First known for her 2016 viral hit “Alaska,” singer/songwriter Maggie Rogers combines folk, dance, and R&B into a powerfully emotional yet crowd-pleasing sound. Growing up in rural Maryland, Rogers began playing harp at age seven and loved the music of Gustav Holst and Vivaldi. Meanwhile, her mom played her neo-soul divas like Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill; by the time she was in middle school, she’d added piano, guitar, and songwriting to her repertoire. While studying at St. Andrews School in Delaware, she fell in love with the banjo and folk music, and attended a Berklee School of Music program during the summer after her junior year. Rogers won the program’s songwriting contest, which spurred her to focus on writing as high school came to a close. During her senior year, she turned a broom closet into a makeshift studio and recorded what became her first album, 2012’s The Echo; Rogers included her demos as part of her application to New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. She released another folky album, 2014’s Blood Ballet, during her sophomore year at the school.
Her sound evolved, thanks in part to her discovery of electronic music while studying abroad in France. Rogers united the different strands of her music to huge success in 2016 with “Alaska,” a song she wrote in 15 minutes about a hiking trip for a master class with Pharrell Williams. A video of a visibly moved Williams listening to the song went viral that June, resulting in millions of views as well as hundreds of thousands of plays of The Echo and Blood Ballet. Rogers released the finished version of “Alaska” later that month, and its accompanying EP Now That the Light Is Fading, appeared in February 2017. Two more singles, “On and Off” and “Split Stones,” also appeared that year, followed by Rogers announcing via Instagram that she would be taking a short hiatus. She returned in 2018 with the single “Fallingwater,” which she wrote and produced with former Vampire Weekend producer and multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmangli. A string of further singles followed, including “Alaska,” “On and Off,” and “Light On,” all of which preceded her debut full-length, Heard It in a Past Life, this time with studio assistance from Kid Harpoon and Greg Kurstin.