Coming from a non-musical family it was the influence of one the most known rock singers of all time that led Roland Grant into a life of music.
“I’ve been listening closely to music since I was a young child and I always was trying to figure out the melodies on my guitar. I saw a picture of Elvis on a cassette tape when I was six years old and I wanted to learn how to play the guitar and I wanted to become Elvis and ever since it’s been a lifelong obsession,” said Grant who is starting his tour of five Ontario cities at Kitchener’s Registry Theatre on June 7.
While he is primarily a flamenco artist that wasn’t always the case for the Nova Scotia resident.
“In my teenage years I spent most of my musical life playing rock and roll and heavy metal and blues. And it was later on I really fell in love with Latin and flamenco music. I wanted to combine the two in my own way, and I fell in love with the passion and the energy and the melodies and that’s how I came up with the sound I have now,” Grant explained.
His genre-spanning influences are described as rock fused prominently with Latin and Spanish guitar, at times incorporating orchestral elements. Grant’s studio releases to date are his debut album Equilibrium (2018) and his purely classical Piano Quintet (2021). As an orchestral composer, Grant’s Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra premiered in 2019 with the composer as soloist. He was awarded the prize for Best Tonal Music at the 2017 International Antonín Dvořák Composition Competition held in Prague, Czech Republic, of which he is a two-time finalist.
Grant recently released a self-produced music video for Nacido del Fuego which was the single from his 2018 album Equilibrium. With limited resources Grant made do with what he had.
“It had no production manager. All I had was my staff. My director, who was a cameraman, his assistant and friend helping carry the gear. We carried all the amplifiers and the guitar cases up to a 17-storey rooftop. I was wearing my work clothes and work boots. Shed those donned my stage clothes to do some takes and then back into the work clothes back down 17 stories,” he said.
“I always find a way and that’s my motto going forward, always finding a way even if the resources are scarce and don’t seem to allow for it. I was going to find a way to create something new, something bigger, something more colourful.”
Grant also composed classical piano music which he said allows him to write something that has no commercial impetus.
“It’s purely art for art’s sake,” he said.
His second album features several musicians including pianist Peter Allen.
“It’s especially a treat when I get fine classical musicians to perform my work as they did on the album. I had some wonderful players on that album so that was a long time dream to get some of my classical music recorded,” he said.
While Grant doesn’t find it hard to switch between the genres of Classical and Flamenco it is a balancing act.
“I find it hard to find the time to write classical music because I spend so much time working on the guitar stuff that I hardly have time to write my orchestra music and when I do it’s very precious. It’s those precious few precious hours in the evening or in the early morning before I get into the craziness of practicing for a tour or writing a new single,” he added.
Following the Ontario tour, Grant plans on producing another single and an accompanying music video. He hopes to tour in the United States and Europe next year. He notes that he has some big goals.
“I’m always thinking loftily with my head in the clouds. My sights are always set on something loft,” he said.
Roland Grant takes to the stage at 8 p.m. June 7 at the Registry Theatre, 122 Frederick St., Kitchener.