D. J. ROGERS / “Say You Love Me”

D. J. Rogers. You probably never heard of him. He had a moderate hit with today’s feature, “Say You Love Me.” Cut five secular albums (D.J. Rogers – 1973, It’s Good To Be Alive – 1976, Love, Music & Life – 1977, Love Brought Me Back – 1978 and Trust Me – 1979) and one gospel album (Hope Songs) before bailing out of the entertainment rat race. It's Good To Be Alive, a 2-CD, 30-track compilation composed of music from three of DJ's albums, is currently available as an import and is the best place to start your search for the music of D.J. Rogers. Other than album covers, I could only find one picture of D.J. on the internet—it was almost like he hadn’t existed. On a German site that focused on Soul music I found scans of the covers of all his albums and that was it. But worse than the lack of photos, all of his music is not yet available. How can this be? D.J.’s music is so distinctive, so soulful, so funky, so interesting. A lot of it makes you want to shout or dance; at the very least tap your toe and hum (or moan) along with D.J. How is it that this man never made it big? He’s in the generation that came after Ray Charles. The cat closest to him is Rance Allen. But D.J. was more outwardly religious in his approach to music making than Ray Charles, and yet, on the other hand, he was far more funky than Rance Allen. I believe there was a fierce battle going on inside Mr. Rogers and that accounted for the intensity of D.J.’s music. He often sang as though some gigantic hand had taken hold of him and physically shook the sounds out of him. The normal reference for the type of climatic moans and hollers D.J. did was carnal climax but D.J. achieved that same thorough going expression singing about a schoolmate (“Bula Jean”). And check how he covered Kenny Rogers’ (no relation) “She Believes In Me,” a song that seriously celebrates bonding. dj rogers 01.jpg Yes, D.J. had a gift for finding and expressing the essential humane elements that are often deeply embedded within the most mundane aspects of daily life. When you listen to “On The Road Again” you hear a true depiction of the hardships of life on the road and in the entertainment industry.

I started out just to sing my song Before I knew it, everything went wrong. No time, no time for love It looks like money is my only goal When I signed the paper I must have sold my soul
And then there is the couplet:
I get tired of every hotel lobby But I want my son to grow up and be somebody
What possesses a man to put a song like this on album of what is aimed at being popular music? Numerous artists have songs about the shady sides of the entertainment business but what D.J. is doing is critiquing his own actions and motivations. Like I said, D.J. is deep. He’s deep not just as a preacher but the man could flat out sing. I mean sing like a man possessed except he was always singing about seeking salvation and doing right, always carrying a message in his music and not just any message, a message of spiritual salvation and personal accountability. Of course, this was the seventies and he wasn’t the only one preaching through his music, but still, D. J. was different from just about all of his peers. What caught my ear was D.J.’s music mix. He had a strong funk bottom, grooves that wouldn’t quit supplied by an experienced band that was often augmented by soaring strings and one of the sweetest choirs this side of heaven. (And your ears don’t fail you if you hear Deniece Williams clearly identifiable soprano surging.) The mix is complex. For one thing whoever is doing rhythm guitar comes out of the church and is used to feeding chords to a vocalist. You know they call it rhythm guitar for a reason. I remember when I was playing music back in the mid-sixties there was this guy who played rhythm guitar. Wasn’t worth spit as a lead guitarist but man he could build a groove like he was an expert brick layer. I mean once we got going, my man had this way of playing that made you want to keep on playing and never want to stop. It’s the trance thing, finding the sweet spot and keeping it on the one. There’s nothing showy about it. Indeed, it’s hard to put your finger on any one aspect of it except to say it all just sounds right on, doesn’t matter what tempo, what key, ballad or blues, whisper or shout, when it’s in the pocket, well, there’s just nothing like it. Anyway establishing a groove was one of D.J.’s calling cards. Check “Pressing On” for a great example of D.J. funk. Another facet of D.J.’s music was the almost operatic way he employed voices and strings (arrangements by Coleridge Taylor Perkinson). Of course, you can immediately hear the church elements in the choir but there is something more there. Listen to those strings. Listen to those harmonies. D.J. was a master musician who was based in but not restricted to gospel and blues. Listen to how his songs are structured with different tempo and different rhythms. “Love Is On The Way” and “Love Brought Me Back” are great examples of innovative arranging. D.J. had some of the inclinations of a progressive jazz musician. Perhaps some of his music was more complex than the record companies were used to promoting. Marketing a cat like this must have been a nightmare; what bag do you put him in? There was no one label that could describe what he was doing. For instance he had a habit of using call and response except he would overdub his voice so he was doing both the call and the response. D.J. should have been a contender, instead by the eighties Rogers opted out. Today he is an ordained minister in his home town of Los Angeles and the son he sang about, D.J. Rogers Jr., is taking his own shot at making it as a singer. So why do I classify D.J.’s music as classic? Simple. Rogers’ music epitomizes seventies Soul music. So, no, D.J.’s no star of the era but he is a legend. You may not have heard him before but once you do hear him, you immediately recognize: he’s a memorable talent. As with most classic artists in their prime, you won’t forget DeWayne Julius Rogers. —Kalamu ya Salaam  

This entry was posted on Monday, July 28th, 2008 at 2:19 am and is filed under Classic. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “D. J. ROGERS / “Say You Love Me””

DeJa Says:
July 28th, 2008 at 3:35 pm

Wow, I do remember hearing this one on the radio. I’ve always loved harmony and background, so I distinctly recall the background chorus on this one. Thank you.

Keturah Says:
July 31st, 2008 at 11:04 am

I appreciate the introduction to a new (for me, anyway) old artist. So, yes..D.J. Rogers is hard to find on the web. From where did these tracks in the jukebox come? Are there "Kalamu-only" accessible…lol. Seriously, I need new music on my Ipod. How can I get my hands on Rogers?

         kalamu sez             

My bad. I forgot to put the link for It’s Good To Be Alive, a major compilation of D.J.’s music. I’ve added into the body of the article above and here it is again: It’s Good To Be Alive.


albgardis Says:
July 31st, 2008 at 7:05 pm

Hi, you are right – I had never heard from him before last week, when I found an album of his. It is the self-titled one, and I found conflicting info about the recording year (70 or 73).

You can download it for free under this link (no trick, nothing attached, or so. That is where I got it from also) :

Thank you for the mp3, I did not have that (since it was not on the one album I have now, all other song of him are new to me).

Berry Says:
August 3rd, 2008 at 1:44 pm

I am not familiar with this artist but he has a new fan. Wow, fantastic vocals.

Alicia Says:
October 24th, 2008 at 9:26 am

I have been looking all over for this song!

TD Says:
March 13th, 2010 at 12:39 am

This posting was a treat to read. I’ve been looking for more information about DJ Rogers since hearing his vocals added to Hezekiah Walker’s song, God Favored Me. He is absolutely classic. And it’s too bad he’s a voice that has not been heard by the masses. Thanks again for the much needed info!

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