Kevin Ross Talks "Someday at Christmas"
Thu, 27 Dec 2012 10:00:21
Kevin Ross possess a voice for the ages.
As far as R&B cats go, he's as smooth and slick as they come. That's the first thing that you'll notice when you spin his take on Stevie Wonder's classic "Someday at Christmas". At the same time, Ross is his own man, and that's what makes him such a refreshing presence.
In this exclusive interview, Kevin Ross talks to ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino about "Someday at Christmas", his biggest influences, what's next, and so much more.
What's the story behind "Someday at Christmas"?
It's ironic. I went to the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C. They did a show every Christmas. In tenth grade, it was my first time doing a Stevie Wonder cover, and that was the song I was assigned. I did "Someday at Christmas" and "Ave Maria". I was always so attached to "Someday at Christmas" because of the message, the way it was written, and the way Stevie delivered it. I wouldn't have guessed in a million years that I would record it some day later professionally [Laughs]. It lingered around. I wanted to do a Christmas song. I recorded it in my living room and sent it to the label. Everybody was on one accord, and we went with it.
Do you feel like you put your own stamp on it?
Absolutely! Christmas time is one of those seasons musicians and artists can really show off who they are as far as musicality is concerned. Christmas music is super musical and jazz-y. A lot of the standards are very musical. For a lot of artists, it's pleasure for us to redo those covers and harmonize. To be honest, you can show off though by adding a high note at the end or throwing in a chord change. There are less politics involved in Christmas songs. You can show who you are and what's to come musically and vocally.
What is to come?
At the top of the year, I'm going to do a cover of "A Song for You", written by Leon Russell and made famous by Donny Hathaway. We've got a visual that looks great. It's a special record.
What artists shaped you?
The first person that comes to mind is Stevie Wonder. He's a big influence in my career, so is Donny Hathaway and Smokey Robinson. Then, there's "Babyface". Going into contemporary times, you've got Ne-Yo. I can't forget Marvin Gaye too. I was drawn to these artists when I was younger. Especially with Stevie, there are so many colors and textures. You're thrown into a brand new world with every song he puts out. He took you on a musical journey. I gravitated towards that, and it enhanced my imagination.
Is there a soul resurgence now?
To be honest, I think soul music never left. In popular music, dance and this new wave stuff have been dominating the charts. Back in the day, R&B was pop. Hip hop was pop at one time. Soul never left, but it's coming back into the forefront again. People want to hear heartfelt songs. Adele is an example that soul is here to stay. Everybody has their own twist on it with their own songs and experiences. It's coming back to the forefront, but it never left.
Do you have a vision for the album as whole?
It's called Breaking Ground. I'm 25-years-old, and it's my perspective at a quarter of a century. Everybody is always interested in the grand opening or new condos or buildings. If you live by condos or apartments building up, they're not pretty. Sometimes, there's dirt everywhere. Streets are closed because of construction. It's not a pretty sight. That goes into life as well. Everything in life isn't the grand opening. I'm allowing people into my life and the imperfectness of it—everything. The project is the grand opening. Inside of it, you'll have snippets of the before and after in my experiences.
What inspires you outside of music?
I enjoy time with the family. I love watching comedy movies and standup. There are guys like Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor. I love to eat, rock climb occasionally, and zip line. I'm super active. I take the time to enjoy my life.
I'm super excited about everything. I want this year to be a very consistent year for me. I want to show people I'm more than your typical R&B artist. I'm very creative in my approach.
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