I remember as a little girl singing along to the Jamaican band Third World’s hit songs- especially the single “Forbidden Love”. It’s on my list of favorite songs of all time. So when I was given the opportunity to interview one of the members William Stewart- the drummer in the group, I jumped at the opportunity. From years of touring the world to recording and performing with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Jackson 5, Bob Marley, The Wailers to name a few, Mr. Stewart still expresses his undying love for music. AfroStyle Magazine caught up with him to talk about some of his projects such as Solutions in Music and what he’s been up to.

ASM: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE SOLUTIONS IN MUSIC?
WS: When I realized the power of music to transform lives, I became passionate about developing programs to help people from all walks of life. The drum itself is an inspiration, which is a gift to the world from our Mother Africa. In Africa, the drums play a very important role in the community and the everyday lives of our people. It represents spirituality; it’s used for healing, communication, celebration, dance, etc. There’s no reason why every human being should not experience the joy of playing drums at least once in their lives.

ASM: DID YOU THINK IT WOULD GET THIS MUCH ATTENTION IT’S GOTTEN?
WS: My focus wasn’t so much on the attention the program would get. It was on what it could do to help people. I’m however very grateful and humbled by the response and positive feedback from the community, media, schools, corporate America in support of this program.

“Live Life Passionately and Stay Present. I don’t want to be one of those dying to do alot in the future and forgetting to live in the present…”

ASM: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE MUSIC TODAY COMPARED TO THE DAYS OF “THIRD WORLD” -ESPECIALLY IN THE REGGAE SCENE?
WS: We live in a computerized world; so music is computerized as well. Although it has its place, computerized music will never replace live music. Technology has allowed the everyday person to create music which isn’t a bad thing. But to reproduce that song live is where it can be quite challenging. Music takes time to learn and we all have to pay our dues. We are in a world today of instant gratification and a lot of young people don’t want to invest the time to perfect their musical skills. Music feeds the mind, body and the soul. It’s our source of inspiration and an artist whom I call a Musician of the Heart is able to touch that space deep inside us where God resides through his or her music. Not all musicians have that unique and special quality. Why do we keep on revisiting the old music? It’s because it carries the soul connection.

I would say that the era of Third World, Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Eddy Grant, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Burning Spear to mention a few was an era of strong , inspiring, uplifting messages. It was an era filled with music of social consciousness and also phenomenal love songs. Today’s music has wonderful beats but we just need to remember that as musicians, we all have a responsibility to the younger generation by exposing them to lyrics that uplift and inspire them to a better life. It’s always best to channel positive thoughts in the creative process of making music for positive results.

ASM: WITH ALL YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS, WHAT GOES THROUGH YOUR MIND AND WHAT WOULD YOU SAY YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
WS: I’m most proud of my relationship with the Creator. I feel that He has equipped me with everything I needed to fulfill my purpose in this life. My first memory as a child is of having a burning desire and passion to play rhythms on everything in sight- pots, pans, tables, my brother’s head; just about anything! What stayed with me is how much I enjoyed doing that and how it energized me. God has directed my path by always guiding, shaping, energizing me in my music; thus allowing me to bring inspiration and joy to the people. What goes through my mind is that God has blessed me with a wonderful wife, children and grandchildren. They’re truly my symphony of which I’m so proud.

At the same time I am truly proud to be able to “Live Life Passionately and Stay Present.” I don’t want to be one of those dying to do alot in the future and forgetting to live in the present because when you’re really dying, you might realize you forgot to live. So I try to show up for life everyday. I give thanks to have been able to meet some of the most fantastic people. I’m proud to learn from some of the greatest musicians and proud of my relationships with them. My favorite relationships of which I’m proud of are the everyday philosophers from whom I’ve learned so much. I’m also proud of the body of work made as part of the Third World Band and the opportunity it provided to play music for people all over the world. I’m so proud of giving back to the community through my work with Solutions in Music.

ASM: IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WANT READERS TO LOOK OUT FOR FROM WILLIAM STEWART IN 2011?
WS: My main project and focus will be Rhythms of Africa; Music around the World which will be presented October 14th and 15th at the Broward Performance Center Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale. This program was awarded a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The project celebrates African rhythms and history through percussion classes for children and community performances. This new music program will acquaint Broward children with world music while enhancing their cognitive and creative possibilities. Rhythms of Africa; Music around the World is a multi- dimensional workshop and live performance for teenagers with no previous musical training; however it places them on stage with professional musicians. The workshop takes the audience on a musical journey from Nigeria to Ghana; from the Ivory Coast into Brazil, Cuba, New Orleans, Jamaica, Trinidad and culminates in Florida. It’s a musical odyssey framed in a seven-week workshop ending with the highlight of the concert. I’ll also be working on a new album with some of my friends for release and I’ll also be part of some jazz & blues concert festivals.

“…. a Musician of the Heart is able to touch that space deep inside us where God resides through his or her music….”


I’ll be expanding Solutions in Music teambuilding and stress reduction workshops nationally and internationally. For more information about the workshop, people can check out my website www.solutionsinmusic.com. My “On The Beat Drum School” project will be in full swing in 2011- congrats to my student Danny Vendrell for receiving the Larrie Londin Memorial Scholarship after winning the prestigious 2010 international drum competition. Finally, I’ll be working with my daughter Leea Stewart on her upcoming album and my son Monea Stewart who’s a fantastic music producer.

“…Today’s music has wonderful beats but we just need to remember that as musicians, we all have a responsibility to the younger generation by exposing them to lyrics that uplift and inspire them to a better life…”

ASM: THANK YOU FOR INTERVIEWING WITH US MR. STEWART.
WS: I would like to thank AfroStyle Magazine for this interview and wish the magazine continued success.

Amaka M. Onyioha

Photos Courtesy of William Stewart
You tube : williamjlstewart
Email: info@solutionsinmusic.com