South African rocker Ard Matthews has been active in the SA music industry since the 1990’s as frontman of rock band Just Jinjer. Although the band is still active, Matthews launched a successful solo career, blending his creative songwriting and deep vocals to produce two solo albums.
Matthews was born in Johannesburg but grew up in the Bluff, Durban with his mother. His mother raised Matthews in a strict religious household with limited exposure to popular music. Fortunately, he did listen to the likes of Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong and Elvis Presley, which gave him the impetus to enter a talent competition as a singer, at the age of 12.
Whilst at high school, Matthews learnt to play the drums after sitting at a friends drum kit and finding that he has a natural rhythm. Not being especially interested in conventional schooling he enrolled in the Johannesburg based musical arts school called The Groove Class. Here, Matthews learnt the guitar and discovered another talent, his voice.
In 1996, he along with fellow musicians, Brent Harris and Denholm Harding, started the rock band Just Jinjer, playing original rock songs. The band’s success came in the early 2000’s after they released their debut album ‘All Comes Round’, which became the best-selling rock album in South African history. The band has traveled widely and performed to fans all across Europe, Australia and the US where he settled for 8 years in Los Angeles. Just Jinjer signed a record deal with Curb Records and performed in some of the top US clubs and festivals before returning to South Africa in 2009.
Ard Matthews released his debut solo album, First Offerings, in 2012. He then teamed up with folk icon Vusi Mahlasela and released the single, Umuntu, in 2013. Matthews solo career took off and he regularly performs as a solo artist, including a European solo tour in 2017, after the release of his single called Wonder Years. Matthews was heavily involved in the writing, recording, production and engineering of his second solo album ‘Impossible Machines’. The album effortlessly blends rock, electronic and smooth rhythms set against Matthew’s strong voice.
In between his solo acts Ard Matthews remains the frontman of Just Jinjer and is often joined on stage with other talented musicians on an ad hoc basis during popular South African festivals such as Rocking the Daisies and Oppikoppi.
Matthews has gained a large South African following and continues to keep the country rocking with great guitar work, solid drumming and a fresh, distinctive sound.
By Carla Lottering