Producer / Director / Oral Historian / Documentarian / Shakespearean / Educator Entrepreneur / Musicologist / Sound Engineer / Photographer / Radio Host
Steve Rowland has spent a career using music, theater and art as windows to
explore issues in American history, society, race relations, human creativity,
spirituality, aesthetic beauty, the nature of change and human possibility. He is
one of the most accomplished music documentarians in the United States.
Rowland has produced over 50 hours of radio documentary work since 1987. All of
his projects are based on extensive oral histories. He produced the 11-hour
documentary “Leonard Bernstein: An American Life” which is narrated by Susan
Sarandon. It is based on over 100 exclusive interviews Rowland conducted with
colleagues of Bernstein and mountains of archival material.
He also created the acclaimed 8-hour “Miles Davis Radio Project”, hosted by
Danny Glover, a 5 hour documentary on John Coltrane called “Tell Me How Long
Trane’s Been Gone” and individual 2-hour documentaries on a number of
American icons, including: “Carlos Santana: Music for Life”, hosted by Edward
James Olmos; “Patti LaBelle: Gospel into Soul”, hosted by Whoopi Goldberg,
“Frank Zappa: American Composer”, hosted by Beverly D’Angelo, and “Hip-Hop
101: On the Road with the Roots”, hosted by Chuck D. His work is in the
permanent collections of The Library of Congress and the Museum of Television
He has won nearly every award in radio including 2 Peabodys, a Pew Fellowship in
the Arts, Prix Italia, Armstrong, Ohio State, Corporation for Public Broadcasting,
New York Festival and most recently a 2012 National Arts Journalism Award. His
work has been funded by The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The National
Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and several
Rowland has taught at Columbia University, teaches Shakespeare workshops in
prisons, has lectured at dozens of schools and universities including Columbia,
CUNY, Princeton, Syracuse, and is past President of AIR, The Association of
Independent Radio Producers, and ran the AIR Mentoring Program. He also
created and hosted one of the country’s first World Music radio programs 1980-
Rowland has interviewed hundreds of musicians, artists and other thinkers,
including Bob Marley, Cornel West, Fela Ransome Kuti, Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins,
Max Roach, Quincy Jones, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, Sun Ra, Elvin Jones, Big
Youth, Betty Carter, Lester Bowie, Cachao, Smokey Robinson, Dionne Warwick,
Stephen Sondheim, Oliver Lake, Mstislav Rostropovich, John Lee Hooker, Carlos
Santana, Ahmet Ertegun, Leslie Uggams, Marin Alsop, Comden & Green, George
Clinton, James DePriest, Kathleen Battle, Flea, Manning Marable and many, many
He has worked as a consultant to The Library of Congress, Music Division; the
Columbia University Oral History Research Center; The United States Holocaust
Museum, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Association of Oral Historians; Studer Editech
Corporation; Roland USA, Pro Audio Division; HHB Professional Audio Products,
The Philadelphia Folklore Project, the Atwater Kent Museum and many others.
Rowland turned his attention to Shakespeare in 2005 after being shaken by Al
Pacino and Jeremy Irons in their film version of The Merchant of Venice.
Returning to film/video, he has conducted over 250 interviews with directors,
actors, scholars and prisoners. He currently lives in Seattle and volunteers as a
Shakespeare instructor at Monroe Correctional Facility and is building a new non-
profit called “Shakespeare Central”, believing that Shakespeare Changes Lives.
He is also working on two films – “Time Out of Joint: Teaching Shakespeare in
Prison” currently being edited — and a profile of Dr. Irena Hausmanowa-
Petrusewicz, a Polish Jewish neurologist who survived WWII to help modernize
Polish medicine under the Communist regime, currently in development. Dr.
Hausmanowa-Petrusewicz died in July, 2015 at age 98, Rowland and his son
Cameron Rowland conducted her oral history in 2014.
Rowland attended Yale briefly and holds an undergraduate degree in
ethnomusicology and film production from Temple University and received an MBA
from Columbia University in 2001.