Roland J. Simmonds
     Roland J. Simmonds
     Nova Scotia

  • 2006 Music Heritage Award, African Nova Scotian Music Association Award Show (ANSMA)

Roland (Roll) was born in North Preston on March 14, 1936 and is he son of the late Annie (Nee Cain) and Robert (Bob) Simmonds.

Roll attended a one-room school, grades primary to eight at which point he assisted his father at the local lumber mill and worked on the family farm. During his early teens he was employed by a farmer in Cole Harbour earning $2.00/week.

Roll attended Sunday School at St. Thomas United Baptist Church and was a member of the Baptist Youth People Union (BYPU). He was baptized in 1951.

His musical career commenced by singing in many churches of the AUBA. Two ladies who sang at St. Thomas United Baptist church were a source of inspiration to him, they were late Sister Emma Fraser and Sister Bridget Beals Downey, although his love for music came from listening to his father singing and playing the accordion at home.

Roll started playing a guitar by using an old card board box and two sticks as drums. The noise was too much for his parent’s ears to bear so in 1948 his father bought him a guitar (which he still has today). Levi Cain taught him how to play cords. In 1952 he was approached by Art Sampson and his combo band and they started entertaining at theatres community halls, hotels and arenas throughout Nova Scotia.

In 1958 Roll moved to Toronto and attended the Royal Conservatory of Music where he taught for several years. In 1970 Roll was blessed to perform at the IWK Children’s Hospital (especially for his nephew the late Pastor Ernest Earl Simmonds III).

In 1980 he moved to Winnipeg and did some recording for the Musak International Company and the Pilgrim Baptist Church Brotherhood choir.

For ten years, Roland performed with the fabulous Ink Spots, traveling across Canada, USA and other countries. He also performed with such stars as James Brown, Elvis Presley Bo Didley and others.

In 2003 Roland returned to Toronto, married Sharon Williams formerly of Cherry Brook. He and his wife reside in Toronto and both are active in the First Baptist Church where Roland plays lead guitar and assists with musical arrangements for the First Baptist Church Senior Choir.

His knowledge of music and compositions has added great dimension to the choir and he is well loved and appreciated by the choir and church members.

With his sincere warm heart, gracious smile and love for people, Roland continues sharing his blessing and God given talent wherever he goes.