Jazz musician seeks help to return to prestigious American music school

Musician Roella Oloro.

Roella Oloro is raising money to return to a prestigious American music school. - Credit: Patricia Pascal

A jazz musician is looking for help in raising £23,000 to return to a prestigious music school in America. 

Hackney resident Roella Oloro, 23, has a scholarship to Berklee College of Music, Boston, but the private establishment requires her to show she can afford to live there. 

Having already raised £27,000 in 2019, the saxophone, piano and bass player moved to London from Gloucester in order to pursue her passion.

The decision to study stateside was born from her desire to explore the ‘original source’ of jazz. 

Roella returned to the UK in March 2020, due to the pandemic, and after a year of online learning she hopes to be back in Boston by autumn. 

She said: “I always felt like I had it in me to go where the music is best, where there are like-minded people. There aren’t a lot of people playing jazz in Gloucester, so I felt it has to be London, I have to go to London.

“Now I’m studying in the states because I want to learn jazz from the original source and learn from the Black American community in America.”

Most Read

Since moving back to London during the pandemic, Roella has launched multiple projects to fundraise her return, including live streams for New Gen Jazz, Jazz Re:freshed, National Youth Jazz Orchestra at Ronnie Scott’s, and the Berklee Anywhere concert series.

She has also created television scores for BBC4’s Buttercup by Dorcase Sebuyange, and an arrangement of Whitney Houston’s When You Believe, which was featured in Decca Records’ Jazz album.

Simultaneously she balances the Berklee schedule on a five-hour time difference, some classes beginning at 8am and some finishing at 1.30am.

Roella at the Premises in Hackney.

Roella at The Premises in Hackney. - Credit: Carl Ulrich Russ-Mohl

Roella said: “You clock quickly you can Zoom on your phone, I’ve learned DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations), so I’ll have one ear in the class and one ear laying down the tracks for a collaboration.

“Out there it’s music 24/7, I need to preserve being in a musical atmosphere and you can’t do that in a residential area.”

The Premises, a legendary recording studio on Hackney Road, provided space for Roella to produce in daily, opening every day throughout the pandemic with a successful Covid-safety system.

Donate to Roella’s campaign here. Find details of her past and future projects at her Learn more on her Instagram and YouTube. To listen to Roella's debut single Sacrificial Lamb, visit www.youtu.be/LYmPbCgc9jo