Stories

Carlos Rodgarman: Devoted to Music

September 7, 2017

By Geneva Gámez

Few people know for certain what they want to be when they grow up, but Carlos Rodriguez Garcia, better known as Carlos Rodgarman, always knew he wanted to be devoted to music, because music runs through his veins.

His grandparents from his mother’s side were both opera singers and his father’s parents were musicians, so it’s no surprise that his future would revolve around music too.

Rodgarman studied at the Classic Conservatory in Galicia, where he was being taught piano and classical music. It was then, still in his teenage years, when he deemed the approach “too square” for what he envisioned.

He had a desire for music at a different level, an experimental and more creative approach.

His older brother began to take Jazz lessons from a personal tutor at the time, but unlike Rodgarman, his brother had an ear for classical music and wasn’t interested in expanding much outside of that.

Rodgarman remembers sitting on the side, listening to the tutor teach his brother, taking it all into practice on his own afterward. This was perhaps his moment of enlightenment. He discovered a profound interest in Jazz.

That moment awaked the improvisation and spontaneity that he was looking for and he began to arrange music with that style in his mind, he said.

His hometown suddenly became too small for his aspirations, so he left Vigo, Galicia to further his knowledge in arranging and orchestra in Madrid.

In 2002, Rodgarman arrived in Los Angeles, where he would spend three rough years playing in small restaurants and slowly beginning to network and becoming exposed to professional musicians.

Doors began to open for Rodgarman and he began to arrange music for commercials and movie soundtracks. Rodgarman worked on “Dinner for Schmucks,” which represented a big leap for a foreigner trying to make it in Hollywood.

Soon after, Spanish artist Antonio Carmona was going on tour alongside renowned Colombian singer-songwriter Juanes through South America, Mexico and the United States. Rodgarman jumped on the tour through a colleague and became a visible asset onstage.

In 2008, Juan Gabriel’s musical director hired Rodgarman as the pianist for their tour. Without a clear notion of just how big of an artist he’d be performing with, Rodgarman had no idea how much everything would change for him after that.

It was during this time in which the surname “Rodgarman” would be conceived by Juan Gabriel.

“In Cancún, one day he approaches me and says, ‘I looked you up on YouTube to see what else you do but I can’t find you,’ so I said, of course you can’t, I’m Carlos Rodríguez García, there must be thousands with the same name on the internet.”

Later that evening, Juan Gabriel walked in and handed him over a small piece of white paper, which read “Carlos Rodgarman,” a combination of his two last names Rodríguez and García with an added “man” at the end. Using this name would give him more presence in the music world and keep him from being confused.

Their relationship only blossomed after that and when Juan Gabriel’s musical director left, Rodgarman stepped in.

Rodgarman remembers Juan Gabriel teasing him by saying, “you may have studied all the music you want in Spain, but you’ll truly learn about music with me.”

After 28 sold out shows at Mexico City’s Auditorio Nacional, he learned that the gift of a performance from an artist to an audience is capable of filling over 15,000 seats night after night.

When Juan Gabriel reached out to him at the beginning of his last tour to ask him to be his musical director once more, Rodgarman declined because he had started to work on his own album. Without further ado, Juan Gabriel wished him the best of luck.

Rodgarman is now well into continuing to make his own music and has created The RodgarBand, a collective of musicians featuring diverse musical talents.

“Instead of being Carlos Rodgarman, the pianist, like any other pianist, I wanted to create a different platform to show what I’ve lived through in Los Angeles,” Rodgarman said. “Most people only go see famous musicians, so I thought of this platform where it’s not all about me, it’s an opportunity for everyone to shine.”

As a proud immigrant, one who moved into his newly acquired home, Rodgarman claims that his collective “celebrates the World and the American dream through music.”

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