It’s stupefying to believe that The Voice has been on for 10 years. NBC debuted its singing competition in spring 2011, and in May 2021 it crowned the show’s 20th winner. The series has changed tremendously over that decade—including winning multiple Emmy Awards, going through plenty of superstar coaches, and introducing America to hundreds of artists.
But back then, when Javier Colon was named the very first Voice champion and no one had ever seen those big red chairs before, the series was groundbreaking; it shook up the reality TV format. It also had a community of wonderful people much greater than the competition. To mark the 10th anniversary, I’m taking a look back at The Voice with some of my favorite artists from across the seasons, and also sharing some of my favorite memories from the five years I spent covering the show.
Check out this interview with The Voice season 2 semifinalist Jamar Rogers. You can also click below to view any of the previous retrospectives:
Jamar Rogers (season 2, 2012)
The Voice’s original selling point was enabling artists’ individuality, and there’s no one who embodies that more than Jamar Rogers. He was a fan favorite when he represented Team Cee Lo during The Voice season 2, getting all the way to the semifinals before being eliminated. Jamar is a crazy talented artist, but his biggest impact on the show was the one he left behind the scenes.
You won’t find anyone more accepting, more gracious, more encouraging or more open than Jamar, for whom music is just one part of his journey. He brought so much joy to the second season, and he set an example for everyone around him as far as how to treat other people, and how to embrace yourself a little bit more. But while he was a shining light for a lot of us, it was a challenging time for him. Here’s what he had to tell me about the role The Voice played in his life almost a decade ago.
Brittany Frederick: Your time on The Voice was nine years ago. What’s happened for you in the last decade?
Jamar Rogers: That was a really long time ago. It feels like a whole other lifetime. Since then, I was signed to a label. I released an album that flopped. I’ve done some TV work. I also was in the hospital for 40 days. It has been an exciting nine years. It has not been a boring nine years. (laughs) But I feel like I’m coming out of the fog, because I actually gave up on music for a few years. After the album didn’t do well, I was like, “Well, what am I even doing this for? I don’t think people are still really into me,” and I got into my head really bad. And so for like two years, I didn’t do anything. I didn’t make any music. I just was existing.
When I met [his boyfriend] James, it was my first concert I had done in years, and from then on, I’ve been just writing again. Now I have a song coming out, and it’s so amazing. It’s such a cool vibe. I can’t wait. The music video is amazing. We’re looking at a summer release. It’s going to be independent, but I believe in myself more than I have ever believed in myself, which means that I think it’s going to be a massive success for me, because I finally believe in me.
BF: That’s something many people don’t talk about. The assumption is that being on The Voice is a path to success; what was it like for you to experience the opposite, and come through on the other side?
JR: My album didn’t flop because people didn’t like me. My album flopped because I didn’t believe in me, and the world will constantly reflect back at you what you believe about yourself. If I continue to believe I’m a loser, I’m a failure, well, guess what? My art is going to reflect that. But if I start to actually hit the ground running and say, “You know what? I have this song, I have this song that you’re going to love. It’s very relatable. I think that you’re going to feel something…” I have to be my own evangelist. I have to be my own cheerleader. I can’t expect people to do it for me.
BF: What do you remember most from your time on The Voice?
JR: What I remember most is that I did not have fun. I wish I could go back in time and have fun. What people don’t know is I was under so much stress, and that’s because at the time, I didn’t know how to manage my stress. I wasn’t emotionally or mentally prepared for the amount of attention that I was getting. I didn’t love myself. I was happy to be telling a redemptive story, but I still was very depressed. I started getting alopecia, my hair started falling out in patches; it’s just now growing back. So when I look back, I remember how stressed I was. It wasn’t a fun time for me.
That’s why I’m ready to hit the ground running, because I feel like I’m having such a good time in life now. I’m just having fun being alive, and I want to spread that. The best thing I could have ever done was back in December, I joined TikTok. I didn’t think that I would ever join TikTok; I thought I was too old. I thought that it just was not for me. But in five short months, I have almost 15,000 followers, and it’s been a place where I can be completely authentically me. The coolest thing about being on the show is people have discovered me on TikTok saying, “Oh my God, you were my favorite contestant on The Voice. I was wondering what you’ve been up to. I’m so glad to have found you.”
BF: What do you remember about the people from your season? Because season 2 seemed to be one of the most close-knit seasons, but you were also going through that intense amount of stress.
JR: I remember James Massone. I remember loving WADE. I remember loving these people, but after the show, I was so depressed. I was depressed for years. I took my loss very personally. Not only did I feel rejected by America, but rejected by my idol, Cee Lo. I just felt rejected all over the place. So I don’t have the fondest of memories.
However, I’m excited moving forward because I want to make up for that time that I didn’t have fun. That’s why I moved back out to LA, because I’m not done yet. I still have some shit to talk about and shit to sing about, so I’m not done.
BF: So given that, and the fact that it’s been nearly ten years, is it safe to say that your sound and who you are as an artist has changed significantly from what we heard on The Voice? How do you describe it now?
JR: It’s nowhere near the same. I’ve just evolved. I think that as an artist, you’re going to constantly evolve. I think that if I was singing the same stuff from nine years ago, I would feel stagnant and stuck. I’ve found other ways to express myself…Way more soulful. Instead of rock, it’s definitely more R&B. I still have guitars in there, because I love guitar; it’s my favorite instrument of all time.
And I would say more introspective and a lot more mellow. I’m not shrieking and hollering so much; I save that for very special occasions. (laughs) I’ve discovered the lower register of my voice. I like the rich quality of the deeper register of my voice, and playing with that. I would say [my sound is] folk meets soul music. That’s what I’m doing.
The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. The season 20 finale airs this Tuesday, May 25, and the series will return for season 21 in spring 2022.
Article content is (c)2020-2021 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr, on Instagram at @BFTVGram.