If there’s one aspect of appreciation that can be taken from our lives each day, it’s definitely the different interactions we have amongst each other. Whether it be a lesson about others, ourselves, or just a piece of positivity, so much can be learned when we come across familiar faces, or connect with new souls.
This month, I had the pleasure of being introduced to the lovely Gabrielle Ross, who is a beautiful talent straight out of New York that has a voice with a purpose. With an extra bright smile, some colorful locks, mixed with a soothing tone in her voice, I instantly felt the light beaming from Gabrielle the second she greeted me. Fortunately, I soon learned over our intimate dinner that her heart and mindset were just as genuine and alluring as she initially appeared.
On the heels of releasing her latest record, “MCM,” which sees a feature from Jeremih, the young songstress is eager to take on 2016 with a full force, as she’s been hitting the studio to gear up her Things Are Gonna Change EP. While she’s hustling up a storm in the music game, Gabrielle also seeks to use her evolving platform to speak out on issues that get swept under the rug. The singer not only wants to help people embrace who they are to the fullest with her #beYOUtiful campaign, but she’s even an advocate for anti-bullying.
It’s not often one comes across authenticity within beautiful souls of the industry, but Gabrielle is one that will be a pleasure for everyone to connect with. Get to know her, her purpose, and what’s coming up for her in our exclusive conversation below.
Lindsey India: How did you get into music and performing? What made you want to pursue it more heavily?
Gabrielle Ross: I got picked on a lot, and it took me a long time to be really comfortable in my skin. I had a great family, no matter how many times I came home crying when people were being mean to me in school. My mom was always my best friend. Both of my parents were great. Music was like my therapy, and I really started writing when I was 14 years old. I was very insecure as a little girl, so I started acting. My mom thought that being on stage was either going to make me comfortable and help me break me out of my shell, or just make me really uncomfortable. It turned out that it was immediately where I felt the most comfortable in the whole world, and I just knew that second that I wanted to be on stage.
Lindsey India: What was your first experience on stage like?
Gabrielle Ross: I guess it was acting. My first big lead role came when I was 11 years old, where I played Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. That was when my dad realized I could sing, even though my mom had always told him. When I was 6 years old, I asked my mom for singing lessons. Finally, when my dad saw me, I opened the show with “Over The Rainbow,” and he was blown away. I actually did that show again when I was 13, and there was a live Toto dog. They even had to train the dog.
Lindsey India: Who are some of your biggest influences in both music and your life in general?
Gabrielle Ross: I grew up listening to Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder, as well as going through my Spice Girls and *NSYNC era [laughs]. My dad’s drive, work ethic, and persistence really inspired me, especially because he never gives up. I always admire that so much, which is why I work so hard. My mom is the kindest, most understanding human being in the whole world. The two of them mushed together are who I want to be when I grow up. They’re the best.
Lindsey India: Let’s talk about your record, “MCM.” The concept is obviously from the social media hashtag, #ManCrushMonday, but where did that evolve from to inspire you to make a song?
Gabrielle Ross: It was the result of a really fun [studio] session. A lot of my music is actually really deep and personal, and the messages are really strong. That time, I was just in the studio with Young Boys, who produced the record, when they started the track. I thought it was so fun, so I decided to get on it. I texted my manager and told them how much I loved it, and we started writing it. As I was going through it, I decided that the hook needed a hashtag theme to it, but I just couldn’t think of anything right away. Once we got back in the studio, I was going through Instagram with one of the writers, and she suggested I use #ManCrushMonday, but make it every day of the week, like your #ManCrushEveryday. We were in the studio really late at BMG, and no one was there, so of course we were just dancing around to it. It was really fun. I had a second verse for the song, so we started sending it out, and it ended up getting into the hands of Jeremih, who really loved it. It kind of just all happened. A few weeks later, we were both in L.A., doing studio sessions. I sort of went and crashed his session, and stopped what he was doing, so we had him lay his verse down. It really just fell into place, and a few weeks later we finally shot the video. The feedback has been amazing, and nothing but positive.
Lindsey India: You just finished doing an overseas tour, and as you said, you love being stage more than anything. What was your favorite stop and why?
Gabrielle Ross: My favorite and least favorite stop was Paris because of a funny story. All of my stuff got stolen out of the van we had, which had my suitcase with all of my show clothes, and performance material. It kind of put a damper on Paris for me, but the title of my EP coming out in maybe a month or so is Things Are Gonna Change, with one of the tracks [having the same name]. I actually recorded it the day of the Paris attacks last year, so I was excited to perform that song in Paris. They were so receptive to it, and I even gave a heartfelt speech about the situation that they showed so much love to. The show just went amazingly, which fixed my mood in Paris instantly. It was really special. All of the shows were great, honestly, but that was the most special moment.
Lindsey India: It sounds like adapting is a big theme in your life, especially with the name of your upcoming EP. How do you feel about the concept of adapting in your life?
Gabrielle Ross: I think, as an artist with this dream that I’ve had since I was practically born, life is just so unpredictable. Everything is so unpredictable. The grind is just non-stop. I think a lot of people see an artist when they finally make it, like a Lady Gaga, or Katy Perry, and think that they release a new song that’s brand new. They don’t realize that sometimes a song can take years and years of work. It’s definitely a grind. You have to kind of be ready for anything to happen at any moment. Being that I’ve been performing since I was so young, you learn to just adapt to all kinds of scenarios that can change in seconds. That’s a big part of my message.
Lindsey India: What about adapting and your message has inspired your EP?
Gabrielle Ross: When I started this EP, I was in a really bad place, which was due to a pretty unhealthy relationship. We all learn from those, and I think we all have one of those relationships where we learn what we stand for and what we won’t stand for again. I was able to come out of it and realize that it was awful, but everything happens for a reason. You might not understand what it is in the moment, but it really helped me transition into a brand new place in my life. It really put me in such a positive place, so I was able to appreciate the bad and learn not to worry as much. I feel like worrying is a complete waste of time. Whatever is meant to be is going to be. God has his plans for everybody, and worrying is an unpleasant way of getting there. I’m very big on being positive.
Lindsey India: I know that anti-bullying is a big part of your message as well. What would you hope to see as far as progressing techniques to help prevent bullying?
Gabrielle Ross: Every show I do, I always tell my fans to come over to me afterwards and talk to me, or even write to me. I even still have so many that write to me all the time, and I respond as much as I can. I feel like the world kind of needs someone like me, or someone like me with a voice to influence young kids and be a good role model that can inspire people to be kind instead of crazy, negative, or mean. You hear of a lot of music that is kind of not the most positive message. I also have songs that I write when I’m sad that aren’t the most positive, but I would like to be a voice to help people get through those tougher times. I’ve seen people unfortunately take their lives due to bullying, and I know if I didn’t have music to get me through my situation, I wouldn’t be the person that I am now. It’s terrible, especially with social media and all of that. It’s harder to control. I feel like if there were more people with a big platform that spoke about it, and brought attention to it, the better it would be.
Lindsey India: How do you stay true to yourself, especially in the music industry?
Gabrielle Ross: I really think it was from my upbringing, and being bullied. I grew up in a neighborhood where the girls would all make friends with each other because they had the same pocketbook. My mom would said, “You’re in 4th grade. I’m not buying you that pocketbook. That’s crazy. You’re not going to make friends off of a pocketbook. You’re going to make friends because they’re really your friends.” At the time, maybe I didn’t understand it, but now I get it. I learned what was important to me and in a friend. I think her bringing me up that way really stationed me at a young age. I found my friends in theater class, music camp, or through music in general. That helped me get through it to. When people are bullied, they feel very alone at the time, and there are so many people that do feel the same way they do. You sort of just have to find them. It’s unfortunate that a lot of people don’t have that support. Thank God I had my mom and my dad to tell me that when I came home crying. I would love to be that person to someone.