As one of The Voice
's Top 8, Jamar Rogers floored audiences with his musical talent. He tugged at our heartstrings with his history of overcoming an HIV-positive diagnosis. But to know Jamar is to know that he's more than just a song or a story - he's a truly great individual we could all learn something from.
Representing Team Cee Lo, Jamar energized The Voice
with huge performances of rock songs like The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" and Lenny Kravitz's "Are You Gonna Go My Way" that left fans wanting more. But it was his later outings that began to show the full picture of him as a musical artist: his impassioned delivery of the Bon Jovi hit "It's My Life," charged with emotion the original didn't have, and an electronica reimagining of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes' classic "If You Don't Know Me By Now." They proved that Jamar didn't just have power, but also so much soul and even a little vulnerability he wasn't afraid to show.
And while his story is nothing short of remarkable - the aforementioned HIV-positive status, seven years clean of drug addiction, and a previous stint on American Idol
included - he is likewise far more than just a compelling history. To truly appreciate Jamar, you have to get to know him, and see how he's using those experiences for not just his own good, but the good of others around him. He's this season's Beverly McClellan: the one person on the show that everyone really loves, and who looks out for everyone.
(Perhaps that's part of why Beverly was his favorite artist from season one - and why he's one of her favorites from season two, as she came to cheer him on during the semifinals.)
The show wouldn't have been the same without Jamar, so it's somewhat shocking when he tells me, "I never thought I would make it on a team, to be honest. There were so many really good people.
"It superceded what I thought it would be. I thought I'd tell a good story and shake Cee Lo [Green]'s hand. Never did I think I'd forge the relationships that I did," he explained of his experience on the show. "When I auditioned for The Voice
, it was only because 50 people came out of the woodwork. I thought, was God trying to tell me something?"
In what was arguably the toughest decision of the semifinals, Jamar went up against Florida rocker Juliet Simms for Team Cee Lo's spot in the Top 4 and came out the loser, but he left with a smile on his face and no regrets. "I kind of had a feeling I was going home. I had a feeling all day that I couldn't shake and usually my gut is never wrong," he explained. "I was really stunned with Cee Lo's 40/60 [points split]. Cee Lo had done the 50/50 thing last season so I kind of expected that from him.
"But it's all good things," he's quick to reassure me, as he's a firm believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason. "Cee Lo and I had an extremely long talk after the show Tuesday night and he's assured me this is not the end. I want to write a really rad record. I'm preparing to move to L.A. and just trying to figure out what the next best move is. I've come too far to give up now."
The opportunities have alreafy begun to roll in for him. On the day that we speak, he's preparing to watch himself on The Ellen DeGeneres Show
, having taped an interview there the day before. "I really have always wanted to do The Ellen Show
," he tells me. "I feel so honored to be the only contestant from The Voice
to be invited to be on that show. Then there's the World International Aids Conference
this summer, where I get to be a keynote speaker."
And of course, he's still working on his music; he'll be at Tuesday's Voice
finale, along with several other Season 2 artists, including Katrina Parker, Lindsey Pavao and Kim Yarbrough.
What was his favorite moment from the season? "I have to say singing 'It's My Life.' I did not want to sing that song, and my mind was changed - and I love it when my mind is changed," he says. "I still enjoy singing that song. It brings a lot of joy.
"My second favorite moment was the relationship that I built with Cee Lo. I have his number in my cell phone," he continues with a laugh, because as was mentioned many times on the show, his coach is also one of his heroes.
Jamar explains, "Cee Lo inspired me a long time ago to be who I am. He was a black guy not stuck doing R&B and hip-hop. Prince as well, another man of color that just kind of defied all the rules. I feel like he gave me strength and courage. And Ellen [DeGeneres]. She's the exception to the rule. Her career really took off after she became real with everybody. There's something so unapologetically real about [all of] them, and I love that about them."
Those are words one could say about Jamar himself. His coach and many of his fellow artists have spoken highly of him both as a performer and as an individual, praise that is very much deserved. Although I've made so many great friends over the course of the season, ones I'll have long after Tuesday's finale, no one inspired me like Jamar did and continues to do.
It wasn't just the strength I took from his example, but how he always had words of encouragement (and a hug!) whenever he saw me. He convinced me that my own story was worth telling. And even when everything was on the line for him, he always had a hello and a smile for me. If The Voice
had a morale officer, it was undoubtedly Jamar Rogers.
For his teammate Juliet, he has just a few words of advice: "Keep doing exactly what you're doing. Don't change a thing. It makes me actually feel pretty good that I lost to who could potentially be the winner."
"I'm really grateful that I got to perform on that stage," he says. "I
want to thank everyone so much. I want to thank the American people for
giving me hope. For letting me know that people are ready right now for a
story like this, for eliminating prejudice and stigma. I want to thank
them for letting me get as far as I did. For once, I was really at a
true loss for words."
Thankfully for us, he has plenty more left to say. You can keep up on his future by following him on Twitter at @JSquidward
and visiting the website JamarsFam.com
, which has updates and a message board. He has a bright future ahead of him, and he deserves every moment of it. Make no mistake about it, Jamar Rogers is more than another reality-show artist: he's one of life's truly good people.The Voice
's final performance show airs this Monday at 8 PM ET/PT and
the winner of season two will be crowned on Tuesday at 9 PM ET/PT on
NBC.For more on The Voice, you can follow my Voice-exclusive Twitter at @bigredchairs.