After much anticipation, finally, here is the formula to success: youth, talent, and church. This is all a person really needs to get far in life. Well, maybe that isn’t the exact science, but it sure does work for some people. Let’s take, say, Joshua Rogers for example. He is nineteen years old, has a voice reminiscent of an old pro that has been here and done all of this before, and on top of that he is completely on fire for his Lord and savior. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t mind giving this formula a try.
Currently the youngest as well as only male to ever win the Kirk Franklin produced, BET gospel singing competition “Sunday’s Best,” Joshua Rogers is a man on a mission. With the feedback of his newly released album Unconditional which debuted at #2 on the Billboard Gospel charts, Rogers is determined to spread the gospel the best way he knows how; SINGING! Yet, like a true man of his people, even with a hectic schedule baiting him every which direction, Rogers still managed to answer a few questions with us:
Parlé Magazine: Okay, so at the age of 18 years old you were the youngest and only male to ever win Sunday’s Best. Now at the age of 19 you have your debut album Unconditional in stores now. You must be on the ride of your life. How do you remain humble and level headed?
Joshua Rogers: Well I definitely am on the ride of my life. The past year has been incredibly great. I have so many opportunities that I did not have before. So far all the feedback I’ve been getting from this album has been great. As far as staying humble, well that’s definitely my team and my family. It’s just important to have people around you that don’t necessarily give you a “yes” to everything. People who are willing to give you what you need to hear and not always what you want to hear. That really helps a lot.
Parlé: How young were you when you started singing? What exactly is your singing back story growing up in South Carolina?
Joshua Rogers: Well I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember. I originally started singing in church, I think around the age of 5 or 6. My grandmother started her own church when I was around the age of 7 and I’ve been singing ever since. I started singing in school a lot while I was in junior high. But I kept singing so much that it really progressed to a point where I had to decide what I was going to do after high school. So around 15/16 years old I was like, ‘Josh you really need to figure out what you’re going to do.’ Of course, I had an excuse for everything until one day I just sat down and said, ‘Josh, what is it you love to do?’ and I came up with music. So I started doing local competitions back home, won some big ones and got the opportunity to try out for Sunday’s Best. It’s funny cause I graduated high school four days before they flew me out to tape the show.
Parlé: Tell me about Unconditional, what sort of narrative are you going for in it? What sets your album apart from all the rest?
Joshua Rogers: Well for one the fact that it is original music. My last album, the first one, was strictly songs I performed on the show. This one is more personal to me. I got the opportunity to write on it, about four tracks including the single “So Good” and the title track “Unconditional.” Beyond that, just having the opportunity to decide what you want the people to know about you really hits home. It actually gives the people for the very first time since the show an opportunity to sit down with me and get to know the kind of person I am. I am moving away from just being the Sunday’s Best winner to being an individual artist. The main message and point I wanted to hit in the album is that the one thing that never changes is the love of God. He’s kept me through everything, although I have made mistakes, although I’ve done things wrong, he’s always been there. So I just want the world to know, especially as church people, yes you’re going to make mistakes but at the end of the day you are human.
Parlé: Obviously God is a big influence on you and your life. How do you feel your relationship with God is now? Do you think it has grown stronger since all your new found fame? How do you keep that relationship tight with so much going on?
Joshua Rogers: Well again that has a lot to do with the team I keep around me. You know a relationship with God is similar to a relationship with anybody or anything else. You have to put in the time. So when you’re seeking a relationship with God you have to pray, fast, read your bible, it all helps to strengthen that relationship and strengthen that bond.
Parlé: Did you always know you’d be a gospel singer? Have you ever toyed with the idea of doing another genre? With a voice like yours I’m sure you had at least one person encouraging you to go the mainstream route.
Joshua Rogers: I was, I was, actually I recently said I was going out for American Idol. But as I started to watch the show more I really grew to not like Simon. I’m not sure if you remember but the year Paris was on I got real upset. When Paris didn’t make it on I said, “American Idol be cheatin’.” So yeah, from that moment on I said I would never do it, and actually never watched it again. So after that I was looking at shows like “X-Factor,” stuff like that, but then I just sat back a realized that gospel has my heart. To have a gift like this given from God, there is no better way to use it.
Parlé: How are your family/friends reacting to all your success?
Joshua Rogers: Well honestly my circle of friends has actually gotten much smaller. With being elevated and blessed the way I am now you begin to find out who your real friends. You find out who the people are that really care about you no matter what happens, no matter what changes. The friends that I’ve kept or the friends that have stayed really mean a lot to me. To see the people who you thought were there for you completely turn their backs on you is kind of heartbreaking. So you begin to really value what you have left, and what I have left are great people who genuinely care. The type of people who don’t expect anything in return but just genuinely want to be there for you. It really means a lot to me, from my mom to my manager, who was my friend before my manager, to my best friend back home, they really mean a lot to me.
Parlé: What is it like working with Mathew Knowles?
Joshua Rogers: It’s great, it is really great, I actually had the opportunity while figuring out the plans for this album to really sit down and talk to him. It is really amazing for him to be someone so much older than me we really have some of the same ideals and views. He really is a great and intelligent man. It is crazy to see where Beyoncé originated. It’s just incredible to have such a person like him truly believe in me. Actually in an email prior to the release date of my album he basically said to me he really thought I was a special person. He said that he feels I could go just as far as anyone else in the gospel industry and he’s sees just as much talent in me as he does his daughter. Him saying that was very special to me.
Parlé: What could we catch Joshua Rogers doing when he’s not making an appearance or singing? Do you have any hobbies, or play any sports maybe?
Joshua Rogers: Well I’m not the biggest sports guy. I mean I do make an incredible water boy, but for the most part I just like to sit around and have fun. I like to play video games. Even if I’m not singing for a particular performance I still do sing all the time. Sometimes I just sit on Youtube watching videos and singing along. I like to go out to movies and stuff with friends even though I can’t go out as much as I have before. I really enjoy doing that, bowling, skating, as long as everyone I’m with is having fun.
Parlé: Okay, bringing it back to you as an artist, what is it you wish to accomplish with your music?
Joshua Rogers: For one, especially for young people, I want them to know that church is what you make it. A lot of times, I know especially from where I’m from, we have this big traditional aspect to church. It tends to be real boring, laid back, makes you want to go to sleep, especially if you’re not saved. I want young people to know that the same amount of fun you can have at a Mary J. Blige, or Chris Brown concert, you can have that same amount of fun at gospel concert. Also, at the end of the day you gain so much more. It’s more about you just enjoying what you see and hear, it is about you changing your life. It is about changing your mind set. So that’s one thing I really want to get out there.
Parlé Mag: So I’m a young kid with a big voice. I have so my opportunities open to me. I have so many people pulling me in different directions. What advice would you have for me?
Joshua Rogers: Sit down and figure out what you’re passionate about. Figure out where your heart lies. Once you figure out where your heart lies, figure out the people around you that have the same heart as you. People that are going to push you, and make sure that even when you might feel like giving up they will be there for you. Also, be prepared for people and things out there trying to stop you, and don’t let them stop you.
All in all, if you’re looking for a Gospel album sung by a person who ministers yet also knows the realities of being human, than Unconditional is the album for you. It is in stores now so do not hesitate to pick up your copy.
You can also follow Joshua Rogers on twitter: @thejoshuarogers
Images by Reggo Wilson for Parlé Magazine
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