Destiny Rogers is a 19-year-old singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. She writes songs and sings about self-acceptance and about asserting her own identity. Hailing from Lodi, California, her music is both carefree and gritty, kind of like Rogers herself, who is sunny, yet grounded, with a natural presence that becomes apparent within minutes of meeting her. You can hear her confidence in the languid R&B and hip-hop-inflected pop songs on her upcoming EP, which she co-wrote with members of Grammy-winning team The Stereotypes (Bruno Mars, Bebe Rexha), who also produced.
Rogers possesses the kind of self-assuredness that comes from having an early sense of what she wanted to do with her life. Her first love was skateboarding, which she became obsessed with at age six watching kids ride past her house to a skate park nearby. "I wanted to go pro and compete in the X Games," she says. Music came later when Rogers — who grew up in a home where her Mexican mom listened to Mariachi music and her dad listened to AC/DC and Lynyrd Skynyrd — received a guitar at age nine from her dad. "My dad was a youth pastor who played piano and sang at our church, my mom sang in the choir, and I was the kid running around and banging on all the instruments on stage," says Rogers, who eventually taught herself to play guitar, piano, bass, and drums. At 10, she discovered Justin Bieber's cover videos on YouTube and tried to copy everything he did on his guitar. "He looked so young," she recalls. "I watched videos of him as a kid playing drums and I was like, 'That's me. I can do that.'"
She soon realized she could also sing and by the time she was 12, people in the industry had noticed too. But early efforts to launch a career with outside help did not pan out and Rogers knew she wanted to do things on her own terms. At 16, she began writing her own songs and making the drive from Lodi down to Los Angeles every weekend with her parents to busk at Santa Monica's 3rd Street Promenade. "People would throw business cards in my guitar case but I didn't want to talk to anyone," she says. "I just wanted to focus on myself." Rogers would typically earn $350 in a weekend, which she used to invest in musical equipment — a laptop with Pro Tools editing software, a proper microphone, and a MIDI keyboard.
At 17, she released her first song on iTunes and began posting covers on YouTube. One was seen by a family friend from her church, who had moved to Los Angeles to be an intern with The Stereotypes. He showed them Rogers' cover of Khalid's "Location" and they wanted to meet her. Though Rogers was wary at first ("I wanted all the control because I already knew what I wanted," she says), she saw it as a chance to write songs for others, the way two of her favorite artists, Tori Kelly and Ed Sheeran, did. "Also, the Stereotypes did one of my favorite records, Bruno Mars' 'That's What I Like,' so I knew they were legit," she says with a laugh.
Rogers hit it off with the team and began to work on songs with them in the fall of 2016, signing a production deal in early 2017. "It's cool because I am so involved," she says. "It's not just, 'Here Destiny, we think you should do a song like this,' and then they throw it on me. They let me have my input. They're all so creative and they listen. They ask me what my life is like, what makes me so passionate about music, and how I've used it to overcome obstacles. They have only helped me get better as a writer. I've learned a lot."
Rogers' forthcoming music captures her spirited, yet chill personality. "I don't want my fans to look at me as this famous celebrity," she says. "I want to be like, 'Bro, put your phone down. Let's just kick it. What do you do?' I want to connect with them like that."