HITS Daily Double


“I started writing and creating at 12, 13 years old and pretty much never stopped. Art has been a place where I can be more honest than I really am day to day,” says Justin Tranter protégé and Facet/Warner artist Jake Wesley Rogers. “There was always this kind of empowerment in the music. Songwriting gave me courage. Being able to write my story into music and then perform it and hopefully help people who need to feel free and accept their story—I think that’s what has carried me to this moment.”

At the age of 18, Rogers left his native Springfield, Mo., for college in Nashville—and his first publishing deal. “What I learned in Nashville and what has been proven to me over and over again is the more real I am with everyone, the more it creates this beautiful connection,” he says.

Only two years after graduation and in the midst of the pandemic, Rogers realized that he could essentially live anywhere. He chose New Orleans, for which he’d harbored a lifelong fascination. “For America, New Orleans is ancient,” he relates. “It has always been a hub for artists. You had [Edgar] Degas, Oscar Wilde and Walt Whitman coming here. I love how weird it is. Especially when I experiment with my gender fluidity, I need to be somewhere where I can just walk down the street in a skirt and people literally don’t care. I couldn’t do that in Nashville. Here, I feel like I can get away with a lot of things—a lot of good things.”

The time in a vibrant city filled with art—but not an industry town like NYC, Nashville or L.A.—has given Rogers a unique perspective on whom his music should be reaching, especially after the events of the last 10 years. “I’m keenly aware of the privilege of coming up when I have and how much has changed so fast. I earnestly have to express gratitude to the people who began this tapestry. Growing up, in sixth grade, for instance, Glee came on; Adam Lambert was on and he was out. Around the same time, Lady Gaga happened. All of a sudden in the media, I see this shift. In the moment, it made me feel, ‘I’m not crazy!’ Our goal is to find that 12-year-old kid in Missouri and get them our music.”

Rogers is now on the cusp of releasing songs he has been working on for the last three years; his latest single, “Momentary,” dropped 6/4. “This music that’s going to be unfolding over the next year, it was a really massive journey,” he says. “I was trying to educate myself insofar as queer history from Oscar Wilde to the Gay Liberation Movement to now. I looked into my own life and saw that I was in this long-term relationship, and that didn’t work out. At the same time, my grandma died in 2016, and my grandpa—this super-storytelling archetype of a grandpa—died four years later.”

“I bring these things up,” he explains, “because they make up a triple Venn diagram. In the middle is love, but love can heal and love can kill. That was the thesis statement of these songs. When people find them, I hope they find truth in them, because my truth is in them. I think the more specific one gets in art, the more vulnerable one gets in life.”