JAC ROSS’ ‘SAVED” ANNOUNCES A MUSICIAN TO WATCH FOR
By Sound Check
January 24, 2020
There are moments in time when you hear a new song and you instantly feel different. When you feel like you’ve been hearing that song your entire life — even though you’re hearing it for the first time. When the sound and the meaning of that song coalesces not only around what’s inside of you, but also around the world that the song has been born into. Now, press play on Jac Ross‘ newest single, “Saved,” and tell us you ain’t got that feeling.
Ross is a rare young talent who sounds like an old soul, as he makes his way out of the small town of Live Oak in Northern Florida, raised on church values (musical and spiritual), with craft as a singer, player and writer that was easily spotted by legendary producer Rodney Jerkins, who he now works with. Reared on the classics but — as Jac told AFROPUNK in a short interview — making music that speaks to our times. And if the rest of it is anything like “Saved,” boy, will it ever resonate. Listen to his sound! Read his words! Watch his space!
Listening to “Saved,” it’s obvious that you have taken to a classic gospel-influenced soul sound. Talk a little bit about how this was the music that got under your skin, as opposed to something more contemporary sounding.
Growing up, I was immensely influenced by iconic musicians of all genres. Some soul singers, some that sang gospel and some that didn’t. What always stayed with me is the idea that music has the ability to help us all relate to one another, regardless if you’ve personally experienced the same situations or not. With my debut single “It’s OK To Be Black,” and now with “Saved,” I really focused on the emotions I want you to feel while you’re listening to the music. Emotions can’t be classified as traditional or contemporary — and neither can the music I make. When you listen to Jac Ross, it’s my best attempt at illustrating multiple emotions through many sounds. Some songs may be more R&B- or jazz-inspired, or might even have a little bop to it. At the end of the day it’s about how you feel and that’s timeless.
Talk a little bit about your influences. Who are the “it” singers and songs you studied as a young artist, and who are the folks you listen to and learn from as you get further and further into being a full-time musician?
My influences are those voices that shifted culture with songs such as “What’s Going On?”, “Change Is Gonna Come”, ”Strange Fruit”, “Fight The Power” even up to “The Blacker The Berry.” I studied the techniques of those that used music to advocate for cultural, social, and political issues, to develop my own sound. Even today, I still study their technique in how they reached people, why their music was so effective and their unique way of painting raw, authentic narratives through music.
There’s always a conversation about whether being too much of a traditionalist is a hindrance to reaching today’s audiences, or whether classic music always has lessons that transcend time. Where do you stand on that? And what do you think your sound has to say to the world that is unfolding all around us right now?
I believe good music will always stand the test of time. R&B music or soul music is sampled, chopped and screwed or interpolated to get an array of songs we hear today. I’m proud of the spectrum of artists that are helping to keep the genre going and pushing it into new spaces. My music falls across that spectrum and I want to make music that ages well. Being a traditionalist can also be someone that strongly believes in what they say or do. I strongly believe that regardless of time people will always need love, hope and encouragement. If I can make you feel one of those things, I’ve done what I came here to do. I’m happy.