius, then it’s for grit and sheer determination.
II feel the music should speak for itself. It took me so long to drop, we have been announcing for the last year and a half and now we are finally here,” she declares triumphantly.
Rowlene says she had become antisocial while working on the music and now she has only two features in the 11 tracks. She wanted her album to be a compilation of a playlist that she could listen to as well as the next person and so the process to curate the songs was meticulous and diligent, perfected over a year.
‘I wanted the thought process to be genuine and a true reflection of myself. I didn’t want to be depicted differently to what you see on my social media. It had to be consistent,’ she says.
On Stop, she worked with a bunch of writers, seven to be precise, from Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. Every word and sentence weighed and carefully fashioned.
Stop is about understanding one’s purpose and role and how indispensable you may be, Rowlene shares. She uses a cellphone charger as a metaphor of reference. ‘I’m tired of being a power source and I’m left empty and seeing how it affects me. It’s a feel good song,” she says.
She explains Stop further: ‘You have to understand your self-worth and act on it. You’re your own biggest resource. The universe will return the frequencies you send out.’
She counts on her emotionally textured voice to deliver the meaning with impact. “Music is so delicate and open to interpretation, but the emotions I evoke will be felt.”
Other singles are Danger, Sunday featuring Manana and Nonzwa Marie, a Canadian born and bred in Nigeria whom she says thinks differently and that’s why she gravitated towards her.
She was born Rowlene Bosman in Elsies River, Cape Town in 1997. The middle child and only girl in the family, she went to Valhalla Primary School and JE Klopper Primary School where she sang soprano in the school choir.
It was at Elsies River High School and in the church choir that she found her voice. She contested in the national choir eisteddfod as a solo. Belting Bohemian Rhapsody as a solo, she secured third place, this without studying music formally. Yet she still saw herself as an academic and her classes in business studies, economics, accounting and biology took precedence. She got accepted in the dentistry class at the University of Western Cape (UWC) where she studied for two years before dropping out.
Music was ever-present in the Bosman household. Rowlene’s father was a DJ, therefore CDs and vinyls were littered in the house and the playlist was an eclectic explosion ranging from gospel, pop, R&B and the biggest voices of the 80s and 90s like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.
It was a drive up to Johannesburg by bus for the singing competition that altered her views.
While the trip was horrendous with the wheel of the bus falling off and what could have been a 13 hour ride taking 23 hours, Rowlene still believed that the City of Gold was the place to be. She loved the pace and how fast things happened in Johannesburg and the four days in the city flew by quickly.
She was still making music and spent a day with a producer, recording three songs in one day. One of the songs is still not released, some nine years later. She was seduced by the idea that she could write a song and somebody else would breathe life into it by singing it, this realisation was a turning point.
In 2015 she finally released a single that she recorded three years prior. It was titled Imposter and it enjoyed airtime on Good Hope FM, where she had built a relationship with the team and did a side hustle that equipped her with knowledge on how the playlist worked.
She dropped more songs on the Soundcloud app, which she says the lyrical content wasn’t as enlightened as she is now. Putting the music her set her on a path to meet Nasty C through a mutual friend. ‘I was doing covers. My friend called me to meet Nasty while they were shooting a music video. I was super uncomfortable with all the people there, so I left and never went back,’ she reminisces. But fate had other plans.
She was unhappy with dentistry at UWC. While she wanted to make her parents proud, they asked her to decide between music and studies. Next she was on her way back to Johannesburg chasing the thrill of the first time.
She had only a backpack because she had planned to return to Cape Town, but that never happened. She met up with Nasty C, under different conditions, and some great music borne out of a perfect synergy with the rapper was recorded including the 2016 hit Phases and SMA.
More collaborations and features followed with the likes of A.Reece, Riky Rick, Gemini Major and Tellaman.
However, Rowlene remained a studio artist, reluctant to perform and going to clubs. But now she has turned the corner and with a burgeoning solo career, she looks forward to taking her music to the people, wherever they may be.
Rowlene remains rooted in community issues and making a difference. Her community youth initiative known as Utopia provides a platform for aspirant artists and performers in Cape Town. She has also participated in events such as the Annual Mayors Golf Day and Woordfees Festival.
Looking over her journey so far, Rowlene is humbled by the gains she has made. ‘As a Coloured girl from Elsies River and the environment in which I grew up, it’s crazy that I am where I am right now. When you listen to the project you will get it. I’m honest. I want people who listen to know that things will happen when you are consistent and remain humble and true to yourself. It comes with ups and downs, but educate yourself. Don’t lose yourself.’