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Captivating, uplifting and inspirational; the songs of Roby Mathew have touched the hearts of listeners around the world by spreading a message of joy, hope and freedom.
As an Indian born under the Zambian sun, Mathew was raised amidst revolution and political strife on the plains of Africa. He watched as millions of Africans fought for their political freedom and became deeply inspired by the likes of Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, and Mahatma Ghandi. Their message of freedom and triumph through "the struggle" would come to characterize his music and become a major theme in his life.
At age 12, Mathew left Africa to attend a Christian boarding school in South India where he experienced for the first time his need for God. It was here that he would come to develop two things that would shape the foundation of his life irrevocably; his love of music and a deep faith. Mathew began singing as part of the school’s praise and worship group and subsequently formed a rock band with classmates. This afforded him the opportunity to develop his singing and performing skills. It was here that he picked up his first guitar and began to explore a place where his passion and creativity met.
Mathew left the comfortable, spiritually adept confines of his boarding school to further pursue his education. He landed in Florida, where his passion for music became all-consuming. Without a guitar to call his own, he relied on the generosity of a friend to provide him with one to hone his craft. They would jam together for hours in the dorms, on stoops, and in hallways around the campus. Mathew eventually began to venture beyond the campus to test his guitar chops at local coffee shops and small outdoor venues. He was heavily influenced by Dave Matthews, Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan, devoting copious amounts of time learning their songs. However, it wasn’t until his last year of college that he would begin to draw on his personal experiences as a child in Africa and an adolescent growing up in India, to find his voice and begin to write his own music.
He began working on his demo in earnest and in 2000 moved to Denver, Colorado to pursue his career. He continued to write and completed his demo CD, 'The Wanderer’s Raag' in 2003. With songs such as 'Poets and Lies,' 'Super Power' and 'Long Walk To Freedom,' the album was born out of his reconciliation between a simple spiritual life in Africa and India and the fast paced corporate society that he now found himself a part of. This process also birthed within Mathew a strong desire to develop his faith and to serve God by serving those less fortunate. He took trips to Mexico to help build houses for homeless fishermen and setup clinics for the ill. He also enrolled in seminary and began work towards a degree in Theology. Mathew began to lead praise and worship music at his church and started work on a new uplifting album with more of a spiritual emphasis. This work culminated in Roby Mathew’s first studio album entitled 'Uncovered.'
Combining insights gleaned from a life lived around the world; this diverse, politically and spiritually charged album fans the fire of freedom and peace at a time when the world could use a bit of both. 'African Son' is a tribute to a continent and people that are both the inspiration behind, and the reason for his music. The bright arpeggiated guitars are reminiscent of Ray Phiri’s guitar work on Paul Simon’s Graceland album and the deep backing vocals evoke the memory of the powerful harmonies of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. In 'Be Still,' Mathew expertly blends delay-laden guitars, rich vocal harmonies and simple, heartfelt lyrics inspired by the Psalms of the Old Testament. In his most poignant song, 'Beautiful Fire,' the intensely honest lyrics find hope and redemption in moments of deepest hurt.
Today, Mathew continues to define his sound and add elements from sources as diverse as traditional African percussion to modern rock and blues guitar riffs. In his quest to expand his sonic horizons, he's managed to craft a sound that is as beautiful as it is unique and wholly his own. Every song is an emotional journey through its subject; filled with exploration and insight that culminates in a lasting feeling that you've just been inspired or comforted by a close friend.