When Rome Herbert was about 8 years old, he frequently attended spoken word shows with his mother in Indianapolis and was inspired by her artistic talent.
“I knew I wanted to do spoken word because of the way [it] could move the audience and elicit emotions,” Herbert said.
However, he was also influenced by music, specifically hip-hop and rap.
“Hip-hop was the perfect fusion of [spoken word]“, said Herbert, “but also … the music that people liked more around me.
Herbert said mental illness was actively present in his childhood. According to Mayo Clinic . He spent most of his childhood moving between his mother’s and grandmother’s homes.
Herbert’s parents lived in the northwest suburbs of Indianapolis, but he most often lived with his grandmother near the east side of town, according to his site biography.
“As a product of black American schizophrenia, I’m referring to this idea that black people in America have to live two different lives – one that’s acceptable and assimilates to white America, and then comes back to darkness,” Herbert said.
When Herbert was around 12, he dedicated himself to becoming a hip-hop artist and sold his first mixtapes at age 16 to other high school students. He said his strong Christian faith inspired him to pursue a career in music, and the message of his songs and his brand would revolve around faith, hope and love – three key qualities. who helped him face the challenges of his childhood.
Herbert started studying telecommunications at Ball State in 2014, but changed his major to creative writing after taking a creative writing option. In a class with associate professor of English Brian Morrison, Herbert said he and his classmates would share poems with each other and offer commentary, which changed Herbert’s songwriting process.
“This [class] helped me a lot to be open to criticism and improvement from other artists, to share drafts of my songs, and to get constant feedback to improve,” Herbert said. “This experience has helped me learn to let others be more involved in my process.”
While attending Ball State, Herbert performed shows on and around campus, including Be Here Now in the Village and Uggly’s Bar and Grill on the south side of Muncie. He carried a notebook in which he invited his fans to write comments after the shows.
“The word I heard from everyone was ‘bold, bold, bold,'” Herbert said. , at its core, is something to listen to instead of be afraid of.
In 2018, Josh Holowell, senior pastor of City Hope Fellowship in downtown Muncie, launched an internship where he hired Herbert as one of three interns. He noticed Herbert in his speeches and sermons at the Impact Ministry at Ball State, which champions the black community and its spiritual leaders.
As an intern, Herbert worked to start a ministry at Muncie Central High School and the Youth Opportunity Center in Muncie. However, the two processes never became full-fledged programs due to COVID-19 concerns, he said.
“He worked really hard to connect with everyone in our town — and he was just like everyone in our town,” Holowell said. “[Herbert] was somehow influential in the organization of some [the] things in which we participated.
After Herbert’s one-year internship ended, he moved on to work part-time for the City Hope Fellowship as outreach director and guest preacher for Sunday sermons.
“I think [Herbert] was our most gifted preacher on the staff, including myself,” Holowell said. “He had a sort of prophetic bent…he saw and called out injustice or sin…and also brought the hope of Jesus to the situation, always.”
Herbert returned to Indianapolis in August 2021 but maintains a connection with his fanbase — whom he calls “the Romans” — via Thursday night Twitch streams and a Patreon page.
The main reason Herbert moved back to Indianapolis was to be closer to his 86-year-old grandmother, who “had a huge impact” on his life and was aging and needed more care, he said. .
After returning to Indianapolis, Herbert reconnected with Alvin Laguerre, another hip-hop artist and 2021 Ball State graduate he met through the Impact movement.
“The path [Herbert] talking and chasing people has always stayed with me,” Laguerre said. “Just by meeting him, he made me feel known and loved and heard my story.”
Laguerre said he discovered that Herbert was also a hip-hop artist while getting to know him. Eventually they began to work together, where their discipleship became music.
As a fellow hip-hop artist, Laguerre calls himself “Alvin the Architect,” alluding both to his studies of architecture at Ball State and to the mission behind his songs to build people against fear, fear, and freedom. anxiety and self-doubt.
Laguerre also immigrated to the United States in 2009 from Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti.
“When I immigrated to the United States, I faced a lot of these feelings, so it’s only natural that my
the music would reflect that and show that we can overcome through faith, hope and love,” Laguerre said.
Laguerre and Herbert meet every Monday to spend time together and compose music, with Laguerre serving as producer and Herbert as lyricist and songwriter.
“I think it’s funny because my sound is completely different from Rome’s sound,” Laguerre said.
Herbert is currently working on an EP for his Patreon supporters, “For The Bold”, as well as producing singles to be released on Spotify each month this year, although he said he has several other aspirations, such as releasing new merchandise or certain synchronization licenses.
Although he continues to expand his brand and grow as an artist, Herbert said the message of his songs continues to revolve around faith, hope and love.
“For music, in particular, my main appeal is that I want you to experience being bold and fighting fear,” Herbert said.
Contact Miguel Naranjo with comments at [email protected].