Few figures in Australia and New Zealand music can compare to Stan Walker, one of the finest popular entertainers in a generation. As a singer, the trans-Tasman pop R&B star, recording artist, actor and activist is virtually peerless, possessing a heaven-sent voice that can sound angelic, sensual, or soaring. He brings people together, which makes sense because he has always known it wasn’t just about him. From the highest highs to the lowest lows, his life has been full of pain and joy in equal measure, and his music reflects that.
Growing up between Tauranga’s Tamapahore Marae in New Zealand and Byron Bay in Australia, the trans-Tasman Maori pop R&B star, recording artist, actor and activist was acutely aware of both the strength of his culture and the injustices suffered by indigenous people. From an early age, Stan knew he would be an agent of change, but if you want to create change, you need a platform. In 2009, he found his platform, when he became the winner of the seventh and final season of Australian Idol. Overnight, a star was born, and during the decade that followed, Stan became one of Australia and New Zealand’s most beloved artists, with accolades that speak for themselves. What those accolades obscured, however, was the pain that lay in Stan’s past - the violence and sexual abuse he endured during his childhood, and eventually overcome through the transformative power of love and forgiveness.
As a recording artist, Stan has surpassed over 300,000 music sales. In New Zealand, that accounts for one gold album, two platinum albums, one double platinum album, ten gold singles, and four platinum singles. He has also been awarded eight New Zealand Music Awards and is the five times winner of the Waiata Maori airplay of the year award. In Australia, Stan has been nominated for five ARIA awards. Sales wise, he’s achieved two gold singles, two platinum singles, and two double-platinum singles.
The scale of Stan’s commercial success is undeniable, and the visibility it has afforded him has come with considerable influence. Across his combined social channels, Stan is connected to an online audience of over a million, and his tours across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands regularly sell out to rapturous, singalong applause. Outside of his headline performances, Stan has shared stages with RnB and hip-hop superstars like Chris Brown, Ciara, Nicki Minaj, Akon, and the queen herself - Beyonce, who personally complimented the beauty of his voice.
In 2013 and 2015, Stan took things full circle by joining The X Factor New Zealand as a judge for their first and second seasons. During those years, he began to bring his star power, humour and humility to the big screen by acting in New Zealand films Mt Zion, Born to Dance, and Taika Waititi’s Hunt For The Wilderpeople. Mainstream success and visibility gave Stan the keys to unlock something far more important to him, the hearts of the people. His emotionally charged performances were one thing, but as the sincerity of his down-to-earth humility, humour and honesty has become crystal clear, listeners have connected with him on a deeper, more personal level. In an era where the gestures of celebrity and influencer culture have never felt more empty, Stan is a man of the people, and for the people.
Winning Australian Idol all those years ago gave Stan a platform as an entertainer. Now, he’s using his platform for bigger purposes. A role model and trusted advocate for Maori, indigenous people and marginalised groups, Stan also speaks fearlessly about climate change, social injustice, domestic violence and family abuse. Forged in life’s fires, he never lost sight of what he always knew; it’s not just about him.