Renowned for his passionate vocals, Ed Roland is best known as the frontman and principal songwriter of platinum selling rock band Collective Soul, With seven #1 hits under his belt, Roland also stays busy with his rootsier band Ed Roland & the Sweet Tea Project and has solo projects in the works as well. The producer and two-time Georgia Music Hall of Fame inductee is also a father, an avid golfer, a guitar and art collector and supports various charities in his community.
Early musical influences for the Georgia native were his mother, who played piano in the church, and his father who was the minister of music before he became a minister. The first record Roland ever bought was Elton John and he says “that’s what got me into rock and roll.” In 2000, Roland fulfilled a dream of singing with his music idol on Collective Soul’s fifth album, Blender, when he sang duet “Perfect Day” with Elton John.
After finishing high school, Roland studied songwriting and guitar at Berklee College of Music in Boston for one year. He was the lead engineer and producer at Real 2 Reel Studios in Stockbridge, Georgia for eight years.
In 1985, Roland was in a band called The Eddie Band and another band during the late 1980s and early 1990s called Marching Two-Step, which also included future producer and music executive Matt Serletic, future executive Michelle Rhea Caplinger and longtime Collective Soul drummer Shane Evans.
Roland released an indie album called Ed-E Roland in 1991. The album showcased his abilities to compose, record, and produce his own original music.
Roland changed the name of his band to Collective Soul and released Hints, Allegations & Things Left Unsaid in 1993 on a label called Rising Storm. It was a compilation of some of Roland’s songwriting demos created when he worked at Real 2 Reel Studios. This collection eventually caught the attention of a college radio station in Orlando, Florida and several other college radio stations began to play “Shine” and it became an underground hit. The popularity of the song and band was convincing enough that Atlantic Records signed Collective Soul in 1993 to a long-term major label contract. Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid was re-released worldwide in early 1994. The band experienced a sudden rise from obscurity to fame.
The multi-platinum quintet has been making music for two decades since then and has a catalog of #1 hits under their belts. Collective Soul helped shape and define alternative rock with lots of guitars and attitude. The band is set to release its ninth album on October 2, “See What You Started by Continuing,” with tour scheduled to hit more than 30 cities in the fall.
In 2011, Roland formed Ed Roland & the Sweet Tea Project with a group of friends and musicians. Named after the drink that is a cultural trademark of the band’s home region, the band began serendipitously when Roland began reconnecting with the rich club and coffeehouse scene in Atlanta. On random nights, he would invite popular local musicians to his house to jam on tunes he had written that reached outside the stylistic jurisdiction of Collective Soul, including “Going to Birmingham,” one of the highlights from their debut album Devils ‘n Darlins that Roland penned on the ukulele. In 2012, the Sweet Tea Project’s cover version of “Shelter from the Storm” was released on Chimes of Freedom: Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International, a four-disc compilation of Bob Dylan covers. The Americana band is set to release a second album in early 2016.
In addition to his two bands, Roland also has solo projects in the works. He describes his solo music as “lyrically very personal and a little bit more relaxed” than the “guitars and attitude” of Collective Soul and the “more organic, acoustic vibe of Sweet Tea Project.
Roland is also an avid golfer and has been honored to play at some of the most beautiful courses in the world. Roland played golf for the first time 20 years ago when Collective Soul was on tour with Van Halen. Eddie Van Halen popped his head into the band’s tour bus and announced, “Tomorrow we are playing golf.” The game has become a passion for Roland ever since. Roland insists he plays for fun and to enjoy the company he is with. His current handicap is 15, while his lowest has been 9. He has played in various tournaments including the Zurich ProAm and the BMW ProAm in Greensboro, SC.
Roland supports various charities and focuses on organizations close to home in Atlanta. In 2013, Ed Roland received the Youth Catalyst Award from Usher’s New Look Foundation. Each year, Roland does a charity event at Christmas at Atlanta’s Eddie’s Attic to support local organizations.
Roland is an avid collector of guitars and currently has a 148 at his home. His collection is ever-evolving and he has “cheap ones, rare ones and all of the in between ones.” He also collects photography and art.
Roland lives in Atlanta, Ga., with his wife and has two son ages 6 and 17.