Jamar Rogers, former “American Idol” contestant and a finalist on “The Voice,” performed in the D.P. Culp University Center Auditorium on Wednesday for National HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
Sponsors of the event included ETSU’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, Buctainment, Tennessee Department of Health and the Southeast Tennessee Development District.
The concert featured Rogers performing a variety of songs and sharing personal stories that have helped him grow as a person and singer.
“The world is crazy, there’s a lot going on,” Rogers said. “The world has always been crazy, that’s nothing new. The problem is life happens, things happen, disappointments happen, people that we love the most hurt us and so we begin to extinguish our own light.”
Rogers began singing at the age of 6 and has since strengthened his talent by performing on “American Idol” and “The Voice” on Cee Lo Green’s team.
It is his personal journey that has led Rogers to become a successful motivational speaker and an advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness, in which he has inspired millions of audiences around the world.
“I grew up with so many racial identity issues because my mom is black and my father isn’t,” Rogers said. “And since I hadn’t met him I didn’t know what I was, what was going on.”
Rogers said one of the biggest lessons he has learned was forgiveness.
“We as human beings were born to love and to be loved, so when we don’t receive that love we are going to replace it with anything else,” Rogers said. “Sometimes those things are healthy and sometimes those things aren’t healthy.”
Rogers became addicted to drugs and ran away at 17.
“Whatever it is you’ve gone through, because we all have a story to tell, we all have things that have happened to us, we all have carried scars,” Rogers said. “Everything you’ve been through was for a reason, as heinous as it might’ve been, as terrible as it might’ve been, the reason that you went through it was so that you could liberate others.”
One of Roger’s greatest disappointments ended up being one of his greatest successes, when he was eliminated from “American Idol” in Season 9.
Rogers auditioned for “American Idol” with one of his best friends at the time, Danny Gokey.
“I didn’t realize that on reality television they really want a story, and though I had a heck of a story, I wasn’t free enough to share it,” he said.
With the heartbreak of elimination, he said it was a very humbling experience.
“Honestly, if I hadn’t gone through that process I wouldn’t have been ready for ‘The Voice,’” Rogers said.
Since performing on “The Voice,” Rogers has appeared on “The Today Show,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” CNN, “E! News,” “MTV News” and more.
Rogers has also been signed to Tommy Boy Records and will be moving to London for six months working on his album.
“From someone that came from literally being homeless, wondering where I’m going to get my next meal from, it doesn’t make sense,” he said.
Rogers said it just shows whatever you set your mind to, you have the ability to achieve it.