Meet Banbury's talented singer songwriter who can include Sir Elton John among his many fans

In what has been a tough year for musicians, Isaac Stuart has emerged as one to watch

Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 11:52 am
Banbury singer-songwriter Isaac Stuart
Banbury singer-songwriter Isaac Stuart

When Sir Elton John says he loves your music, you know you are doing something right.

That moment came when Banbury singer-songwriter Isaac Stuart sang his own version of Bee Gees 1977 classic Stayin’ Alive live on the Virgin Radio's The Chris Evans Breakfast Show.

Not only was he blown away by the reaction from Chris Evans, guest David Walliams and the general public, but Sir Elton John even phoned in during the performance, asking “who’s this kid?”.

The 22-year-old is now getting ready to release his latest single, after his debut single last October acquired over a quarter of a million streams.

And given the success of his classic cover song, his version of Stayin' Alivehas now been released as a ‘B’ side, to his forthcoming third single release ‘Saved’ due out Friday July 9.

Isaac said: “I had such a great response when I started playing the cover to friends and family.

"Then having the opportunity to play it during my set on The Chris Evans Breakfast Show, I was blown away by the reaction from Chris, David Walliams (show guest) and listeners.

Banbury singer-songwriter Isaac Stuart (photo by Sam Bennett)

"Elton John even phoned in during the performance, asking “who’s this kid?”. Needless to say, I was well and truly convinced to record and release a proper studio version.

Talking about why he chose that song, he added: "Stayin’ Alive has always been one of my favourite feelgood records and without fail always gets people dancing.

"But despite my love for it, I’d never really listened properly to the lyrics. I was on an empty train listening and sung the first verse, aloud and a little slower than the original, and it just felt right.

"I Googled the lyrics and found them heartbreakingly delicate and beautiful. I thought it was amazing how an upbeat song could have such a dark and emotional undertone hidden amongst the groove.

Isaac Stuart's version of Stayin' Alive

"I suppose I wanted to try and hone in on that delicacy and amplify it with my version.”

It has been a busy 12 months for the Banbury singer.

Despite the pandemic continuing to create more and more roadblocks in the development of emerging new talent, Isaac’s 2020 was a huge success receiving both commercial and BBC national radio support including national radio playlisting and performed in an empty Wembley Arena for Mahogany Home Editions.

In February 2020 Isaac made his live debut performance - a sold out show at The Lexington, London supporting indie pop band Slowlines.

"“I felt really proud to be surrounded by friends and family as well as a few music industry supporters," he said.

"It was the first time I’d sang my own songs to an audience that wasn’t just people I knew, and it felt like the beginning of something really exciting, I loved it.”

From an early age Isaac’s dream was to be a successful performer within the arts, with his first musical endeavour being the writing and composition of a musical consisting of 14 songs at just 14 years old which was performed at his former secondary school North Oxfordshire Academy.

But it was sitting at home with mum and dad listening to his parent’s music collection on their original 1960’s jukebox that drove Isaac’s passion to pursue a music career.

The influence of classic artists like David Bowie, Carole King and Joni Mitchell fused together with more contemporary performers like Harry Styles and Dodie drives Isaac’s musical creativity, described by the likes of none other than Gary Lightbody (Snow Patrol) as ‘song writing beyond his years’.

However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic the ability to continue playing live and crafting his art disappeared by the end of March.

“I was devastated at the time,” said Isaac.

“I loved playing live and having it taken away from me so quickly was frustrating.”

However, Isaac used the opportunity to focus his time on song writing - penning numerous new songs across the summer.

Isaac released his debut single in October ‘Do You Like It When We Lay Like This?’

“This was a very special moment for me," he added.

"A little daunting during a strange time for everyone in the world. But I was so excited to release a song that meant so much to me and anyone in the world could listen to it."

Isaac was keen to produce a music video to compliment the release of his debut single. The opportunity to film and record a live version of the song in a completely empty Wembley Arena presented itself and Isaac grabbed it with both hands.

“I got to perform my debut single in The SSE Arena, Wembley a truly iconic venue. It was very surreal and a little bit eerie, but a moment I’ll never forget.

"I kept thinking this isn’t bad for a boy from Banbury releasing his first single. I’ll always be grateful to the team at Wembley Arena for making one of my dreams come true and I hope to return and play there with a few more people in the audience one day.”

Then came the moment when Isaac got to perform on The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Virgin Radio UK.

He got a call on a Thursday afternoon explaining that Rick Astley had developed a sore throat and was unable to perform live on Chris’ biggest show of the year - Friday December 18. "Would he be available to play live the next day?" they asked.

“I couldn’t believe it, they asked if I could play two Christmas songs - I only knew one - Silent Night."

So Isaac only had a few hours to learn a new Christmas song (he chose Santa Baby) and rehearse with his backing vocalists Kate and Meg Ella from the London Contemporary Voice Choir, before arriving at Virgin Radio studios by 7am the next day.

He also sang his version of ‘Stayin’ Alive’ (which Chris had heard and loved) and his debut single.

“It was an amazing experience and I got to meet David Walliams (another guest on Chris’ show) who became an instant fan of my music and told us on air that his friend Sir Elton John had rang him during the show and asked about me as he loved my songs - wow,” said Isaac.

His message for anyone who has a passion to succeed: “Be kind, believe in yourself and give all your energy to making it happen – whatever it is.”

Watch and listen to his music on his YouTube channel - https://www.youtube.com/isaacstuart