|Florida Artists: Gamble Rogers|
a 30-year career and thousands of concert engagements throughout the
U.S. as a headline performer, Gamble Rogers was the prolific "Florida
troubadour" and ambassador of Florida folk. He perpetuated and
popularized the traditions of folk music, storytelling, writing, and
Gamble was widely recognized as a guitar virtuoso. He played a pivotal role in the re-emergence of the art form of storytelling and inspired legions of other storytellers. A second generation Floridian, he was born and raised in Winter Park and made St. Augustine his home. His shows usually chronicled stories and songs about the colorful characters that populated his mythical Florida county, "Oklawaha." He served as a mentor and had a profound influence on numerous young artists. He gained national prominence through 30 years of appearances at the legendary folk clubs and festivals around the country
Born in Winter Park, Florida, on January 31, 1937, Gamble Rogers was the namesake of two prominent architects. As a young man, he chose the path of a musician. While on his way to interview for a job at an architecture firm, Rogers attended an Serendipity Singers audition in New York. Gamble Rogers borrowed a guitar, tried out, and was admitted to the group. Gamble Rogers played lead, acoustic and electric guitars for the group. Music led to storytelling, as the band asked Gamble to be their spokesman. He introduced and verbally set the stage for their songs when they appeared on television shows such as "The Tonight Show," "Hootenany," and "The Ed Sullivan Show."Gamble Rogers began performing around Florida in the 1960s, often performing with other noted Florida singer-songwriters Paul Champion, Jim Bellew, and Will McLean. By the 1970s, Gamble Rogers was a regular fixture at the Florida Folk Festival, often as the headliner. "I have been incredibly fortunate in being able to make my living doing what I love -- entertaining," the native Floridian once said.
Gamble's stories have grown both in magnitude and scope, becoming as popular as the songs they introduced. While touring in the United States and Canada, his audiences grew steadily in number as fans returned to show after show, bringing friends to share the experience. His delightfully entertaining and skillful command of the English language prompted numerous invitations to teach in both classrooms and workshops, including a chance to share his art with others during frequent return engagements at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesboro, Tennessee.
A recurring theme in Rogers' songs and stories are the characters and places in the fictional Oklawaha County, Florida though his earlier works referenced characters of the same names residing in non-fictional Winter Park, Florida and Habersham County, Georgia. Through years of on-stage apprenticeship, Rogers refined and edited his one-man show into a single story line - a continuum he titled, Oklawaha County Laissez-Faire.
From 1988 to 1991, Gamble Rogers served in an official ambassadorial role for the Florida Division of Tourism and the Florida Folk Festival. Gamble Rogers received a Florida Folk Heritage Award posthumously in 1993.
Gamble Rogers lost his life trying to save a drowning swimmer and was awarded a Kiwanis Award for Bravery and a Carnegie Award for heroism in recognition of that. While Rogers was camping at Flagler Beach on October 10, 1991, a frightened young girl ran to him, begging him to help her father, who was in trouble in rough surf. Compromised by spinal arthritis that had been worsening since childhood, Rogers nevertheless grabbed an air mattress and headed into the ocean in a rescue attempt. Both men died in the surf. In honor of his heroism, the Florida Legislature renamed the state park Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area at Flagler Beach. (pictured above)
As a self-described "modern troubadour", Rogers influenced musicians such as Jimmy Buffett and David Bromberg, with the former dedicating his album Fruitcakes to him. The Gamble Rogers Middle School in St. Augustine. is named in his honor.
Florida Folk Singer
Spanning a 30-year career and thousands of concert engagements throughout the U.S. as a headline performer, Gamble Rogers was the prolific "Florida troubadour" and ambassador of Florida folk. He perpetuated and popularized the traditions of folk music, storytelling, writing, and philosophical humor. A recurring theme in Rogers' songs and stories are the characters and places in the fictional Oklawaha County, Florida.
DOB: January 31, 1937 00:00:00.000