I’m mourning the death of a wonderful woman, my old friend Dana Rogers. Dana was a gifted musician, an Army veteran, a warm and sharply funny friend. But she had been suffering from a decade-long depression, one that led her in and out of treatment facilities. We saw very little of her over the last couple years. The last I heard from her was an email she sent to a number of musicians sharing a song she had written. I remember reading the email and meaning to reply. But stupidly I never did.
Last month while being treated for depression at the VA, she got placed on suicide watch. Unfortunately, this designation carried very little weight because shortly after being released, Dana purchased a handgun. On Tuesday of the following week, she used that gun to take her life.
Many of us are now wishing we had been a better friend–like, I really should have responded with encouragement to her email. I hope she knows how much we’ll all miss her and how much I admired her.
In her honor, a few friends (me, Aric Nitzberg, Brennan Nase and Todd Harrison) took her demo, the one from the email, and added live instruments behind it. We were able to do this because Erich Avinger, guitarist/engineering, had the original track she used for that demo (midi, voice). It was an emotional experience playing to her singing in the headphones. We played this recording at her memorial service. I should also note that Dana wrote the lyrics.
A photo of the score taking during the recording…
Here’s one more recording, a duet we recorded at my cafe in 2005–she frequently performed there with me. Dana had perfect pitch and was constantly changing the keys of tunes based on what she was hearing in her head. You can hear her doing that on this recording. It’s also fun listening to her banter at the end of the track.
As a side note, Dana is the second woman veteran I’ve known to commit suicide within the last year. Anecdotal or indicative? Tragic either way.