Written by Kelly Holm
“If you live to see it, you were made to do it.” These words of wisdom are from singer-songwriter Kevin Ross, who “lived to see” the creation of his own record label, Art Society Music Group, earlier this year. But of course, that choice of words is far too passive. Ross didn’t just live to see it: he did it himself.
“I just wanted to create a home for myself that best represented what I stood for,” Ross said. “I want my future children to have something that they own from me, and to instill in them early on the importance of ownership while you’re here on this earth… Everything starts and ends with you.”
Lofty goals, right? But, Ross is no stranger to achievement, especially after his formative years at Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC. He’s been praised by Maxwell, one of the founding fathers of neo-soul, and hopes to add Stevie Wonder to his list of devotees as well. A prime time holiday special on television and a Grammy would be the icing on the cake. But, everyone has got to start somewhere.
“I think the church, community center, or school [are] the best places to start in general,” he says. All too often, we neglect to realize the impact that strong roots can have on our trajectories from an early age, and that no beginning is ever truly “humble.”
Ross’ latest step? A new single, “Thing Called Love,” which he released a few days ago. It will be featured on his upcoming record, Audacity.
“[‘Thing Called Love’] is a great re-introduction to where I’m at,” Ross said. “It’s the most challenging and dynamic song I’ve ever performed.”
He promises that, “Thing Called Love” is characteristic of a gritty, new sound which will define Audacity.
“The theme [of this record] is vulnerability,” he says. “It shows more dimensions of who I am as a man and as an artist.”
You can also catch Ross posting acapella mash-up videos of beloved songs like Sister Act 2’s “Oh Happy Day,” acting as beatbox, backing vocals and lead vocals, all in one. He says that this is first and foremost a nostalgia project for him.
“Everyone my age is starting to have families of their own,” Ross said. “It’s always good to reflect back [to] when times were simpler [and] easier.”
And Ross hopes to one day join his peers in parenthood. But, until then, he’ll keep dispensing tunes and wisdom from afar.
“Don’t be too quick to sign anything,” he urges his musical colleagues, in true Dad fashion. “What you invest in yourself will always dictate how people invest in you.”
He knows never to sell himself short and that once you’ve accepted the awesomeness that is you, there’s not much left to do except visualize the show going well.
“Most creatives downplay our gifts and may feel unworthy of certain opportunities, or to be in the room with elite movers and shakers,” Ross said. But, “the biggest challenges are within your own perception of who you think you are and aren’t.”
Once you’ve accepted the awesomeness that is you, there’s not much left to do except visualize the show going well.
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