Sarnia guitar guru Cole Rolland has taken his music career in a new direction and released his first original single.
“Ignite” was written and recorded by Rolland, who not only plays guitar with his typical gusto but also steps out of his comfort zone to sing lead vocals.
“I am still the guitar guy but I really wanted to sing my own song, to add this to what I’m doing,” says the former process operator who in 2020 reached one million subscribers on YouTube. His following has since grown to 1.2 million with over 209 million views.
As The Journal first reported, Rolland left his job at Nova Chemicals last year to focus full time on music, which until now has involved releasing one or two wildly successful YouTube videos a month, primarily popular rock and pop covers.
But this year, during the pandemic, he has been writing and singing his own songs and taken online vocal lessons.
It’s been a frustrating year on some levels because he had hoped to travel, Rolland said. But COVID-19 restrictions also gave him time to hone his singing skills and record his first single.
“It’s a pretty big deal. I’ve been sitting on several songs but this one felt right,” he said.
“Ignite” is about finding the motivation to overcome adversity, a theme just about everyone can relate to during a pandemic, said Rolland.
“It’s about adapting and overcoming the challenges, finding that spark that gets you through the tough times.”
After the U.S. border opened he travelled to Florida to shoot the video for his first original release, working with a production company called Collective Films that created some slick visual effects.
The video was shown at a pre-release party in Sarnia earlier this month on his 28th birthday.
“Consistently, the people who have seen the video say it’s the best work I’ve done,” said Rolland. “And my girlfriend, who always tells it to me straight, says it stands out.”
He recently received a 01 visa from the U.S., issued to those with “extraordinary ability” in arts, sciences, athletics and business. That opens the door for Rolland to join his manager in Nashville in 2022 to continue his recording and song-writing career.
“Everything I’ve done is independent, without a label,” he said. “I’m impressed things have been able to get to this level without one. It feels really rewarding to pull off something like this because those online singing lessons took a lot of effort.”
“Ignite” was released Dec. 10 on most platforms including Spotify, YouTube Music, Apple, Amazon Prime Music and SoundCloud.
The Arts Journal is about Sarnia’s cultural fabric. Send your ideas to [email protected].