jake wesley rogers
Hailed as the Gen Z Elton John, singer-songwriter Jake Wesley Rogers from Springfield, MO, has been turning heads for some time. The arts have always played a big part in Rogers’ life. Essentially, it’s all he knows. After learning to play the guitar at 6 years old, piano and voice lessons would soon follow.
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Photography: Anthony Giovanni
Fashion: Edwin J Ortega
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Makeup: Darian Darling
Hair: Sheridan Ward
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Words: Fabio Magnocavallo
Shot at Hype Studios
Hailed as the Gen Z Elton John, singer-songwriter Jake Wesley Rogers from Springfield, MO, has been turning heads for some time.
The arts have always played a big part in Rogers’ life. Essentially, it’s all he knows. After learning to play the guitar at 6 years old, piano and voice lessons would soon follow. By 5th grade, he found himself performing in theater productions due to his “obsession” with musical theater while enjoying the likes of megastars Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Rogers’ passion for writing his own songs wouldn’t come until shortly after once he discovered Amy Winehouse, Adele, and Florence + The Machine, who Rogers refers to as “artist-writers.”
However, a huge turning point for Rogers was when he met one of his idols, Lady Gaga, at age 12. “It was at a meet and greet on the Monster Ball Tour,” Rogers tells MOOD. “My mom was with me and told her that she’s really inspired my son to be an artist—and Gaga looked at me and said, ‘I knew he was an artist, I could smell it.’” While he is unsure whether the pop icon said that to “a bunch of kids” or not, Rogers decided to believe her at that moment and chase his dream. “She’s always inspired me like that – to be brave and weird and bold,” he continues.
Now many years have passed and it appears Mother Monster was right all along. At 18, Rogers moved from Missouri to Nashville to study songwriting at Belmont University and started to impress the big dogs early on. Within his first year, he entered a songwriting showcase that landed him a publishing deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing. In 2016, Rogers chose to kickstart his music career as an independent artist. His debut EP, Evergreen, dropped in 2017 while his sophomore, Spiritual, came out two years later. In between this period, Rogers would graduate from college in 2018.
His days of releasing independently would ultimately come to an end when the musician and renowned songwriter Justin Tranter, behind hits for Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, and Gwen Stefani, to name a few, took an interest in the emerging talent and signed Rogers to their imprint, Facet Records, via Warner Records. Admitting signing to a major label was never the main plan, Rogers is proud to now be signed by Tranter. “I only wanted to sign if it was the perfect fit and I believed in the team, and I’m so grateful I found that,” he says.
The first project to come out of the deal was his third EP, Pluto, in 2021, which was promoted with his TV debut appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden, where he performed his song Middle of Love. With no time to waste, Rogers has been utilizing this time as an artist on the rise as a way to keep his fanbase growing by continuously releasing new material. His most recent single, Lavender Forever, first came to life after reading an article that used a unique term.
“I had just downloaded Tiktok and the 3rd video I posted went viral where I told everyone that Abraham Lincoln was allegedly gay, and slept with his bodyguard,” Rogers explains. “In the New York Times article I got my information from, one of Lincoln’s biographers said he had a ‘streak of lavender,’ alluding to his queerness. That term really intrigued me and I set out to create an anthem of love – for everyone in general and LGBTQ+ folks in particular.”
Lavender Forever scored Rogers a performance on the final season of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, something which he considers an honor. “Performing on Ellen was very special for me because I grew up LOVING Ellen,” Rogers states. “She’s actually the first openly LGBTQ+ I remember seeing that people loved and accepted.”
Rogers first came out as gay in sixth grade and unapologetically lives his best, authentic life through his art. With a bold, flamboyant sense of style and heaps of talent behind the songs, many have naturally drawn comparisons to Elton John. “Of course, it’s an honor to be compared to an icon. He’s paved the way for so many of us,” Roger says. “I also understand that I am also a gay guy in glasses who plays piano and people like to connect things to something they understand. But I’m always flattered.” If he was to take inspiration from anyone, however, it would be Fleetwood Mac frontwoman, Stevie Nicks. “I love all things from the ‘70s!” he says. “Stevie Nicks is probably my favorite fashion icon as well as Florence Welch. I like to feel like a flowy witch with a touch of glam.”
It seems John himself isn’t mad at the comparisons either. Last year, Rogers was interviewed by the legend for the 300th episode of his Apple Music radio show, Rocket Hour. In addition to that, Rogers was also invited to the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s 30th Annual Academy Awards Viewing Party earlier this year, where he performed Rocket Man with Brandi Carlile. “It was so cool! God, I love Brandi,” Rogers shared, reminiscing over the huge opportunity. “Brandi and I had become connected on Instagram and I asked her if she wanted to sing something and she said yes! I’ll never forget it.”
As you would assume, meeting John has left a big impact on Rogers, in the best way possible. “Elton has reminded me about the power of having fun, especially after these last few years,” he says. “We really just want to forget for a little bit and music always makes us feel free and live in the world we dream of, not just the one we currently live in.”
So, what’s next for Rogers? Well, after putting out a number of EPs, he’s officially working on what every musician hopes to release: an album! “It sorta feels like I’ve been writing it my whole life, which is more or less intimidating,” Rogers says. “It’s deeper than I’ve ever gone before,” he reveals about the material. “I keep thinking, ‘I can’t show anyone this,’ which I think is a good sign that I’m onto something.” Rogers explains that 80 percent of his songwriting process “is living and being open to inspiration,” adding, “The rest is sitting at the piano and trying to get out of the way and let those experiences come through.” Even though he is fixated on a career in music right now, a “moment” on broadway “at some point” is something Rogers would love to see for himself in the near future.
Reflecting on his early stuff, Rogers looks at everything as an ongoing evolution, stating each song leads him to the next. “My favorite feeling when writing is the surprise. I feel I create my best when I’ve said or written something that I truly didn’t see coming. Those things always feel like the truest to me,” he says.
As for the industry’s obsession with streaming numbers and analytics, Rogers insists he doesn’t care to look at anything related to that. “I create because it is all I know how to do. I came here to love, play, and make things. I find freedom in these things,” he says. “Toni Morrison said ‘the function of freedom is to free others,’ so, within my freedom, if I can share
that with someone else, I’ve achieved it. It’s all about spreading the love and light, baby. That’s what I will always do.”
This fall, Rogers will no doubt expand his fan base this fall when supporting Panic! At The Disco on their nationwide North American Viva Las Vengeance tour.