With his supreme styles of smooth Jazz, Soul, R&B, Contemporary Instrumental, Dance, and Inspirational music, D Rolark approaches just about every genre with striking methods of positivity and enlightenment; key elements that are absent from today’s music. D Rolark is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist whose method of music is described as “Inspir-tainment,” Inspirational Entertainment.
Primarily known as a keyboardist, D Rolark also plays guitar, bass, vibes, drums, percussion, and flute without any music theory at all.
The inspiration that D Rolark gains for songs from the components of life; particularly sunrises and sunsets, fulfills him to do anything and everything that has to do with music. D Rolark makes his compositions his life.
Since birth, D Rolark was given the rare ability to hear color in music. According to him, every note and chord has a different hue of color that expresses the essence of the song itself. With his instrumental album “Tonality,” we dive into the depths of his many talents and expressions that he shares with the listeners through his vivid performances.
The opening record is the title track, “Tonality.” Heavy drums, raw basslines, and Funk inspired grooves to create a blissful soundscape as we are introduced to the expressions D Rolark has set in place for us. Instantly snapping your fingers to the instrumentation, a vibrant picture is painted sonically as we hear bright keys accompanied by soft harmonies as the centerpiece of this remarkable introduction. This piece acts as a significant reminder to smile largely and dance with a purpose as you tap your fingers and toes to the beat.
“Happiness is You,” is the second track we are gifted. The title truly says it all as glistening elements fill speakers with a slower tempo setting the tone of this lively record. Although we are presented with a pace that slows us down in the fast-moving world we live in, we find other ways to move to this beat as the magnetic performance D Rolark offers us stays in the forefront of our mind. The delicate synth solo stands out from the crowd as we are forced to be pulled from the rest of this composition to dive into that piece. Just as easily, we are drawn back in as everything comes together to finish off the song.
The third song on “Tonality,” is “Going All the Way.” The delicate and Jazz inspired vibes create a glorified lounge-like atmosphere where we want to experience all life has to offer. The way that D Rolark conveys his talents is truly outstanding as we can’t help but to be transported to a euphoric wave of sonic delicacy in the performance he puts forth. Topped off with a piano solo that strikes hard, this has to be the icing on this cake.
“Effervesence,” carries the heartfelt, nostalgic R&B vibes that we know and love from the ’90s. A picture is painted of slick dance moves breezing across the asphalt as rain pours down from the sky. The passion that is put across the instrumentation shines a bright light on the artistic versatility that D Rolark carries close to his heart. We are pleased to share the twists and turns that this album offers up as it takes us on a tour of the genres through the ages. Something that not every artist can successfully do.
“Reflections of the Heart,” reflects the title of this song. This indulgent ballad opens up with a warm embrace that lures us into the softer tempo that D Rolark exudes in this masterpiece. The composition is elegantly simplistic yet so complete and powerful at the same time. Emotions of love and strength overcome you as the listener. With your head instantly filling up with the effortless arrangement of the instrumentation, you allow yourself to sink a little deeper into the headspace D Rolark shares with us.
The sixth record and the halfway point of the album introduces us to, “Optimistic Viewpoint.” A groove chalked full of eclectic Funk. The new wave sprinkles that D Rolark offers in this piece is quite refreshing as it hones in on the sounds of 60’s Funk that we all know and love. Being visible to these graceful elements allows us to in fact remain optimistic as a positive light is shed in the way D Rolark presents this song. You can hear the burning passion behind the positivity that he drives home.
“Beautiful Soul,” starts with the heavenly ambiance of airy synths and crisp drums for another ballad that we can hold close to our hearts. Dripping in the emotional vulnerability that D Rolark was in when writing this specific song, the instrumentation tells a story of finding light in that special person and when you find that, it’s important to keep the flame burning. The production quality is top-notch as each instrument is presently heard in a way that the listener can conclude their own interpretations as they cherish the meaning behind it.
“Looking Ahead,” occupies your mind with the smooth and soothing ambiance that radiates through D Rolark’s presentation. This record zones you in on the precise playing that is used to send a message of positivity and plans for the future. The captivating elements used to tell this story shows a deep promise for endeavors and success to come. The joy D Rolark carries through melodies is nothing shy of outstanding. The use of emotion through this instrumental album allows you to focus on the feelings that matter.
“Standing Together,” is a collaborative effort with Dawn Rolark. It also remains the only collaboration on “Tonality.” This contribution of prominent violin adds a different flavor to a united front that the two carry out as a dynamic duo. The rhythmic grooves that dance along the same way you do, bring the chemistry to life with this duet. A record that exposes the immense closeness like this one, immerses us in the deep-hearted thought that went into the creation with a brilliant storyline to show for it.
“Soul Inspiring,” is the tenth song on “Tonality.” The elusive and earnest ballad creates an idyllic dreamland that shapes the innermost recognizable feelings we can carry. D Rolark infuses this new wave Jazz ambiance with his heart’s content. A record that is dedicated to the aura we carry and the sentiments we hold within allows us to tap into ourselves for an introspective vision of what the melody is putting across through each instrument performed.
The second last record on “Tonality,” is titled “Within the Light.” A heartfelt representation of D Rolark’s sincere outlook in this wistful creation. The dazzling keys performed remain a centerpiece as the instrumentation fuses together in such an effortless manner. As you sway back and forth between the light and breezy performance you are transported to nostalgic times where you can truly be alone with your thoughts as the melodies grace upon the speakers in a gentle fashion.
The final song that we come to is, “Groove No Limit,” and let me just say that this soothing ballad is dressed in the groovy ways that Funk touches our hearts. With a slow tempo that oozes with empowerment, we have that affirmative light shining as an individual piece and shining on all the other pieces presented on this project of dedication. D Rolark truly outdoes himself on this final piece and makes this the perfect way to bring “Tonality,” to completion.
“Tonality,” is a harmonious blend of D Rolark’s skillset. As we venture through this album from start to finish, we are able to capture the true essence that glimmers through each piece. As one who has composed over 500 songs, we look forward to learning more about D Rolark as an artist and individual with what he has in store next.
Listen to 'Tonality,' here.
Congratulations on the release of your album “Tonality.” Welcome to BuzzMusic, D Rolark! With your undeniable experience in this industry, we would love to know; how was your creative process different on this album versus other projects that you have worked on?
Thank you very much for having me here. It is both an honor and a privilege to be here. Over the years, I have shared works and the stage with so many artists in music ranging in various genres that have shaped my sound. From Jazz, Soul/R&B, Gospel, and Pop, I have been greatly influenced by so many artists whose music is an aura of musical purity and diversity.
With this project, Tonality, my primary focal point was creating music of positivity and enlightenment; especially with the recent events that have happened this year. I have always believed that music is the source of healing in any situation no matter how extreme it can become. I’m one that believes that where words fail, music speaks. The world may have different views on various issues, but music is the art that unites everyone in perfect unity. Another concept that makes Tonality different from my last projects is focusing more on acoustic and electric piano solos rather than overproducing the project with a lot of concepts that can sometimes take away the essence of the song.
Tonality was close to being a double album because throughout the year, I have recorded 30 songs and I wanted to choose the best ones that fit the project perfectly. Some of the other songs that didn’t make it on the album will more than likely be released on a project slated for 2021. Although not definite, some of the songs will likely have vocals; something I haven’t included on any of my projects since my 2018 release, Solidify.
What would you like listeners to take away from, “Tonality” as a whole?
What I like the listener to take from Tonality is the sense of positivity and enlightenment, as stated earlier. This year has been a challenge to so many individuals, such as the pandemic and other events that have occurred. While other sources try to create solutions from different sources that may seem temporary, music has been, still is, and always will be the answer to many of life’s situations. The last thing anyone needs is anything that produces negativity and uneasy emotions that can destroy the soul. No person should ever have to go through that. With music, especially with me being primarily an instrumental artist, the tone of the melody is found between the notes. Every note represents a color that can sense the emotions and fill the heart with healing and rhythm of life.
How did the collaboration with Dawn Rolark come to be? What was it like working with one another?
As many know, Dawn has been my beautiful and blessed bride since 1996. Both of us share a musical common bond that can never be replaced. Dawn has expressed to me many times that she played violin as a child, but I never knew this until her parents told me. One day, I stumbled on some of her youth photographs and I found one where she was playing the violin at age 8. I was amazed when I discovered this. I asked her if she ever thought about getting back into playing the violin and she has thought about it. One of our friends from our church introduced Dawn to a school of the arts that teaches violin and she was more than interested in getting back into playing the violin.
With myself being a musician, I introduced my wife to violin greats such as Jean-Luc Ponty, Noel Pointer, Karen Briggs, Regina Carter, Damien Escobar, Sonya Robinson, and Gerald Dameon. Dawn became mesmerized by their technique and artistry on the instrument. Over the years, Dawn has played several recitals that range from Contemporary Christian, Folk, and Pop standards. During this time, I purchased several violins for Dawn ranging from acoustic to electric and synth, which is her favorite of the three types. We performed together for various church musical programs and one of the pieces we did together was an improvisational inspirational piece called “Manifested Blessings”, which is a song where she made her debut on my 2019 project, Make A Joyful Noise. The interplay between my keyboard work and her violin was a perfect match that I decided to include her on just about every project that I do. On Tonality, we collaborated on the dance-influenced song, “Standing Together”. In fact, we’re putting together a Christmas album together entitled, A D & D Connection Christmas. I have collaborated with many musicians and artists over the years, but to fully collaborate with a musician who happens to be my loving spouse is more than a blessing, it is an irreplaceable and priceless gift of musical artistry from the Lord.
Out of every song carefully chosen for “Tonality,” do you have one that resonates with you more than the others? What is the reason behind your choosing of this record?
Of all the songs that I have done on this album, I have two which is a tie as my favorite. The first one is the second song entitled, “Happiness Is You” and “Standing Together”. “Happiness is You” is a song that represents positivity and self-assurance which signifies the inner beauty of every individual that exists. As stated earlier, there are many situations that take place in the world today that can rob one of the joys that they pursue. The sadness and despair that one shows when they’re going through things, that’s not them. Those negative emotions do not define their character. The joy and smiles that they show everyone, that’s the true happiness that defines their character. The song instrumentally tells the listener, “You are loved. You are beautiful. You are handsome. You are a king. You are a queen. You are needed.”
“Standing Together” is another favorite because not only is it a collaboration with my wife, but the dance influence instrumentally plays a message of standing together through thick and thin no matter what the world tries to throw at us. No matter what happens, we’re in this together. How many couples are able to put those principles to work and withstand the negativity that tries to come against them? This song expresses that notion from an instrumental standpoint.
What has been keeping you inspired throughout 2020?
As a musician, I focus only on things that bring inspiration and hope to my soul. The aspect that I receive from the elements of life is the same values that I try to give others. Music has always been my method of communication. It is a precious commodity that gives me hope and enlightenment whenever life tries to throw things my way that does not line up with my character. Every day, I’m always coming up with new ideas and concepts about how I can express my musical gifts. It is a process that is a lifelong journey that never ends. Whatever I can do to unite everyone, I do it with music. If a pied piper can use music as a force, my music is no exception. With music, it is a soundtrack to my life and I am immensely grateful for what the Lord has given me. I wish everyone musical peace and blessings.