Eight recording artists across a variety of musical genres recently reimagined ESPN’s NBA theme music.
Thousands of fans voted for their favorite rendition on the SportsNation section of ESPN.com. Ed Roland and the Sweet Tea Project produced the winning rendition, which will be featured during ESPN’s exclusive telecast of the Sprint NBA Celebrity All-Star Game tomorrow night at 7 p.m. ET. Front Row spoke to Roland about the honor, the band’s debut album coming in 2013 and life on the road:
How did the Sweet Tea Project come to be?
It started about a little over a year ago. Collective Soul [another Roland band] had about a month off. These guys I’ve been friends with for a while and I reconnected. They all ended up at my house and I showed them some songs that I was working on. We thought it would be kind of fun to see what we could do with this. Because it’s my voice, we wanted to make it separate and different from Collective Soul. We had a lot of fun with it.
How’d you come up with the name?
It’s a very Southern thing. We wanted to have an Americana flavor. There’s nothing more American or Southern than sweet tea. That’s what we grew up drinking.
What were you hoping to capture with your ESPN NBA theme rendition?
We use a banjo, the dobro and a trumpet, not on every song but throughout pieces of our album. So, we thought: “Let’s throw all three of those in the mix for this rendition.” It definitely is a Sweet Tea arrangement with our own unique sound.
Your fans also mobilized across the Internet to vote. What does that mean to you?
It’s a good start for us because they haven’t heard much from us yet. It makes me feel good that they are enjoying it and accepting us. We’re playing in Atlanta for now but beginning in March, we’re doing a regional tour through the Southeast states, so they can hear more.
What is it like to work with ESPN on a project like this?
I’m an ESPN nut and just to be a part of anything with ESPN is so cool. It really is an honor for us. I’m a huge Atlanta sports fan, too. It’s been a really rough year for us in football, but here come the Braves.