Written By Kelly Holm
Dropping out of medical school to pursue a career in music is, understandably, something that would make a lot of parents nervous. But, for Guyanese singer-songwriter Juke Ross, it was the way to go.
“In medical school, there was a pageant,” Ross said. “I signed up to sing a song. It was ‘I’m Yours’ by Jason Mraz.”
After watching Ross perform, his classmates were quick to rally behind him and encourage his talent. Though he’d performed at school when he was much younger, it was years later that he began to seriously pursue his dream. As Mraz’s lyrics foretold, Ross opened up his plans and became free, trading the stethoscope and scrubs for the studio. He now lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he has penned tracks like “Colour Me” and “Crazy Love.”
“Juke Ross [in] Guyana is a homeboy; very introverted, very quiet, very calm. Juke Ross in Brooklyn is much more… busy. It’s the city that never sleeps, so it provides you with much more to do, much more to see, much more to explore about the city and about oneself. I think it forces you to ask questions of yourself.”
The restructuring of one’s life goals indeed provokes many questions. But, Ross has traveled all around the world to find answers. As if one transcontinental journey wasn’t enough, Ross spent the summer of 2019 leaving footprints all over Europe. He had gigs throughout France as well as the UK, and played at festivals such as Best Kept Secret in the Netherlands and Bergenfest in Norway, the home of his mentor Kygo.
“Getting my music out there [has been a big challenge],” Ross relays. “…getting in front of audiences consistently, getting inside of good ears consistently. Luckily, that’s been happening more and more.”
He’s captured crowds stateside as well. Near the Canada border, Buffalo, New York was one early tour stop.
“They were like my first early listening performance crowds,” he recalls and mentions that he went to see Niagara Falls while visiting.
2019 marked the release of his second EP, Drifting Apart. Its tracks include “Burned by the Love,” “Trading Places” and “We Never Die.”
“I love all of [the songs] equally, I really do,” Ross says. “I guess [that’s] because I know the journey between all of those songs and I know the construction of each line.”
Ross elaborated on what differentiates the new release from 2017’s Grey.
“Grey was the beginning… it was diving into music and not really knowing who I was or what I wanted,” he said. “ Drifting Apart is a continuation… it’s me not being whole… and having to find myself.”
And based on the success he’s had in the past, we’re confident he’ll have plenty of time in the industry to do just that.
“The goal is to keep making music, and always make good music,” he says. “[In 2019] I was very honored to perform at the Royal Albert Hall. I think that that’s one of those places that has been on a list of mine and I didn’t even know it, until I was there and I was crying. I just want to be able to share my music with as [many] people as possible… [and] really make a difference.”
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