Though born in Tennessee, Rogers grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and the violin came naturally to her at an early age. "My dad is a self-taught musician…he had instruments around the house, and he actually enrolled me in the school orchestra program. And then, after I'd been playing a few months, he knew just enough to show me two or three fiddle tunes and started backing me up on guitar, and the next thing you knew I was in a family bluegrass band…I didn't play anything other than classical in school until I was about, oh, 25, until I moved to Nashville and started doing country gigs."
"As a (fiddle) player, I got turned on to Scotty Stoneman at a pretty young age, and he just still – I don't know if his playing comes out that much in my actual style, but he just really influenced me with his passion, and double-stopping (noting and playing two strings at once), and just the intensity of his playing just knocked me out."
She quickly found out that she had a knack for singing as well, and there were plenty of icons close at hand to study and draw inspiration from.
"Well, singing style, I would definitely have to say Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs, the Whites, you know, Tony Rice, those folks – I mean, I just listened to those records non-stop, Boone Creek stuff, the '75 J.D. Crowe album, Tony Rice ‘Manzanita', Skaggs and Rice…those were the records that I just wore out."
While Stapleton (and now Nichols) handles the band's lead vocals, it's Rogers who puts together the harmonies. "Doing the harmony stuff, singing the harmony stuff has just always been a great love of mine and something that just always came natural to me. I don't know why or where, but it's just something that I've enjoyed, but I just hear the parts…I'm not shy about pointing out, ‘hey, why don't you try this note, or why don't you try that note.'"
Rogers has indeed a lot on her musical plate, including teaching fiddle and mandolin at nearby Belmont University, and like Stapleton, found that the competing demands on her time (including a nine-year old daughter with husband Jeff King, guitarist in McEntire's band) meant something had to give.
For her, though, The SteelDrivers are where she wants to be, and so she opted to leave McEntire though hastens to add, "Reba's been so supportive."
"I do feel like, with The SteelDrivers, it's kind of been the best version of me that I've been able to put out there, as a singer and as a player. I've been able to kind of meld all the different things I've done in the past, and it's just been very satisfying for me to have it come out and be so well-received."