Roumain, who is widely known by the moniker DBR, grew up in southeast Florida and graduated from Dillard High School for the Performing Arts. A generous financial aid package and the encouragement of his parents and several Blair School of Music professors led Roumain to choosing Vanderbilt in 1989.
“It was a difficult time to be a black Haitian-American student on campus, which lacked diversity and a culture of inclusiveness, to say the least,” Roumain said. “However, several professors—including Michael Kurek, Michael Alec Rose and Christopher Teal—and Chancellor Joe B. Wyatt and Dean K.C. Potter were very supportive of my interests.”
Roumain covered arts and entertainment stories for The Hustler and an arts magazine within the paper called Ripple. “Interviews with musical heavyweights like violinist Mark O’Connor, banjoist Bela Fleck and then-Nashville Symphony conductor Kenneth Schermerhorn were wonderful,” Roumain said. “I also met Bill Conti, who wrote the Rocky movie theme.”
A special memory for Roumain was writing a musical piece called “Haitian Essay,” which was performed by the Vanderbilt Symphony Orchestra with then-Haitian President Jean Bertrand-Aristide visiting Nashville and in attendance. Roumain performed the Haitian national anthem at a reception for Bertrand-Aristide.
After receiving his bachelor of music from Vanderbilt in 1993, Roumain earned his doctorate at the University of Michigan.
Roumain has won an Emmy for outstanding musical composition for his collaborations with ESPN; created works for Carnegie Hall, Boston Pops and Library of Congress; and led the creation of the chamber opera “We Shall Not Be Moved,” which was cited by The New York Times as one of the best classical musical performances of 2017. He has collaborated with singer Lady Gaga, brainiac turntablist DJ Spooky and composer Philip Glass, among others.
Roumain, who has been a visiting composition professor at the Blair School, is currently teaching at Arizona State University.