James Roland: Aspiring Gospel Artist

Anyone who devotes a discernible amount of their talent to this underpaying genre is almost sure to get a listen from me, out of moral support. I just happened to come across James Roland, a self-starter in the biz, and gave a quick listen. The basic track is appealing, even if it is a little crowded with overly familiar R&B sounds. I could do without the high-register swoop, and think the lyrics are a bit of a hurried mouthful at times, but it’s worth a quick listen.

Here is a sample:

I’m not a singer by any means, a gospel concert or a concept album producer—although sometimes I wonder if it is not a missed destiny. But there is no other genre like gospel, in my opinion. It was born in houses of worship, created with the divine purpose of winning souls and soothing hearts. Musicians are the heroes of any Black church, and anyone with a decent amount of musical talent can learn a lot from joining the music ministry. First of all, the musical instruments are just there, paid for by the church’s collection. Think about all of the hours that organists, pianists, guitarists and other band members devote to working out perfect chords to accompany the singers. Imagine the drilling and practicing that the choir and lead singers subject themselves to in order to develop their individual pitch, and polish their ability to harmonize with others.

From humble urban storefronts to modern sprawling campuses, if a church has a band, you can almost be sure to be in for a musical treat on a Sunday morning. Gospel, with its driving base, soulful organ, especially on a Hammond, and power vocalists, is indispensable to Black congregations through out American history.

Gospel singers do not achieve the level of fame and wealth as secular musicians, because the market is a smaller one. We’re not exactly talking about a form of music that glamorizes materialism, substance abuse misogyny or violence, so of course it’s hard to make a living just off of making gospel music! Go figure. Although this is a tamer sleepier genre, at least its fingerprints—without the aforementioned dysfunctions—are all over a host of majorly influential genres.


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