Carmen Rodgers
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Carmen Rodgers on her new EP Hello Human and more

Reviews & DunnWhat can you tell us about your new project Hello Human Volume 1?

Carmen Rodgers – I consider Hello Human a walk through many parts of the human experience. The love, the regret, the sensuality, the good decisions, the bad decisions, the search for joy and healing. Although it’s a 6-song EP, it’s meaty. There are some moments that could be considered autobiographical, but in many ways these are the stories of us all. As humans, most of us fundamentally desire the same things, have similar challenges and goals. This “Hello Human, Vol. 1” is both a connection and reconnection to myself and others.

Reviews & DunnGrowing up in Dallas who were some of your early influences? 

Carmen Rodgers – I spent my youngest years in Mississippi (where I was born) and later moved to Dallas until college. I know both those living experiences influenced me. From the blues and gospel of Jackson to the West coast music that was part of Texas culture. It was definitely like a musical gumbo. Regardless, songwriters influenced me most. Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Roberta Flack. But also melodic singers like Minnie Riperton, Natalie Cole, The Carpenters, James Taylor, and Whitney Houston. By the time I hit my teens though, it was Brandy and Faith Evans all day. I just love music. If it moves me with good melodies and lyrics, no matter the genre, I am a fan.

Reviews & Dunn Was there a particular performance that you saw and you realized this is what I want to do? 

Carmen Rodgers – Definitely. Diana Ross in Central Park. I remember watching as a little girl thinking she was magical. But when it started to rain, and she continued not only performing but she literally became a giant on stage. The rain became her co-star if you will. It was like she was wielding magic. The audience lost it, and so did I. In that moment, she moved from a Performer to a Superhero. That was a defining moment for me. I remember grabbing my hairbrush and practicing in the mirror after that. Mostly singing all things Michael Jackson and eventually Whitney Houston. I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to have and give that feeling over and over again.

Reviews & DunnHow did your song ”Ain’t No Time” end up on Hidden Beach Recordings Presents Hidden Hits, Vol. 1 in 2003?

Carmen Rodgers – My manager and I were talking to Hidden Beach at the time for a possible deal. Although it didn’t work out, we had a great relationship and we were invited to be part of this collective of “next up in Soul” so-to-speak. It was such a cool experience as a young singer getting my industry feet wet.

Reviews & DunnIn 2004 you released your debut Free. You covered Captain& Tennille’s “The Way I Want to Touch You”. What was the inspiration behind that one?

Carmen Rodgers – I was driving down Sylvan Road in Dallas one afternoon and listening to classic rock. I did (and still do) this often because some of those songs have the most amazing melodies and changes, and so much soul. When the song came on, I’d never heard it. I was immediately obsessed. I literally pulled over to finish listening and wait for the DJ to say who the artist and song were. I knew I had to remake it. When I found out it was Captain & Tennille, I called my producer at the time Ernie G and said “I want one of these.” Lol. He dug up the song and loved it as much as I did, then he created magic, especially that ending which differs a bit from the original. I feel like that song actually sought me out. Love it to this day!

Reviews & DunnPrior to working with them, were you a fan of The Foreign Exchanges debut Connected

Carmen Rodgers -I was! I was already a fan of Little Brother, but Connected, the debut album of The Foreign Exchange dropped the same year, just a few months after my debut album “Free.” I believe we have been “tethered” in a sense from that year. We were all fans of each other’s music ever sense.

Reviews & DunnHow much time was spent writing your sophomore release The Bitter Suite? 

Carmen Rodgers – Hard to say. Time is an only a construct when it comes to writing music, lol. I guess you could say it took me several months to write and record or it took me a lifetime of experiences to get to that moment.

Reviews & DunnIn 2015 you released Stargazer. What was the inspiration behind the album title?

Carmen Rodgers – Funny thing is that the original title was “Reluctant Star.” I’ve always had a strange relationship with celebrity and wasn’t sure I ever wanted to tread the waters of stardom. I love creating, I love my life, I love my anonymity, but to get to the next level, it requires being on more peoples’ radars. And that could mean more celebrity, which honestly frightens me on multiple levels. A friend helped me work out a more positive and eloquent way of this notion. Whether it’s me gazing at the idea or possibility of the star in me or others seeing the star I’ve been hiding. Not to mention, my favorite flower is the stargazer lily. It was a lovely place to land.

Reviews & DunnPre COVID you maintained a lengthy and successful touring gig with musician Zo! When did you two decide to link up for ongoing touring? 

Carmen Rodgers – As you know, Zo! Is a touring member and the Musical Director of The Foreign Exchange. My time with Zo! Started first as a musical friendship years before, but in 2013 I was asked to do some writing and recording for Zo! And The Foreign Exchange, started touring with Zo! shortly after, and then joined The Foreign Exchange after that. The year 2013 was monumental for my career, but obviously busy as well.

Reviews & DunnYou have great vocal chemistry with Anthony David. Have you two ever discussed doing a duet album? 

Carmen Rodgers – You know, we haven’t. Of course, we’ve discussed recording more music but never a full album. I love Anthony’s voice and gift and definitely miss making music with him. Anything is possible, but I think our friend Algebra Blessett would probably get first dibs.

Reviews & DunnShonda Rhimes and Issa Rae both reach out for permission to use “Sea of Lovelessness” on their TV series. Who are you saying yes to first without seeing the script? 

Carmen Rodgers – Why do I have to choose? Hah! I adore them both for their brilliance and contribution to TV and media. Their audiences are a bit different, with Shonda’s skewing a bit older with the soap opera feels and Issa definitely speaking the language of Millennials and Gen Z’ers. But I can play in the sand with both I hope. I want my songs wherever Shonda AND Issa reside. There’s enough of me to go around. The beauty of music is that it can live in multiple places at the same time. 

Reviews & DunnIs there anything you would like to add and where can fans find you on social media?

Carmen Rodgers – Please connect with me on both Instagram and Twitter: @carmenrodgers. Also, Facebook: @carmenrodgersfans or visit my website at Tell me your favorite songs, stories, share pics and memories and tag me. I try my best to stay connected to the people that got me here.

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