Robert Colman was born in 1938.
His music career began in the church choir at the Presbyterian Church in Hurstville, Sydney. He took up singing lessons and won several Eisteddfods from the ages of 16-20. Robert sang in ‘The Messiah’ with the combined churches of NSW.
When he was 21, Robert made a decision to become a Christian at the 1959 Billy Graham Crusade in Sydney.
He won the Sydney ‘Sun’ Aria in 1961. His career took off and he found himself extremely busy with concerts, television and radio appearances around New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. He worked with the Arts Council Opera Company and in 1962 and was awarded a scholarship in London.
Shortly afterwards Robert travelled to the United Kingdom where he lived for the next 12 years. During that time, he married Carol in 1963 and they had two children - Sian was born in 1965 and Paul in 1967.
Nine days after arriving in London, he had a job with the BBC, singing and appearing on television. He also entered the musical theatre world of London's West End.
The break came when he played the part of Lancelot in “Camelot” at Drury Lane Theatre, which Robert considers the highlight of his ‘professional’ career. From there, he went on to do more television, worked in the West End, cabaret work in the north of England, television in Holland as well as doing some recordings. He played in the West End musical “Charlie Girl” with Dame Anna Neagle and Derek Nimmo and also in a musical called “Company” by Stephen Sondheim. He was involved in straight drama as well, doing some George Bernard Shaw.
He also performed in “The Desert Song” musical in 1967 at the Palace Theatre in the West End of London.
He returned to Australia in 1974 to play opposite Julie Anthony in “Irene”. While Robert and his wife Carol were in Melbourne, they went along to Blackburn Baptist Church. Robert comments, “This was rather unusual for us coming from a Presbyterian Church in London - I was in fact a Presbyterian elder. But we were welcomed there and the fellowship and teaching was so good that we stayed.”
After Robert and family had been there for six months, the head pastor, Roland Croucher (who, interestingly, went to the same school in Sydney), asked Robert to give his testimony. He mentioned that he had had an experience with the Holy Spirit and that he had been baptised in the Holy Spirit in London in 1972. Robert had made Jesus Lord of his life and was 100% committed to him.
Rowland arrived at Robert’s doorstep a couple of days later and said, “Robert, I've got a question for you. I don't want you to answer it, I want you to pray about it.” He said “You're 100% committed to Jesus, what's your commitment to your career?”
Robert reflected, “I really had to rethink things. The Lord had already put in our hearts that we would be working in Christian ministry full time in some capacity. It was just a few months later that the church called me to be a pastor.” Robert and Carol joined the staff on the 1st July 1975 and were there until 1989. Robert went on to work with Blackburn Baptist for three years.
For a period of time he toured around Australia leading worship seminars and then rejoined Blackburn Baptist Church. By this time, the church had relocated and changed its name to ‘Crossway Baptist’. Robert became the Director of Creative Ministries and led the church into a new era of worship and singing. He was well known for exhorting people to worship Jesus in new ways that touched hearts and spirits.
In 1979, Robert commented in an ON BEING interview about going into full-time Christian ministry, “I can see it was the right decision. Again, I have a deep knowledge that I have been doing what God wanted me to do. Therefore it has been very fulfilling, far more fulfilling than I ever imagined full-time Christian ministry could be. I thought that the theatre life, the applause of the crowd and the recognition and so forth, was very fulfilling, and to an extent it was. But I see now that working totally, 100% for the Lord Jesus Christ is the most fulfilling occupation I could have.”
Robert made numerous recordings. The “Let Me Introduce You” album came out in 1976 followed by “My Tribute” in 1978. "The Lord's Prayer" was released in 1979 and “This Is The Song”, “Live at Sydney Opera House” and "The Best Of Robert Colman" in 1980. The “He Touched Me” album was recorded in Nashville, USA in 1980. He was soloist, conductor and producer of the "Reach Out To Jesus" album which was recorded by the Leighton Ford Reachout Crusade Choir in 1979.
Robert toured extensively around Australia. He sold out the Sydney Opera House twice in his concerts. There were also sell out crowds in Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. He appeared with Evie Tornquist, Joni Erikson, Family, Ken Medema, Keith Green, Larry Norman, Amy Grant, and many other Christian artists while they were on tour.
In 1979, “The Witness” musical was toured around Australia and New Zealand. The production was seen by over 60,000 people in 24 cities. The Witness was the story of Jesus told and sung by Peter - “the witness” - and the other men and women who knew him best. Robert Colman acted out Peter, the fisherman who became an apostle. For Robert this was his first return to a stage musical since he played in “Irene” in 1972.
He also appeared on the Channel 7 “Discovering Jesus” show with Gordon Moyes in the 1980s.
Robert served at Blackburn Baptist Church from 1975-1989, Gateway Baptist Church in Brisbane from 1989-1993, Crossway Baptist Church from 1995-2007, Belgrave South Baptist from 2007-2015 and Essendon Baptist from 2015-17.
• Some information was gleaned from PLANET magazine article “Where Is He Now?” by Don Gillespie.
• Also excerpts from Dec.1978-Jan.1979 issue of ON BEING interview by Anna Powell.
• Information for “The Witness” musical from a KEYSTONE magazine article from Oct.-Nov. 1979 issue.
Robert and Carol Colman 1979
Click on the "My Tribute" album to access songs.
Click on image above to access the KEYSTONE report on "The Witness" musical.
Published Oct./Nov. 1979
Robert on the right performing at "The Witness" musical.
Robert performed in "The Desert Song" in 1967. Click on the album cover for more detail.
Robert Colman in London 1967
Above: An advert in the Feb.-April 1981 edition of KEYSTONE magazine.
Above: An advert in the Dec.'79-Jan. 1980 edition of KEYSTONE magazine.