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For Kevin Ross this story began when he was listening to Lisa Stansfield’s “All Around The World” from his car seat as a baby. He went on to obsess over the likes of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Donnie Hathaway, and Smokey Robinson. Following his high school years at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, he earned a scholarship & degree to Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music. 

As a solo artist, he wrote, recorded, and produced “Long Song Away” in 2016, toppling both the Adult R&B Songs Chart and the Urban Adult Contemporary Chart at #1. In between collaborations with Kevin Hart, Ne-Yo, and T.I., he built a bulletproof solo discography highlighted by The Awakening [2017], Drive EP [2017], and Audacity Vol. 1-2 [2020]. From the latter, “God Is A Genius” generated 13 million streams across platforms. 

In 2019 he founded Art Society Music Group as the home for all of his releases. Beyond acclaim from Billboard, Rolling Stone, and BET, Washington Post proclaimed, “Ross doesn’t sound like he’s trying to find a musical identity. He knows who he is, and his album reflects that.”

So, he is not a rookie, but a passionate and experienced artist.

Put in his own words, “when you listen to me, I hope the music makes you feel something, puts a smile on your face, or provides comfort,” he leaves off. “It’s much bigger than me. I want you to make memories to these songs. I couldn’t ask for anything else. For me to be complete, I need to write, produce, arrange, mix, and perform on stage to affect people. I feel like I’m doing what I need to do, and this is where I’m meant to be today”, Kevin says.


Let’s talk about Sweet Release & How was it born? What were the arguments that gave life to this song?

When I create a project, I like to start with a focus track to point me in the direction I need to go sonically. The record on Drive 2 was “Looking For Love”. Once I had my focus track, I needed a companion. A record that solidified cohesion to what was to come. That record was “Sweet Release”. There were no arguments, just the tension of life that inspired the song. Everybody deserves to indulge in whatever brings them joy or peace. 


Do you consider it a love song?

I do consider it a love song. There’s love in letting go.


People unconsciously connect with you through the songs you have written for other artists. Is the process of writing for yourself different from writing for another artist?

It’s definitely different, because when I write for myself it’s always intentional. When you write for others, sometimes you can write a song and it coincidentally fits that artist’s narrative for their project.


Recently, my mom sent me the first CD that I loved from start to finish and that I actually took from a classmate. I’ve heard it a billion times. It was Natalie Imbruglia & Left Of The Middle . What was the first Album that you bought or one that you listened to so much, that everyone else at home hated it?

I think the first album that I bought that my family got sick of was Usher’s 8701 album.


So, if you had to make a covers album with the songs that have been your favorites of all time, which ones would be present?

I would do “Gravity” by John Mayer, “That Girl” or “As” by Stevie Wonder, “Help Me” by Joni Mitchell, “Remind Me” by Patrice Rushen, “Send For Me” by Atlantic Starr & Bicycle Race or “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen.


Do you listen to music in physical formats? How do you relate to that?

I only play music in physical formats when I’m back home in DC. I go through my CD collection for nostalgia and vibe out. I can’t listen to new music on physical formats, oddly enough.


You went to D.C.’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts and graduated from Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Do you consider yourself a professional or an apprentice or something else entirely?

I’m blessed to say that music is my profession. But putting the words professional and music together is like drizzling yellow mustard on top of your favorite ice cream. Gross. I’m an artist.


I want you to tell me about your current perspective in the music industry, how is your relationship with the platforms, Spotify, TikTok, etc.? How do you feel about all that?

I think it’s dope to connect with your audience on multiple platforms. You just have to know when to sign off to tap back into reality. 


In recent times it has become common to sell song catalogs for a few million dollars. What plans do you think the multinationals have by investing so much money in those catalogs? What do you think they are going to do with it in the future?

Let’s just say, to invest is to understand the short-term risk for a long-term reward.


What diagnosis do you make of the current state of anglophone music?

I think that the Anglosphere has been saying that they want something different, and for the past few years you can hear the sound of music on a global level diversify. Language is now secondary to the feeling that the music gives you. That’s beautiful.


You have won many awards, but exactly what is ‘success’ to you? And how do fame and money translate for you?

Success is being able to live how you want by doing what you love. Fame and money are supposed to be used as tools, not shackles. 



Story: Mariana González Photos: Courtesy of the artist




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