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Musician Since Childhood


Abdullah RolleAbdullah  Rolle was born in East London and has been a Muslim for five years. About one and a half years ago he started putting together his first CD which was launched this year at the Global Peace and Unity Conference, held in London.


Before converting to Islam, Rolle worked in the music industry for about twenty years. He grew up with one of his sisters playing guitar and classical piano, and he learned piano when he was young. He studied music in London and attended music workshops where young people had the chance to jam. In this way, he was able to watch professional musicians and in those days music fascinated him. He especially loved watching the professionals. One of his sisters was a singer and had a few releases.


Rolle remembers, “Friends took me to a music workshop and I saw a well-known artist recording and I was amazed. The whole thing – the recording in the studio, all the buttons to push and the bright lights fascinated me.”  During his musical career he was playing piano, but he never really got into singing. He studied piano and the basics of music, like scales and he worked long hours at this. He was soon to discover he was a talented singer. “One day at a workshop I got a microphone and started to sing. Lots of people were listening and liked my sound. That was when I started to develop my singing ability,” says Rolle. With natural talent, Rolle spent about three years studying music and vocal arrangement and enjoyed being with musicians. He used to go to studios and shows and saw how the whole business runs. In those days, he produced albums for Sinead O Connor in London and Alexander O Neil.


Finding Islam


Rolle observes that there are not many positive messages in music today. He stopped listening to mainstream music a year after becoming a Muslim. At first people tried to introduce him to Islam but he was not ready to listen. He had been taught about Jesus, not Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). At that time he was continually around musicians and had adopted their lifestyle. At the same time, he was interested in learning about current affairs and was amazed at how the media so readily attacked Islam and Muslims. Especially after the invasion of Iraq, he became more interested in learning about Islam and he felt sympathy for the plight of the Muslims. He started to seek divine guidance and before long learnt about Islam from a variety of DVDs in a bookshop in London.


Before accepting Islam, Rolle was teaching music to children in city learning centers. He focused on the needs of troubled youth who were having problems at home and had become lost in society. After becoming Muslim he drifted away from this, fearing that music is not permissible but having his own studio he was to find himself still drawn toward composing and singing.

Nasheed Artist Emerges

He was using his studio to prepare CDs of scholars’ lectures. He had not intended to get involved in music again but then one day he was watching Islam Channel and saw nasheed artists. Even though the songs were excellent, he was not satisfied with their performance. He found that Zain Bhikha was the best. However, until then he was still not thinking about singing himself. Then one day he went to his studio, and felt inspired to write a song and he started to sing. He wrote the chorus in one day and composed at the same time. He put the beat for the timing and put the chords to keep in tune. Then he pulled the beat and the music out and did the backing vocals and put some layers. That was about one year and a half ago.


He did not have the intention to do anything more with nasheeds after that. He just wanted to finish the song and it took a while to do that. What made him move on to the second song was a brother who had asked him to convert his tapes to CDs and Rolle played the song to him. The man loved it and encouraged Rolle to make some more songs. He was busy at that time, but he persevered and after three months the brother helped him get some sponsors. Rolle writes most of the lyrics himself and also does the composing.


While recording his current CD he was going through a very difficult time. “By the grace of Allah I was able to finish the album. I’m just hoping that Allah accepts it,” says Rolle. He has received very positive feedback about this CD from young and old; everyone seems to love it. Their comments make him want to keep going. “The great response has encouraged me to do it for the sake of Allah,’ observes Rolle. He has received comments like: ‘The Ummah needs more people like you’;  ‘This song opened my eyes’; ‘I’ll never listen to music again after listening to this’  and ‘This makes me want to do more’.


Rolle comments, “I have a gift and I’ll try to use it as much as I can to call people to Allah. This is part of my little contribution to Islam.” Rolle wants to go to the prisons and perform some nasheeds and spend some time mentoring the youth. He concludes, “I’m not into the hype because people can get carried away. I have to be truthful and real.” Rolle will launch his CD Peace in Durban, South Africa in early 2009 and looks forward to launching his second CD in 2009.


(This article was first published on www.islamonline.net)

Abdullah Rolle - Musician to Muslim to Nasheed Artist

Muslims making
a Difference