Natalie Stewart: Floetry in Motion


Davina Hamilton (The Voice) interviews performance poet Natalie Stewart; the founding of the UK-based neo-soul duo, Floetry, with Marsha ‘the Songstress’ Ambrousis; her spoken word event, Flo Vortex; and what the future holds. Stewart, whose parents hail from Jamaica, presented “An Evening with Flo and Friends” last night (February 20) in London and expects to produce a new album with Ambrousis in the near future.

The start of this year served as somewhat of an awakening for Natalie Stewart. One half of the much-loved UK duo, Floetry, the performance poet, dubbed ‘the Floacist’, realised at the beginning of 2016 that it had been 10 years since the demise of the ground-breaking group she had founded. “I think I came to the realisation that I’m in a 10-year turnover now of what was probably the most challenging experience of my life,” the 37-year-old explains, as we sit in east London venue Juno Bar, where her spoken word event, Flo Vortex, was due to take place that evening. “At the end of 2006 when Floetry came to an abrupt close – although I was aware that it was closing throughout the whole of 2006 – it was a very interesting time for me. After realising this year that that was 10 years ago, I think I embarked on almost a re-cleansing journey.”

Stewart makes no secret of the challenges she faced when her musical partnership with bandmate Marsha ‘the Songstress’ Ambrousis came to an end a decade ago. Though the pair hail from the UK, the development of Floetry as a professional outfit came when Stewart and Ambrosius moved to America in 2000. There, they worked with a host of artists including Jill Scott, Bilal and Michael Jackson, after Ambrosius penned the hit song Butterflies, which appeared on the King of Pop’s 2001 album, Invincible.

As a duo, Floetry released two critically acclaimed albums – Floetic (2002) and Flo’Ololgy (2005) – and through the pairing of Ambrosius’s sweet vocals and Stewart’s powerful prose, the soulful duo won legions of fans throughout the world. But the dynamic duo came to an end in 2006, much to the disappointment of their fans – and Stewart.

[. . .] Speaking on the solo career her bandmate went on to forge, Stewart says: “Floetry is a very different vibration to what Marsha does when she creates as a solo artist. It’s not different to what I do when I create as a solo artist. I’m a performance poet – the vibration of the people, the message of the music, that’s what I’m about.

[. . .] After Floetry’s disbandment, Stewart remained active on the performance poetry circuit and then went on to release her debut solo album Floetic Soul in 2010, followed by albums The Floacist Presents Floetry Re: Birth (2012) and Rise of the Phoenix Mermaid (2014). After returning to UK shores, the performance artist also launched her own spoken word event, the aforementioned Flo Vortex, which provides a platform for wordsmiths to share their lyrical skills.

Now, she’s gearing up for An Evening with Flo and Friends, which will take place this weekend (February 20). A musical extravaganza that will feature performances from acts including Terri Walker, Kele Le Roc, Stylo G and Rough Copy, the night will also serve as a post-birthday celebration for Stewart, who turned 37 on February 13.

Exuding a sense of both peace and maturity, Stewart says she is “blessed” with where her life is today.

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