Millions of people were captivated by the voice of Jamar Rogers on The Voice and it was unfortunate that he was eliminated in the semi-finals. What's even more inspiring about Rogers is his own personal story: Rogers is HIV positive and a recovering crystal meth addict.
The 30-year-old New Yorker talks more about his decision to reveal his status—as well as the stigma of being positive—with journalist Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn for the Black AIDS Institute.
Six years ago the recovering drug addict from the Bronx, N.Y., was near death in a hospital emergency room in Atlanta. "I had made the decision to stop using crystal meth about two to three months before I discovered I was HIV positive," he says. "I got really sick, and it felt like it came out of nowhere--but obviously it didn't just come out of nowhere."
Coming out as HIV positive to a national television audience wasn't in his plans when he decided to make a run on The Voice. "Initially, when I decided to audition, I just wanted to shake Cee Lo's hand," he says with a laugh. Then Rogers made it past the audition--and to his surprise survived each battle round, week after week. The higher his profile got on the show, the more [he] wrestled with the decision to come forward, determined to prove to everyone watching that you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it.
"I felt like I wanted to do my part to eradicate prejudice and stigma," Rogers says, "and finally I called the producers and said, 'Hey, there's something I'd like to talk about,' and they were completely receptive and treated me with so much respect."
"Viewers embraced him, too. "I've had people private-message me [on Facebook and Twitter] and tell me that they're talking about the disease with their families for the first time," he says, acknowledging a particular young lady who told him that she had been living with HIV for years and no one knew. "I can just imagine the heaviness, the burden," he sighs heavily. "I know what that feels like."
Jamar's story is super-inspirational. Read it HERE.
Rogers auditioned for American Idol in 2009 with his friend Danny Gokey. Rogers revealed his status to producers but they chose not to tell the audience. Rogers did not make the Top 12 but came close.
Jamar Rogers talked more about his journey two weeks ago on Ellen. "I got to actually give people hope no matter where they are in life," he told Ellen Degeneres. "There is no pit too deep that you can't climb out of if you're willing to dream again. I'm looking forward to activism and working in the community."
AFTER THE JUMP Rogers talks and performs on Ellen and shares his story on The VOICE ...