As the 2020 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. The 25-year-old artist from Easton, Maryland, is nominated for Best New Artist at this years' Grammys alongside our other favorites like Lizzo, Billie Eilish, and Lil Nas X, to name a few.
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.
Rogers was discovered through a video with Pharrell Williams.
In 2016, Rogers was enrolled at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts as a student of the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. 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.
"I have zero, zero, zero notes for that," he says when the song stops playing. "I've never heard anyone like you before, and I've never heard anyone that sounds like that."
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!'"
She was going to be a music journalist if her solo career didn't work out.
In a creative drought, Rogers thought for a while that she wanted to be a music journalist. During school, she interned at Spin and ELLE and worked as an editorial assistant for writer Lizzy Goodman.
When she worked for Goodman, most of her time was spent transcribing hours on hours of interviews. The project was for Goodman's 2017 book, Meet Me in the Bathroom, about the early '00s New York music scene. So when it came time for Rogers to sign with a label after the sensation she became because of the whole Pharrell thing, Rogers came armed with knowledge from her gig with Goodman.
"I would show up with ammo," she told the New York Times. "Really minute stories from their lives, like where they were on 9/11, or that time they tried to sign the Killers in 2007. And during these interviews, inevitably, when I was the only woman in the room, and these men started talking over me, I would pull out these stories, and people would look at me like they'd seen a ghost."
She's worked with all your favorites.
Eventually, Rogers signed with a major-label deal with Capitol Records in 2016, and three years later would release her debut studio album Heard It in a Past Life where it would go at number two on the Billboard 200 chart. No big deal.
On the album, she worked with producers Greg Kurstin (Adele's "Hello") and Ricky Reed (Halsey's "Bad at Love.")
"You need music that is compelling and intellectual, but you also need music that just feels good, and you can laugh about and dance to, and I think I'm trying to marry the two in some way," she told The Guardian on finding her voice when it came to her music.
Since the album's release, she went out on a world tour, performed at Coachella, opened for Kacey Musgraves, made her late-night debut on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and has performed on Saturday Night Live. (And I thought I was busy.)
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