Despite Being Compared to a "Legend", Soul Singer, Rogerhill Music is Forging His Own Path!
In my experience, ROGERHILL MUSIC is one of the most motivated independent artists I know. His motivation and drive are astounding. Although he began his music career late in life, he has more fire than many young artists. One of the things he possesses that many independent artists lack is the ability to perceive the fact that hard work is synonymous with success. Not only is he talented, but he knows what he needs to do to reach his goals. In my interview with Roger, I asked him what his journey has been like. Here's what he had to say.
Hi Roger, hi how are you? I'm fine, thank you
Awesome! Roger, tell me a little bit about your background, your childhood, and how you grew up? OK, so I'm originally a native of Rochester, NY and I've been singing since I was five years old. My sister and I used to sing at many different churches throughout the city and we were known as the “The Hill Sister and Brother Dual.”
Oh wow, that’s awesome! Yes, and during that time, we were being managed by “Lou Rawls” manager.
Lou Rawls? That’s major! Yes
Awesome! Now you were five years old at the time Lou Rawls's manager was managing you, am I correct? Yes, roughly around five or six years old.
Wow! You guys were young! We were. The funny thing about it was that at the time, I wasn't really interested in singing. In retrospect, I remember that my mother always dressed us up when we were young. Because my mother sowed, she would go to the store, buy a three-piece suit for me and then make a matching dress for my sister at home. As a result, during my performances, both my sister and I wore matching outfits.
That’s hilarious! (laughs) The funny thing is that I can see you guys up there singing back in the ’70s with your matching outfits and your butterfly collared 3-piece suit. That’s right.
Hilarious! I’m sure you both were super adorable! In those days, we wore hush puppies. At that time, my mother dressed us quite well.
So, you had all that going on, a three-piece butterfly suit and you didn't want to sing? Because I wanted to go out and have fun, I wasn't interested in singing. Everyone believed that my sister would have a successful singing career, so much so that she was called Diana Ross.
Wow! Ok. Sounds like she appeared to have the most interest in singing. Yes.
I remember being in church as a child and having to sing. I was traumatized. As a 5-year-old, I’m sure it was extremely intimidating to be on the stage with all those adults staring at you. In fact, I recall being on stage and not wanting to open my mouth, and my mother would always give me this look.
Oh, I know that look all so well. (laugh) As I looked over there and saw her sitting in those pews, my mom would be gritting her teeth and looking at me, like “boy, you had better open your mouth and sing” (laughs)
Oh no! Not the gospel stare from the church pews! Uh huh! (laughs)
Wow! (laughs) In the beginning, my sister was thought to be the star singer in the family; however, as time progressed, this opinion changed. As a result, my sister became the focus of attention. Essentially, Mr. Banks, our manager, arranged for us to do a variety of gigs, but I became interested in other things.
Ok, what was your other interest? As far as I was concerned, I was more interested in playing sports than anything else. I was also interested in the field of construction.
Besides singing do you have a career that doesn't involve the arts? Aside from music, I also work in construction, and I build houses here in Atlanta. Furthermore, I am a licensed electrical and general contractor.
Even though you were not singing, did you have any kind of connection to music throughout your life? Throughout the years, I have always found myself in some form or fashion, among entertainers. When I was 10, my stepfather used to be a part of “The Rochester Gospel Workshop.” And the guy who worked and managed the radio station, “WDKX,” used to bring various gospel groups in like Willie Neal Johnson and The Keynotes, Slim and The Supreme Angels, Willie Banks, Dottie Peoples, and gospel acts such as those. So, I had the opportunity to meet all of them. Sadly, some of them are no longer with us.
How did you meet them? I used to work at the station. Believe it or not, at 10 years old, I had a job.
What were your job responsibilities? It was my responsibility to open the door as soon as the people disembarked from the bus and let them in. This was what he instructed me to do.
Oh, that's awesome! Did you get paid? Yes, they pay me. My salary at 10 years old was somewhere between $80-$100.
That’s awesome! Back then, that was good money.
What were the events that prompted you to return to singing? I would like to hear your story. Ok, when I was in college, I promoted parties. Now my cousin used to hang out with one of the biggest concert promoters in the country, Al Heymon. in fact, they started together from open shows. Going back to my previous statement, during that time, I started promoting little concerts. I also owned a nightclub for 12 years.
What was the name of the club? Club Fabulous in New York.
Ok. What kind of entertainment did you have in your club? Did you have performers or was it mostly a dancing venue? I built a stage there myself, but before I tell you more about the club, let's take a moment to go back a bit in time.
Ok. When I was promoting concerts, I’ll never forget the Calvin Richardson concert, because I wound up losing money. After that experience, I went to my mentor named Marietta. As a side note, she’s the reason why I moved from New York to Atlanta. Additionally, she held the position of General Director for the radio station mentioned above. So, I had a conversation with her about my fear of losing money on the Calvin Richardson show. She gave me her advice and I did exactly what she told me to do.
So, on the day of Calvin Richardson's concert, right before he goes up to perform, I get on the stage. Thus, right before Calvin Richardson takes to the stage on the day of his concert, I leap onto the stage to perform. I asked Calvin Richardson's band to play "Always and Forever," and I told them that I was going to sing it. They played, I sang, and I felt amazing!
That was the first time that anyone heard me sing at that age, and they were blown away!
How old were you at that time? I was 31 years old.
OK please continue to share? On my birthday, January 21st, I wind up with a club. So, every year on my birthday I will always have a national recording artist perform. One of the artists that I would consistently bring out was Angela Winbush. Angela Winbush's birthday is January 18th and mine on the 21st, so we celebrated our birthdays together. The other artist that I would bring up for my birthday was a comedian by the name of Nikki Carr. In addition to them, I had other artists such as Stone City Band, Bobby blue bland, and others.
Well, at these concerts, I would always try to find a place for me to get on stage and sing, but when I tried to do so no one was paying attention to me.
Long story short, I got tired of the club business, so I sold the club, and moved to Atlanta. After my arrival, I discovered a place called Kat’s Café, and Kat’s Café is owned by Kat, one of the members of the group Klymaxx. There are two different climax groups out at the present. She's a part of one of the two.
The two of us became very cool. Now, on Thursdays, they would have open mic night. So, Thursday became my weekend. Gina, I love that place because it reminded me of New York Undercover. So, I started to attend regularly, and then I concluded that I needed to learn more songs to be able to sing. I'll never forget the first time I got the nerve to sing a song sang by Donny Hathaway.
What song did you sing? I love Donny Hathaway! “A Song for You.”
What a beautiful song. Gina, I tore that song up! After I sang that song, I felt amazing! Then, I sang Heat Wave’s song, Always and Forever. I even learned Jodeci's song, the remix version of “Come and Talk to Me. “
Did you learn any other songs? Yes, one day I was listening to The Isley Brothers' song, Footsteps in the Dark” and I was determined to learn it. I mean, I rode around all day listening to it until I learned enough to perform it live. I just wanted to know enough to hold my own. I thought to myself, If I could fake it, I could make it.
So, the night that I sang “Footsteps in the Dark by The Isley Brothers, people went crazy. Some people even said I sound like Ron Isely.
Ok. So, every time I went there, I sang that same song. My goal was to master it. In any case, I began to sing other Isley Brothers' songs and I noticed that every time I sang one of their songs people seemed to be blown away by it.
One day a producer who happened to be hanging around at the time approached me and gave me his phone number with the request that I call him. Although I didn't think much of it, eventually I did make a call to him.
When was that? Around November of 2021. At the time I was feeling very low because my mother was ill. Because of what I was going through, when he was there, something overcame me, and I sang Footsteps in the Dark in a way I have never sung it before. I sang that song with soul and feeling! Kat even told me that she never heard me sing like that before. She was extremely impressed by what I did with that song. She said that I did a great job!
Then, she tells me that the producer whose name is "Will" has been trying to get in touch with me. Since he was on location, she suggested I speak to him at that moment. Therefore, I did so. I approached him, he gave me his number and he told me to call him. So, I decided to be smart and called him while I was there. After I called him, I said OK I called you. He asked me if I had ever written a song before, to which I replied that I had never done so, I only wrote poetry. He then told me he was going to give me two weeks to write lyrics to it.
So, while driving I would listen to the track. I thought to myself, “this doesn't sound too bad. “Next minute I know lyrics come to my head. It was a good thing that I kept a pen and paper with me in my car. The first lyrical line I wrote was, “Tonight's the Night” and later that day, I wrote, "oh, just say where you are cause tonight's the night for love, you're never too far.” All these lyrics I wrote down on that same paper. Two days later, I Finished the entire song.
And what was the name of that song? I named the song “Come Back to me.”
Awesome! What was the inspiration behind that song? The song was not really about anyone, but I will say this when I wrote the song, I prayed and asked God for the wisdom, knowledge, and strength to write it and my prayer was answered. Just two days later, the lyrics came to me.