He may not be “Jacob from the Bible,” but Jake Wesley Rogers is forging his own path and sharing his story with thousands of fans along the way.
Rogers, who made a name for himself at Belmont with his Urban Pop and Best of the Best Showcase performances, will release his most personal project yet on Friday, an EP called “Spiritual,” which features the singles “Jacob from the Bible” and “Little Queen.”
“I spent the past two years just kind of really thinking about the art I wanted to make, and this is what I landed on. And I wasn’t really worried or preoccupied with the effect it might have immediately,” he says. “I know that if I’m going to be authentic in my art, I’ll see the benefits of that in time.”
The 2018 graduate is no stranger to the stage or the songwriting process. He started performing in theater in fifth grade, and began writing his own music shortly after.
Like many parts of his career, including organizing his team and writing many of his songs, Rogers said the process of getting into performance was “pretty organic.” But the choice to explore new depths of vulnerability in this new EP holds more intentionality.
“It’s very confessional,” Rogers said. “It was a time in my life where I had a lot to say about my past and reckoning with how I made it here. I feel like the past couple of years have been weird for a lot of people, so it was my way of dealing with it and writing about it and thinking about it.”
When writing and recording “Spiritual,” Rogers drew inspiration from a wide array of sources. He credits everything from tarot cards — “I’m definitely kind of into some witchy stuff,” he admits — to Renaissance art to his midwestern Christian upbringing.
Those influences all came together in the spectacularly theatrical “Jacob From the Bible” music video, which Rogers released on March 13.
“The visual stuff came first. Even before I had the songs, I knew I wanted to do a music video like this, and the colors would be red, and then the songs kind of came,” he said. “I feel very connected to the world and spiritual and I wanted that to translate in the video.”
The song, and the rest of the EP, are an honest reckoning with Rogers’ past and identity.
“I grew up going to church, grew up singing in church, and then I came to Belmont and kind of stepped away for a while,” he said. “And then in my stepping away I think I found a lot of my own version of spirituality, and what praying actually means to me and what talking to God actually means to me. And that felt way more special and personal than what I ever found in a church.”
Though tackling such personal topics has made this project “scarier” than others he’s released, Rogers has enjoyed seeing the impact his songs can make.
“There’s been a handful of people who’ve kind of reached out and shared their stories, similar stories to mine. And that’s really special and powerful to me. That makes it worth it.”
Another amazing part of the experience? Getting to play his songs in front of live audiences.
Rogers has played a handful of shows in New York, Los Angeles and Austin leading up to the EP’s release. On April 12, he’ll perform for an audience of friends, fans and former classmates at his first Nashville show in “a long time.”
“I stepped away from performing in Nashville,” he said, “because I wanted to make sure the next show would be the best one I’ve ever done. So the Mercy Lounge show on April 12, I’m focusing on making it a full experience and a concert rather than just kind of playing my songs. It’s amazing — I’ve found it to be a lot of work, but it will be worth it, I think.”
Audience members can expect “a lot more energy and theatrics” along with Rogers’ signature blend of piano-based songs and more driving ensemble pieces.
Much like his ability to draw inspiration from multiple sources, Rogers aims to blend the arts of music and performance with his love of fashion. His eclectic taste draws from 70s icons like Stevie Nicks, Gucci-inspired trends and, surprisingly enough, clowns.
“I don’t know why. I just dig the jumpsuits,” he said. “I’m working with a designer right now for my stage outfit for the next few months, so that’s been really fun.”
Though quality music is Rogers’ top priority, he realizes that “in 2019, it has to look good, too!”
But whether he’s designing the custom tarot cards he’s selling on his site — as seen in the “Jacob from the Bible” music video — or singing alone at his piano, Rogers’ inspiration in this season of his artistry all ties back to the spiritual.
“A lot of the things I’m writing about are kind of hard times, but now when I look back at them it feels so spiritual,” he says. “And even though those things were kind of devastating at the time, here I am. You can’t help but be like, ‘Something got me through that. Something amazing; something we can’t put our fingers on.’”
Photo by Jakob Wandel, courtesy of Fairwin Entertainment.