She wowed Pharrell in an N. Now the year-old singer and songwriter is making her first major artistic statement. Maggie Rogers wowed Pharrell in an N. Her first major label album is the work of an introvert struggling to recalibrate. By Alex Pappademas. Rogers grew up in rural Easton, Md.
As the Grammys approach, you are probably like me listening to as many of the nominees as you can so you can rightfully protest on Twitter if one of your favorites doesn't win big. While you're doing your heavy listening, you may have stumbled down the good ol' Maggie Rogers rabbit hole. Whether or not she wins the award, she's a voice to be heard, and I have a feeling her songs will be in our playlists for years to come. One day, uber-famous music producer Pharrell Williams stopped by one of her classes to listen to her and some other students' songs they had been working on and critique them. It's one thing to hear feedback from a professor, but Pharrell is on a whole other level?! And when a video of a music legend is put out onto the Internet of said legend in utter and deep shock about how good a song is, it obviously has to go viral. This is exactly what happened here when Pharrell heard Rogers' song "Alaska" for the first time. People went nuts, to say the least, because not only was Pharrell practically bowing down to Rogers, "Alaska" was a song like no other. In an interview with NPR Rogers spoke on the once-in-a-lifetime moment, "When all of this happened, I sort of became this cocktail party version of myself where I felt like I had to play the role of 'happy girl' because my story has this element of a Cinderella story to it: 'Girl gets plucked from obscurity, becomes star! In a creative drought, Rogers thought for a while that she wanted to be a music journalist.
In the nineteen-eighties, before YouTube and streaming services made nearly the entire history of popular music instantly available, intrepid artists knew that fishing deeper waters tended to yield a better catch. Why stick to what the present culture was offering? Early hip-hop crews ransacked used-record bins, taking samples from old LPs without regard to genre or origin. In the Internet age, this is how almost everybody listens to music, minus the dust: songs arrive free of circumstance. For artists working today, records from any time and place are easily juiced for inspiration. Maggie Rogers, a twenty-two-year-old singer and songwriter from Easton, Maryland, feels like the apotheosis of this sensibility.
Rogers grew up along the banks of the Miles River in Easton, Maryland. Her father is a now-retired Ford Motor Company dealer and her mother, a former nurse, is now an end-of-life doula. Her mother would play neo-soul artists such as Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill. By the time she was in middle school, Rogers had added piano and guitar to her repertoire and began songwriting in eighth grade. At school, she played harp in the orchestra, sang in the choir, joined a jazz band, learned banjo and became interested in folk music, and taught herself how to program. She also spent many summers during her formative years at a rural camp in Maine. The summer after her junior year, Rogers attended a Berklee College of Music program and won the program's songwriting contest, which spurred her to focus on writing.