Rolanda Carter is a songwriter, singer, producer, teacher and so much more. She just released her debut single “Bullet Train,” and I’m absolutely in love with it.
I got a chance to chat with Rolanda about her music, her story, her inspirations and much more. Check out our conversation below:
I’m with the writer, the singer and the producer Rolanda Carter. How are you doing?
Rolanda Carter: Fine. I’m really good.
Alright! So your single, “Bullet Train”, I love it! It recently came out. It’s everything. The quality, the BGVs, the track and everything about it is slaying. Where did this song come from?
Rolanda Carter: I wrote this song, and it was produced by The Golden Brothers. I wrote this song in the basement of Howard University [Fine Arts] in the practice rooms. One of my professors was going around giving chords to people. I missed that, but I went to him and said I wanted some chords to create a song. This is just what was on my heart. I was trying to get through that semester at Howard knowing that I just wanted do better and be better. I was wrestling with knowing if I was where I was suppose to be in order for better to happen. So I was just like, “Aye Lord! Whatever you’re allowing, whatever you got going, I’m going to choose to trust you. Because I know you had me back then. You’ve come through for me countless times. There’s no reason for me to let my trust in you slip.” That’s where this song came from.
Wow. So you worked with The Golden Brothers [Kevin Golden, Reginald Golden and Geoffrey Golden] on this.
Rolanda Carter: Yes!
They’re a new group. They’ve always been brothers.
Rolanda Carter: Since day one! (laughs)
(laughs) As far as being a collective, this is a new thing. And you’ve known them, but what was it like working with them as the newly formed trio?
Rolanda Carter: It was cool. I know all of them outside of music. I went to high school with Geoffrey. Reggie Golden is my choir director. And I’ve watched Kevin play bass for a while. They’re all who I admire. Personal friendships aside, I admire them musically. I learned a lot about working together. I’ve never written with anyone else, and I’ve never had anyone else produce for me. I produce all of my own stuff. It was dope experience and learning opportunity.
Cool, because they’re popping. Geoffrey Golden, the youngest brother, is the Season 7 Winner of Sunday Best. Reginald Golden, the middle brother, is the director of the Stellar Award nominated Howard Gospel Choir. And Kevin Golden is a phenomenal bass player who also has his law degree, so you worked with incredible people for Bullet Train. Speaking of your single, where did you get “bullet train” from?
Rolanda Carter: You knooooow! (laughs) I see things in pictures. Everything is a picture. Everything is moving for me. You’re sitting at a station and everyone is passing you by. You may not feel like you’re going anywhere, but once you get on and it takes off, it’s fast. So you can sit there pouting during the time that you’re waiting or you can spend it preparing. It’s really like a blink of an eye. If we really trust that God has called us to do certain things, eventually we’ll get there. So why should we spend the preparation time whining and all that other stuff. This isn’t apart of your question, but my songs for me are fellowship with God. It’s him teaching me, loving me and counseling me through everything that I go through.
There’s a part where you say, “I may not understand, but I know you have me now.” I hear that in everything you’re saying right now.
Rolanda Carter: Yeaaaah! That’s it! Trust in God’s character. He is good.
Rolanda Carter: God is not laughing at us. He really has plans to prosper and not to harm us. We really have to believe that. What’s the point of calling his name if we’re not going to believe that.
Right! So do you believe your music is helping and healing you?
Rolanda Carter: It’s therapeutic. It’s cathartic. It’s fellowship with God. Every time I get a new song I’m amazed. The last one could really be the last one. I can’t write this stuff off my own strength. I think music is bigger than us. I’m just glad that God gives me that gift.
Me too! Are there any artists that inspire you to make healing music?
Rolanda Carter: I love Lauryn Hill. She has the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. I love that album. Another artist I’m going to bring up is PJ Morton. Some of his new album Gumbo reminds me of Miseducation because there’s conversation going on in it. But that second MTV Unplugged where she’s [Lauryn] just there with her guitar, those songs sounded like healing. They sounded like process on paper. I admire that. More than artists, it’s people around me. My sister Rose got me my first journal in 2001 when I was 7 or 8. She processed through art and poetry. And she passed that along to me. My first poem was raggedy, but now I can write a song.
Yeah girl! You writing singles! (laughs)
Rolanda Carter: (laughs) Before it was every somebody who was super big, it was the people who were around me that I admired.
You mentioned earlier that when you started writing “Bullet Train,” you were just trying to get through Howard. Do you feel comfortable sharing more about that?
Rolanda Carter: Yeah. I love Howard University. I transferred to Howard. I really wanted to go. Howard sings. Howard is The Mecca. Beautiful people. Beautiful place. Howard has been an experience where I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned to adjust. I’ve learned to cope. I’ve learned how to learn. I haven’t always had the money to pay for Howard. When I came to Howard, my grandma, who was my girl… I would see her very often. I use to call my grandma everyday. I came to Howard in August of 2013. She died unexpectedly that October. That added a bit of a financial strain. Ever since then, God’s been making a way. That’s what was on my heart when I wrote “Bullet Train.” I want to get my degree. I want to finish. Me and my mom sometimes laugh about how we’ve paid for semesters. We’ll be like, “Where did this money come from?” Because we don’t know. There’s no paper trail. (laughs)
Haha! I definitely understand that. Sticking with Howard, you’re a member of the choir Reginald directs, the Howard Gospel Choir.
Rolanda Carter: Yes! I love HGC!
How much has being in the choir shaped who you are as an artist?
Rolanda Carter: I know for sure being in the choir has shaped my delivery. I’ve done a couple of leads in the choir and that’s shaped me as well. My thought process, trying to make sure things sound right, making sure the ad-lib is related to whatever the message is, making sure the message comes across right… All shaped. The music we sing is rich lyrically. If I ever get the chance to lead something, I really want the writer’s heart to be portrayed. I care about the words, the music and excellence. HGC operates in excellence. It’s given me a standard. And it’s giving me opportunities that have inspired me to do things that I wouldn’t have ever known were things that I could do. The choir’s definitely influenced me, and I’m very glad to be apart of it.
Like the choir, “Bullet Train” doesn’t shy from the mention of Jesus. Should we expect the rest of the music you release to take the same format?
Rolanda Carter: I can’t say that it will take the same form, but it will still be my heart. At the end of the day, whatever I go through, whether God’s name comes up in it or not, my goal is to lift up the name of Jesus so that others might be drawn to him. I might be talking about a situation where I’m losing friends, but at the beginning or end of the day, my goal is for folks to be saved and to know the God that is walking me through all of this stuff. It might not all sound like Gospel. I can’t really tell you exactly what it will sound like, but I think that you’ll like it. I can tell you that my heart will be in it.
Now can you tell us when we will hear more?
Rolanda Carter: When will you hear more? When will you hear more? (laughs)
Rolanda Carter: You’ll definitely hear more from me within the next year.
So what can we expect from you as an artist? What do you want your body of your music to do?
Rolanda Carter: I want my body of music to inspire people to do whatever it is they’ve been called to do. I want my music to inspire people to take leaps of faith. I want it to inspire people to endure seemingly crappy situations. If you put your hope in the Lord, he will not lead you to shame. If you are going through a breakup and it looks like it is the worst thing ever, put your hope in the Lord. Put your trust in him, and he will not lead you to shame. I want to deliver that sturdiness to people. Also, I love children, so somehow my music or me as an artist will work with them.
Amen. Now before we wrap up, can you give me 5 adjectives that describe you presently?
Rolanda Carter: Yes. Passionate. Creative. Hopeful. People lover. Excited. I’m excited for everything and everybody around me. We’re meant for more.
It was great chatting with Rolanda Carter. You can stay connected with Rolanda on Instagram @itsmissro.
Her debut single is available on all digital music outlets, but you can click right here to download it. There’s a definitely a calling on her life, so make sure you keep up with her!
Bryant Smith is the founder and owner of The Top Tea.