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M. Roger Holland to head Black Catholic music at GIA

M. Roger Holland, a stories liturgist out of Denver, has been named editor of Black Catholic music for perhaps the largest Catholic publisher in the US.

Denver-based liturgist M. Roger Holland II, a living legend in his own right, has been named editor of GIA’s Black Catholic music collection.

“I am honored and humbled to work with GIA in this new role,” Holland said in a statement released by GIA.

“I see this as an opportunity to reshape the tonal mosaic of the landscape in liturgical music, one that is more representative of the Catholic Church in the United States."

Entitled “Spirit and Truth”, the catalog was previously under the wing of World Library Publications (WLP), which was purchased by GIA in late 2019.

Holland currently teaches at the University of Denver, where he is director of The Spirituals Project at the Lamont School of Music. Last month, he was also named artist-in-residence at Denver’s Kantorei choir for the 2021-22 season.

An active recording artist, he has also released multiple albums on the GIA label, including some of the only Black Catholic gospel albums released in the last decade. These include “Building Up the Kingdom” in 2014 and “Honey from the Rock”, a 4-volume set of antiphons released on two discs in 2016 and 2017.

GIA has also published a number of his other compositions, including a popular Gospel Mass setting sometimes used in a US version of the Zaire Use of the Roman Rite. He also has another Gospel Mass release on GIA.

Last year, GIA released a set of albums accompanying the second edition of the “Lead Me, Guide Me” Black Catholic hymnal, including an album of 48 lectionary psalms recorded by Holland and a group of other singers.

He also penned an “Ode to Sr. Thea” in 2020, a rare composition dedicated to one of the African Americans on the path to sainthood.

Holland has also written music for Unity Explosion, an annual Black Catholic liturgy conference in Texas.

He continues to serve as a consultant for the Office of Black Ministry in the New York archdiocese. The archbishop, Cardinal Dolan, awarded him the Pierre Toussaint Medallion for Service in 2016. (He also performed at the awards ceremony.)

GIA, originally established as the Gregorian Institute of America in 1941, long ago shed its stricter chant-based roots, expanding its purview and becoming arguably the largest Catholic music publisher in the US since being sold to new owners shortly after Vatican II.

It would seem Holland is the perfect fit for their future, and their senior managing editor Kate Williams expressed as much in the statement on his hiring.

“With his vital perspective and ability to apply both critical and pastoral considerations to our body of work, we can better see and hear the fullness of the image and likeness of God.”

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, in priesthood formation with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).