The Reggae Legend, Roman Stewart

Brothers Make Reggae Music For Over 40 Years

Tinga and Roman Stewart are Jamaican brothers that entertained with Reggae music from the 1960s to the early 2000s, a period of nearly 40 years.

Roman was the younger brother, but followed his big brother into music at just age 11 in 1968. His career started later in life than did either Michael Jackson's (age 5 or 6) or Sammy Davis Jr.'s (age 5), but he made a big impression in Reggae circles and music in general.

Roman Stewart

May 11, 1957 to January 25, 2004.

Rice and Peas, Popular Traditional Song

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Kingston, JamaicaA House In Jamaica
Kingston, Jamaica
Kingston, Jamaica | Source
A House In Jamaica
A House In Jamaica | Source

Reggae Movement in the 1970s and 1980s

Reggae did not win popularity in my community until the 1970s - 1980s, but Reggae singers and musicians began to be featured at small clubs and The Ohio Sate Fair in my county. In the 1970s, popularity of the style caught on with larger club managers that began booking talent.

Roman Stewart moved from Jamaica with Tinga in 1976 to New York City and developed a career by offering friendliness and polite manners. People liked him.

Frequently visiting record shops just to spend time and talk, he cut some records through the relationships he made there. He also was not against singing for free at parties of his friends and new people he met. He was a generous person with good manners and a friendly personality. It is well known in music circles that for this he was nicknamed Mr. Special.

Reggae legend Bob Marley's Museum stands at 56 Hope Road, Kingston 6 Jamaica
Reggae legend Bob Marley's Museum stands at 56 Hope Road, Kingston 6 Jamaica | Source

Early Success of the Stewart Brothers

Tinga Stewart, who was born Neville Stewart in 1955, is still living and active in music at this time. He has won numerous music contests. Thus, he is is writing, recording and producing albums even now. Very popular, Tinga has amassed growing numbers of fans in both Jamaica and the USA.

Tinga and brother Roman attended St. Aloysius and Trench Town Comprehensive Schools in Jamaica. Tinga first began singing professionally at only age 15 in 1960 and became the lead singer for the Boris Gardner Happening from 1971 - 1974. He was quite good and showed much talent early on.

The final year of the collaboration with Gardner saw him win the Jamaica Festival Song Competition for the first of three times at age 29. He later won a second time as a singer and a third time as a song writer, landing a contract for an album almost simultaneously.

Brother Roman also won the competition in first place once as a singer in 1975 with a song written by Tinga - Hooray Festival. Both brothers were talented.

Influence of Mario Lanza

Roman Stewart's Early Influences: Mario Lanza

Mario Lanza, an important early influence on the music of Roman Stewart.
Mario Lanza, an important early influence on the music of Roman Stewart. | Source

Interestingly, Roman, born in 1957, was a Mario Lanza Tribute Artist in the early 1970s. notably at Victoria Pier in Kingston, Jamaica.

Listeners at the very popular pier venue quite enjoyed his performances of Mario Lanza numbers. Unfortunately, Lanza died in 1959 and never heard Roman's tribute performances. Some of the favorite Lanza numbers for Roman to perform were Be My Love and other love songs.

Victoria Pier, 1970

Source

Performing at the Pier

Different love songs from Lanza's also appeared in Roman Stewart's albums, but Lanza was a large influence. Mario Lanza influenced not only future opera tenors, but this great Reggae star as well.

The range of musical styles that the Stewart Brothers performed together was unexpected. Not only did they handle Reggae with aplomb, but they were just as effective with songs of the Gospel (Peace In the Valley) and even Country-related songs, Wolverton Mountain being a memorable one.

Both men were quite handsome and drew large crowds of both men and women to their performances. They were well liked by many people in America and Jamaica and other parts of the world.

Historic Victoria Pier, Ocean Boulevard

A markerVictoria Pier, Ocean Blvd., Kingston Jamaica -
Ocean Blvd, Kingston, Jamaica
[get directions]

First Recording, 1968: Walking Down the Street

Roman's Death:Two Songs at a Party

Roman Stewart was actively performing through the years until the night of his death in 2004. There were no warning signs or physical symptoms prior to this night.

On January 25, Roman had been attending a Freddie McGregor (from Victoria Pier days) concert in NYC. When the concert was completed, Roan attended a party afterwards. There, he sang two songs, and stopped singing, because of chest pains. Later that evening, he simply fell into a coma. He had suffered some sort of event that led to cardiac event.

Heart surgery was performed for Roman and he is said to have awoken afterwards and spoken of quitting alcohol and drugs. However, he entered another coma from which he did not awaken. On January 26, 2004 he died in Long Island Jewish Hospital of heart failure at age 46. His brother Tinga continues to work in the music industry.

References for this Article:

  • Album covers: Tinga and Roman Stewart. Break Down the Barrier; Brother to Brother.
  • Barrow, Steve & Dalton, Peter. The Rough Guide to Reggae, 3rd Edition. Rough Guides. 2004.
  • Walters, Basil. Roman 'Hit Song' Stewart Is Dead. Jamaican Observer. January 27, 2004.

Man of Dignity

Albums by Roman Stewart

Album Title 
Record Label 
Year of Release 
 
 
 
Running Away From Love 
Island In the Sun 
1978
How Can I Love Someone
LP Productions
1979
Ruling and Controlling
Park Heights
1987
Diplomat (new release on Controlling, TP, 2001)
Super Power 
1991
Brother to Brother
Emperor Records 
June 6, 1998 
Break Down the Barrier
JamHill
unknown
Wisdom of Solomon
Gussie P
2001

Sing a Hit Song

More by this Author


Comments 7 comments

FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

I'm not familiar with Roman Stewart, despite being interested in a wide variety of genres and eras of music. However, I'm quite familiar with Mario Lanza and his singing in the movies.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

I can envision Roman singing Mario Lanza numbers as a teenager - O Sole Mio, Be My Love, and others. Freddie McGregor would pass the hat after Roman sang. Roman must have been quite a personable young man; I'm sorry so many fall into substance abuse.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica

As a Jamaican I am proud to read this and must commend you Patty on your accuracy. We love Tinga Stewart but most of us are not too familiar with Roman. Most people might remember him as "Mr. Special" or "Romeo"....Jamaicans like nicknames and tend to remember them more easily.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

Hi Cardisa - I'm glad you stopped by with your post. We can hear their recordings sometimes on Reggae stations now in Ohio, but hearing them in Jamaica in their early endeavors would have been great!

I see Tinga sings with someone kown as Mr. Ninja and I don't know anything about that gentleman.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica

Ninja Man is a Dance Hall artist that used to be very popular in the 80s. He is also a known felon who is now in prison for murder. I think they did a couple of songs together, but recently artists like Tinga has been keeping far from the likes of Ninja. He is also a drug user.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

That's why I couldn't find a recent release by he two of them. I hope Tinga keeps performing. Thanks Cardisa!


Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren Morgan M-T 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

Thanks for this article!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working