James Rolling: Department Associate, Doctoral Student and Grammy Winner
Published in Inside - Volume V, No. 8
"So little of the credit for our winning the Grammy belongs to me," says James Haywood Rolling Jr., who is a tenor with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir as well as a doctoral student in the Art and Art Education program and Department Associate in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching.
Rolling was referring to the third Grammy Award that the 270-voice Brooklyn choir received in mid-February. The album, High and Lifted, won the Best Gospel Choir or Chorus Album category. "I want you to understand," Rolling says, "that my contribution to winning this accolade is merely singing with all my heart. I'm part of a tenor section of 50 or so men and they would tell you the same."
Rolling sees his gospel singing not as entertainment but rather as part of his own ministry and a form of worship. "I've been singing for a long time. I was a member of a teenage gospel band, a lead male singer and a Sunday school teacher before I joined the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir with my wife, Me'shae Brooks-Rolling, three years ago."
The Brooklyn Tabernacle is located in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn and its choir, which is nearly 30 years old, has recorded 18 albums and performed around the world, including Carnegie Hall. Earlier, it won Grammys in the gospel category in 1994 and 1996. According to The New York Times, "The non-denominational congregation is a multiracial gathering that talks about God with ease and passion and never fails to credit him for any good fortune."
Rolling believes that the choir's next album, which will be out this month, God is Working, is a "wonderful compilation of songs" that is "even better" than the current Grammy album.
A student at TC since 1995, Rolling sees himself as a principal in an arts-centered school after he receives his Ed.D. Since August of this year he has been a Department Associate, setting department schedules, managing its budget, and acting as a liaison between the department and the dean's office.
Rolling believes his gospel singing is another form of artistic expression in his life. He says, "A lot of people were surprised to learn about my singing. Faculty members speak about the secret life of James. The nicest thing that's happened are all the requests from faculty and students for tapes of our music."previous page