Roger is the Founder, CEO, and Director of A&R at Capsicum Records,
as well as the driving force behind bringing the business to life. He
co-wrote 10 of the 13 songs on the inaugural "Reggae-In-Fusion
Album#1," co-produced 11 of the songs, and tirelessly promoted our music and our
artists in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Jamaica including radio
interviews and co-sponsoring the 2010 EME awards where he also presented the
Female Vocalist of the Year Award to Cherine Anderson.
As Director of Artists and Repertoire, Roger works with the other
principals to attract artists to the label, matches artists with the right songs,
assigns a lead producer, authorizes production budgets, and schedules release
dates for all recorded product. He is also responsible for obtaining
copyright protection for all original repertoire, or mechanical recording license
rights to all previously published repertoire, as well as securing performance
rights licensing royalties for airplay and live performances.
While other white kids his age were listening to the early rock and pop
sounds of the ‘50s and ‘60s, Roger grew up listening to Stax-Volt,
Motown, and The Sound of Philadelphia. That raw edgy music gloved in
silk on the right hand side of the AM radio dial fired his imagination
and touched his emotions, eventually becoming his first love,
transcending its historic connection and structure from Afro-Cuban
rhythms, the call and response shouts and hollers of slaves, and the
choirs of the Black church to reach into his own latent musical soul.
Maybe it wasn’t so surprising that when he began to express himself
musically, that the genre he always chose was Rhythm and Blues. With
the exception of his parents’ classical, opera and Broadway record
collection, and their religious music, R&B was, in fact, all he knew.
A friend and fan for many years of South Philadelphia’s renowned Buddah
recording artist Davy Morris, one night Roger showed Morris a few
original song lyrics he’d written.
“I asked him to tell me straight up if I should be writing songs or
selling insurance. I promised to abide by his critique. And I would
have, too. But Davy read them over during his 20-minute break between
sets and asked me if he could take a shot at composing them. I was
dumbstruck and flattered he thought they were even worth his time, and
even more so the following week when we cut five songs together and
then ‘sold’ three from the little piano and 4-track vocal demos we did
Walter Kahn took two pieces for some artists he was producing at his
studios in Queen Village, and Davy’s boyhood friend, Billy Paul, who’d
won a Grammy for “Me and Mrs. Jones,” sat in one night at Pavio’s in
Bustleton PA where Davy was performing, and he took one, too.
“I was in complete disbelief and hooked at the same time. It wasn’t
just Davy. Some guys I met who wrote for the Trammps (Alan Felder and
Bunny Harris) and another guy who did arrangements for LTD (Bobby
Martin) also told me I had a gift."
When initially invited by his idol Kenny Gamble to join the staff of
Philadelphia International Records in 1977,first as a staff writer with
Mighty Three Music and later as a staff producer with Gamble-Huff
Productions. Roger was almost exclusively a lyricist.
“When I started there, I didn’t know the difference between a bass
line, a chord progression and a melody.” I either wrote words to be
composed, or sometimes wrote words that someone’s chords or melody
notes put in my head. But there was an imaginary line down the middle
of my mind that, as a non-musician, I thought was impossible to cross.
I had rhythm - but they wrote the music – a complete enigma to me. I
had all this music in me, but no way to play it, demonstrate it,
explain it. So every day I’d ask these ‘how high is up?’ questions
like: ‘how does adding the seventh change the feel of the chord? why
does flatting the third make it a minor chord? why does playing the
fourth in the bass give it that jazz feel? why does going back and
forth between major and minor chords create a musical tension? why does
flatting the fifth make it bluesy?’ I mean hundreds of them every day.
I was so hungry to learn my craft; I knew some guys would see me coming
down the hall, duck into a writer’s room and lock the door, but they
just knew so much. How would I ever learn it? Guys like Bill Bloom
should be sainted for their patience.”
But in becoming a songwriting protégé of Gamble, with daily mentoring
to hone his craft by Thom Bell, Bruce Hawes, the late Slim (Sherman)
Marshall, and Gene McFadden & John Whitehead, Roger was soon asked
by other staff with not too thinly-veiled resentment, “Why don’t you go
write pop or country songs -- this is our thing; we can’t go to
Nashville; why come here and take the food off our plate?” Time and again
he would explain to those he had admired for years (but with whom he now
battled daily for that hit single, that “B side” or that album cut on a roster
artist), that he didn’t know any other way to make his songs come out except
how he heard them in his head, and how he heard them in his head was in
R & B.
“Looking back at it now, of course my stuff sounded like theirs,” Roger
explains. “We were all using the same MFSB studio musicians, the same
Sigma Sound Studios engineers, and I was simply emulating what I ‘knew’
– unconsciously or deliberately. The bass lines were melodic. The drums
and percussion were samba-like. The strings first entered in the second
verse or in the lift. An oboe could be counter-point to trail the lead. The
horns were punctuation. They had been shaping my tastes and my instincts
Like Kenny Gamble and Thom Bell, though, John Whitehead was truly
color-blind when it came to talent. As Roger notes, “Billy Paul stepped
forward very early on my behalf and told Leon Huff he wanted to record
something I’d written with Davy Morris -- I think it was “While There
Is Still A Little Time” -- but, even though I’m rarely at a loss for
words –what lyricist is? -- John’s life and senseless murder years later
touched me in ways I can’t begin to explain...
“In my early days at PIR, when I was virtually shunned by almost
everyone but KayGee, and Thom Bell was almost always out in Seattle,
it was John who would put a buzz in the ear of one artist or another,
and say, “You really gotta get with Meltzer and listen to his stuff. The
guy can write. He knows your voice. He’ll get you a hit. These other guys
all hold back their best stuff waiting for the guys who already ship platinum.
He’s not like that. He’ll give you his best songs and just write new ones
for the next project they put up on the board. Go on, check him out.”
Eventually Roger won them over, his resolve strengthened by the struggle.
But unable to get the prolific volume of material he wrote recorded, he left
on amicable terms at the end of 1979, going independent, growing musically,
and collaborating again with Davy Morris and ever since with a variety of
R & B (including with many other former TSOP staff), pop, country, rock,
labor, Christian contemporary/gospel and reggae singer-songwriters to
broaden the market for his hooky lyrics and melodies, repeatedly hitting
the charts – some 48 times -- in all these genres. Over time, a lot of artists
in different genres have “checked him out” and liked his songs.
Roger also learned the business side of the music business by going
independent. With the advent of the internet and the development of music
sites and music downloads, he saw the potential to exploit this new way of
selling music. In the meantime he had fallen in love with reggae music, and
found it allowed him to incorporate the other sounds he loved. From these
elements Roger started Capsicum Records and the Reggae-in-Fusion album.
Among his greatest “influences and inspirations,” in reggae Meltzer cites Bob
Marley, Dennis Brown, David Hinds (Steel Pulse) and Maxi Priest; in pop, Neil
Diamond, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, John Lennon, Alan and Marilyn Bergmann,
Sandy Linzer; in blue-eyed soul, Hall & Oates, Wayne Cochran, and Bill Medley
(Righteous Brothers); in country, George Jones, George Strait, Garth Brooks,
Lonestar and Rascal Flatts; in jazz/rock-funk Santana and Hendrix.
“In R & B, the list is so long; but obviously coming from Philly it includes Kenny
Gamble, Thom Bell, Linda Creed, Jerry Butler, Sherman Marshall, McFadden &
Whitehead, and Bruce Hawes. But I can’t forget Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye,
Philippe Wynn (Spinners), Lamont Dozier, Smokey Robinson, Quincy Jones,
Stevie Wonder, Lionel Ritchie, the Iseleys, James Brown, Bobby Womack,
Latimore. I’m unashamedly old school, and they ARE music to me.
CEO and Director of A&R
Capsicum Records, LLC
Hartford, CT, USA
"Roots on the bottom, and pop on the top"
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Producer and Host of The Capsicum Show
Datz Hits Radio 99.7-FM in Greater Boston/
www.datzhitsradio.com on the internet
9:00 - 10:00 p.m. Wednesday Eastern Standard & Jamaica Time
8:00- 9:00 p.m. Central Standard Time
2:00 - 3:00 a.m. GMT Thursday
UFDV Radio 87.9-FM in Kingston
www.sometroradio.com in Dallas, TX
100.7 Sound-FM in Manchester, U.K./
www.soundfm.co.uk on the internet