Born and raised in Elsies River, Cape Town, Rowlene spent much of her childhood performing in singing and dancing competitions.
It comes as no surprise then that one of the singer’s most striking characteristics is her magnetic showmanship. It is something that is immediately clear in her music videos, in her glorious outfits, in the way she talks, and most of all, in her sound.
11:11, the artist’s debut album, dropped to great fanfare in November last year.
The project’s sleek, snappy, versatile and catchy tunes positions the singer as one of the ringleaders of South Africa’s burgeoning R&B scene.
Rowlene is one among many artists – and in particular women – who are lighting up the genre.
She stands alongside such acts as Elaine, Ayanda Jiya and Valerie Omari in a group of exciting musicians bringing rich and soulful music to the country.
In the album, she remains focused primarily on themes of romance.
However, she makes it clear in the enigmatic opening track “Stop” that she is number one. Infused with a trap beat, Rowlene informs us that “I’m a C.E.O, see me oh gettin’ paid /
You ain’t on the payroll but you askin’ for a raise.”
From there, the artist jumps between two romantic states.
In “Creeping”, she is mournful yet resilient as she battles with the revelation that her partner has been unfaithful.
In the feisty “Danger”, on the other hand, she is carefree, exploring the thrill of a fast-paced affair.
Rowlene’s genre-defying versatility springs out of these songs. Unlike most others, she is able to weave together R&B, trap, hip-hop and afrobeats, as well as bringing in aspects of techno and dubstep into her music.
This, alongside her brilliant showmanship and addictive vocals, makes her one of South Africa’s most exciting acts.
Video source: YouTube