There was a mood of Black consciousness throughout Jamaica in 1971 when singer Audley Rollen recorded the hit song, Repatriation is a Must, which became his signature.
For the next 30 years, Rollen maintained a busy studio schedule but in 2002, his life and sound took on a different tone with the death of his 18-year-old son Joseph.
“When he died I re-evaluated myself. I felt my life would be better serving God,” he told OBSERVER ONLINE.
Rollen made his recording debut as a gospel act in 2008 with the album, ‘Room at the Cross’ which was followed by ‘He has Made a Way’ in 2012. Recently, he released his third gospel set, ‘Why Worry’ (when you can pray).
Now an ordained minister who is pastor of Wisdom Sabbath Ministries in Plantation, Fort Lauderdale, Rollen says ‘Why Worry’ sums up his outlook on life.
“I’m at peace, touching and changing lives in a meaningful way,” he said.
The 62-year-old Rollen co-produced nine of the 13 songs on ‘Why Worry’ which he co-produced with keyboardist Jason Farmer. One of the songs, ‘Household of Faith’, is a duet with his wife Dawn Marie.
Rollen was raised in the Greenwich Farm community of Kingston, an area that was bursting with musical talent in the early 1970s. Singers Slim Smith, Delroy Wilson and John Holt were regulars there, recording hit songs for resident producer Bunny Lee.
Much of Rollen’s career was with the Youth Professionals band which included bassist Robbie Shakespeare, drummer ‘Benbow’ Creary and future Inner Circle keyboardist Bernard ‘Touter’ Harvey. He was also a member of harmony group, The Emotions.
In 1971, he teamed with producer Lloyd ‘Matador’ Daley and the Now Generation band to cut ‘Repatriation is a Must’ which supported the Rastafarian cry for mass return to Africa. Daley also produced Rollens’ follow-up song, ‘All That Glitters’.
Rollen recorded several albums including ‘Prevail’ and ‘Role Model’, but has given up the secular scene for inspirational music and a different lifestyle.
“I do a lot of charity work and counselling in the community. Just reaching out to those in need makes it all worthwhile,” he said.
By Howard Campbell—