Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Michael ‘Zeek’ Rogers: From trials to triumph


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The road to the top can be tough. And the head of Penthouse 2.0 Events, Michael “Zeek” Rogers knows this all too well.

However, the entertainer and radio announcer has been blessed to find a way to rise above losing those closest to him and even a near-death experience.

In his own words, he has lived a very “interesting life”.

He has had triumphs and tribulations. His many triumphs have included winning the South Junior Calypso Monarch and becoming the Carnegie Free Library Calypso Champion three times in a row in Trinidad, forming his own company and scoring jobs with reputable companies,  but on several occasions he has heard news that no one ever really wants to hear.

By the time he was three the Trinbagonian had lost his father Jeville Rogers. While pursuing his Bachelor of Science in management at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus, he formed Penthouse, a name he coined based on his off-campus apartment of the same name.

The apartment was the place to be, and soon after the name became synonymous with many fetes on campus and off. 

During his UWI days, with the help of Anderson Mr Blood Armstrong, his musical career was ascending with Breakway, which got him as far as Calgary Carnival and even to the semi-finals of the International Soca Monarch. He is also the singer of Bubble It.

However, as his career was rising, his mother Hazel Rogers-Dick was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  She died in 2007.

“When she passed it took the wind out of me, so I took a break from singing for over a year,” Zeek said.

He graduated in 2008 with honours, and began working at Starcom Network in 2009 as a marketing officer. Unfortunately, his Barbadian grandmother Elsa Fenton passed the following year. And two years after that his stepfather Courtney Dick also passed.

“Those three persons were quite significant in my life, especially when it comes to music – they were like my biggest fans.

“So when everyone passed it sort of derailed me. I lost my motivation, so while I do have a few records out since then . . .  I was deflated . . . . I decided to follow my path in music by being a deejay as opposed to singing,” the Scorching Vybz Radio Show host said.

After leaving Starcom in 2015, he landed a job with Caribbean Label Craft as a business development executive.

However, one Sunday would change his life forever. January 10, 2016, is a day he will never forget because that was the day that had a run-in with death.

After dropping home a few friends, he said he fell asleep and his car collided with a bus.

He sustained three neck fractures and a twisted spine. The doctor’s predictions based on the MRIs were gloomy, to say the least.

But Zeek was able to walk out of the hospital a few weeks after the incident. 

He had been told that it would take almost a year to regain the use of his arm, but within a few months of physiotherapy, things were starting to look up.

 “I didn’t have an epiphany after the accident,” he said.  “But what it did do was to reassure my faith and to confirm to me that there is more for me to do.

“You have to have faith in the things that can’t be seen because from the viewing of the car to my physical condition . . .  everything you could have seen with your eyes did not make any sense. How is this young man still alive, or how is he not paralysed,? he said.

He considers himself to be very blessed and a walking miracle because, according to the scans, he’s two years advanced.

Because of the physical pain, he is reminded every day of the incident, but that does not stop his hustle.

“You could focus on the pain you’re in or focus on the fact that you survived something that maybe one per cent would have survived something like that.

“I believe there is a higher purpose so I’m just grateful to continue the journey.”

Zeek has also found his spiritual side.

“Coming out of this accident I’ve always been quite an independent person and I’ve also been a very spiritual person. No, you won’t see me in church every Sunday but I get on my knees to pray every night and every morning,” Zeek said.

“Anyone who has gone to university overseas would know there’s no mummy or daddy waking you up. You have to get up and do it for yourself, so through the university experience I would’ve already started to grow, and losing the persons closest to you one by one I was forced to have a certain level of maturity.

When he is not at his day job, he’s on the radio, playing for events or some of the hottest fetes around. And if he is not deejaying he can be found managing the stages – in the past he has done some, including Dis Is Rick and Reggae Beach Party. 

He said he gets a joy out of ensuring all the moving parts of a live show run as smoothly as they can.

“A lot of people get into it for the wrong reasons; they want to be popular or they want to be seen. If you want your talent to be seen, take time to learn the industry, especially when it comes to pricing.

“And what I’ve found now is that it’s quite difficult for artistes and deejays because of price wars and not understanding the value of the profession you are in and I think they need to view what they’re doing as a profession . . . . Be willing to get a thousand ‘nos’ but look out for the ‘yes’,” he said. (TG)


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