America's Got Talent's Kameron Ross: Country Music's Pride

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Can you imagine being on America’s Got Talent, singing your heart out, and then Simon Cowell cuts you off? That’s exactly what happened to our guest on this episode of Metrosource Minis. BUT – what could have been a moment of disaster was actually a moment of triumph as singer-songwriter Kameron Ross continued his audition, singing acapella, and wowing every one of the judges. 

Kameron Ross started his country music journey at the age of 8. when his parents took him to his first concert to see Shania Twain at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. That experience changed his entire life, as he walked away knowing what he was meant to do in life. He soon began singing at local country music concerts that allowed budding artists the chance to make a name for themselves. In 2006, he put out an album produced by T.G. Sheppard & Kelly Lang called When I'm Done Lovin' You. In 2010, he played at A Day In The Country music fest in Houston, opening for The Band Perry, Miranda Lambert, and many other artists. Around the same time, he started to become more in tune with who he was as a person as well, eventually coming out as gay. Soon after Kameron put his country music career on hold after he noticed a loss of interest from the same people that had been booking him all these years.  

Last year, Kameron appeared on season 15 of NBC's America's Got Talent. Kameron excelled in the competition making it all the way to the live Quarter Finals. Today, Kameron is busy performing everywhere, releasing new music (now streaming), and just released remixes of his hit singles. 

On this episode, we chat about the pros and cons of getting in the music business at such an early age, staying true to his Texan roots, coming to terms with his sexuality and its effect on his career and family life, the reality of reality TV, country music fans and the LGBTQ community, his creative process, labels, and his Palm Springs debut…with host Alexander Rodriguez.  

This is metro source minis, the official podcast to Metro source magazine and home of short form interviews with your favorite personalities from the lgbtq world and beyond. Quick, Fun and informative. It's metro source on the go, out in proud since one thousand nine hundred and ninety. Well, hello, hello, hello, this is metro source minis. I'm your host, Alexander Rodriguez, lead writer for Metro source and avid podcaster. Can you imagine being on America's got talent singing and then Simon Cowell says stop? I cannot even imagine. That's exactly what happened to our guest on this episode of Metro Source Minis. But what could have been a moment of disaster was actually a moment of triumph, as singer Songwriter camer Ross continued his audition, singing Acapella, wowing every single one of those judges. Cameron Ross started his country music journey at the age of Eight, when his parents took come to see his first concert, the amazing Chania Twain. Yes, Carl and that experience changed his whole entire life. He knew right away that that's the music or that's the industry that he wanted to get into, and so he soon began singing for local country musics rodeos that really allowed budding country artist to make a name for themselves, and in two thousand and six he put out his first album, produced by TJ shepherd and Kelly Lang, called when I'm done loving you, and we're not done love in Cameron Ross, by the way. In two thousand and ten he played at a day in the country music fest in Houston, opening for the Band Perry, Randa, Lambert and many more. And around that same time he started to become more in tune to his sexuality, sow we shall we say, and that kind of put a damper on his music career, as the bookings kind of stopped, and so he researched on season fifteen last year on America's got talent, excelled in the competition, making it all the way to the live quarter finals, and today he's busy performing everywhere he can post covid releasing new music streaming everywhere, by the way, including remixes of hits, of his hits. Please welcome Mr Cameron Ross. Hello, hello, hello, Howdy, how you doing? If you hate it, like every interview they have that like tip their hat, so to speak, to your country, like hey, y'all cloudy, and you're like, isn't that cute? Never heard that. Oh No, I y'all a is my like one of my biggest words that I am very fond of. So if I could use y'all probably every other every other word, I probably would. So now I've had the joy of seeing some of your very early footage. We're talking young Cameron, that some of these rodeos. God, you were so young, not that you were, looks have changed, but like God, you were young and a skinny, though scrawny things thing, and I was a tip it. Yes, you were. I was not, by the way, jealous, Hashtag Jealous. But what were some of the benefits and what were some of the not so great benefits about getting into the music industry at such a young age? So at a young age it is, you know, my mom paid my manager, so a lot of the stuff that you know would happen with my music, my mom had a big influence on, you know kind of what she felt was the right direction to go with things, and she's also at the same time, you know some of the risk that you might have taken if you were you know, if I was a little bit older, might have not been taken when I was younger, because my mom is always got mom had on first and foremost, and so you know there's some things that you know, I might have missed out on opportunities because she was like, you know, we can't have that or go down that road. But at the same time, you know, she always had my best interest with it and getting it out of young age. I also feel like you don't have a good understanding for who you are and...

...kind of what the Path is that you want to go on. And as you get older your music matures, your voice matures, things like that. So I was very fortunate to have a mature voice at think I like thirteen years old. I was singing songs by like Josh Turner. So I had a deeper voice at a very young age. But you know, it's one of those things that I'm very grateful at the same time for getting the experiences I was younger to help me build as a person being gold who I am now in the age I am now. So you know, I kind of had a stage mom growing up as well. When I was in the theater world. You know, it has its positives and definitely does not. You know it's positive, but you know, it's kind of weird to kind of be in that relationship with a family member because it's definitely mixing business and pleasure and then the roles kind of kind of get a little blurry. How did the rest of your family take that, with your mom spending so much time on focusing on your career, where they also supportive of you performing and kind of being the focus of the family, so to speak? Yeah, I mean my I have an older sister and a younger sister and my younger sister played club volleyball. I don't know how my mom did it. If, like I was her age at when she was doing this, I don't know if I'd be able to do it and spread myself that then she would try to make every volleyball game she possibly can make for both of my sisters and then, you know, make sure that she was supporting us in every way that she possibly could. But it definitely a lot of weekends were spent on me traveling two different towns, like small towns, all over the place to seeing everywhere that we possibly could, sometimes making some money sometimes, you know, we were out money just to get me the exposure. So it definitely it definitely had times. You know, can be rough when now that I'm older and kind of not necessarily in their shoes with kids, but able to understand what it is that they have to juggle their job plus all their spare time for themselves and not getting any of that because they're focusing on, you know, our dreams and trying to make those come true. So it definitely made me, as I'm older, appreciate that more and know that, like you know, as a kid, you know, your parents always say you're going to appreciate this when you're older and as a kid you'd never believe that and it's always like the worst staying in that moment. But I definitely have a good appreciation for it now. I'm nothing from looking at your earlier footage. You know, we have this kind of conception of what a young gay kid looks like. You know, what are some of the mannerisms? What are the some stereotypes right and a lot of times a stereotype is failed. But I have to say, in looking at your early footage, it was so country, not anything that I would like pinpoint there like, oh, he's going to come out someday. So how, in this environment, did you start to come into tune with your sexuality? When did you first kind of realize it wasn't like the other boy ways and what they were, you know, attracted to? Yeah, so, as I was younger, you know, I grew up hunting, I grew up fish and all that stuff and, you know, weekends when I had moments that were spent at the ranch and all of that. So, you know, I was always that man's man, kind of that boy that, you know, dad was taken everywhere doing all the all the manly stuff, and I, you know, wore cowboy boots, I wore the the stereotypical like wrangler, cowboy cowboy boots, the wranglers, the cowboy hat. The only thing that was a little bit different as I had very long hair, which was a choice and a lot of work at the same time. But you know, I remember growing...

...up not really knowing like, let's say, for example, once I got to high school, I didn't know it was gay. I remember I got picked on being called gay all of the time, but it wasn't something that I necessarily knew because I had a girlfriend, you know, and all that stuff, and I was interested in dating girls and and I remember one day specifically that I had. It was three family members. They were all cousins. They kind of cornered me after school. There was nobody around, and we're like pushing me back and forth and like really picking on me until my sister walked up. So my sister, my older sisters, like six one, and she's a very big boned at girl, and so she like she is one that can intimidate somebody at that point in time, and so I remember her kind of getting me out of that situation and me not knowing what to think because all like, you know, these three other guys are like picking on me, calling me gay, things like that, and I didn't myself know that and it wasn't until I got into my kind of late teens, early s that, you know, that interest kind of came and the exploration of that came and it definitely was one of those things that I don't want to say I fought, but at the same time I did fight, because, you know, you hear about like people not being accepted being gay, things like that, and so I think I had a fear of that at the same time, and so it definitely was hard, especially, you know, growing up a little bit more country and a bigger city, to do that. But, like now, looking at that, I wish, you know, I would have came to terms of stuff and accepted it a little bit more sooner and kind of defended myself on who I was. Now, how did do you're coming out? How did that affect your relationship with your mom, with the music industry at Larne? So my my mom took it a little bit hard. I kind of ran off for a weekend and didn't say anything with a boy. I don't think I've ever told the story before, and you know, ran off and I kind of disappeared for a little bit and my mom, once I kind of told her, took it very hard. You know, she just didn't understand that you know why I've kind of choosing this path and it was one of those things that at that point in time, like I knew kind of once I came out to her, that you know, I was gay. You know, it's just who I am, and so I kind of gave her a little bit of an ultimatum and, you know, told her it was kind of a this is. I can't change this and you either want me in your life or it's something that you know, if we can't see each other as much just because we don't see I'd eye on this situation that maybe it's something that we need to take a break from, and she took a little bit of you know, her kind of trying to open her mind and accepted and now my mom is asking me now that I'm dating my partner Leoh, okay, when are Y'all getting age? When is this happening? So she's like completely comfortable with me being gay and extremely proud of it. My whole family, is my sister's you know, they didn't bad and eye when I told them. My Dad was probably really cool, like probably one of the coolest you know dad situations with it. He wasn't like okay, like you know, this is a no, we're gonna disown you or anything. He was very accepting and receptive of of me being gay. So it definitely I had a little bit of a rough start with it, but in the end it after a little...

...bit of time they came around and then with music coming out, you know, it's one of those things that I was posting a social media about me being gay a little bit more, and then that's when I started to see a shift in you know, gigs, like me not getting book certain places, or small town bar that used to book me asn't booking me anymore, kind of things. And after some years, you know, after some time, I stopped kind of posting about her way I'm I kind of withdrew that a little bit and try to focus on music and myself and try to figure all that out, like which direction, what I was going to do next, and that's when, you know, kind of really pursued you know, I'm a hundred percent happy with WHO I am. I think music is a dream that I've been after forever and it's not something I want to quit on following. So I've just kind of really tried to become an advocate, to push who I am as a person but at the same time do everything that I would have done knowing that you know, I am gay and there's absolutely not a problem with that at all. You're still so proud of being text and you live in Texas, you're in the country music circuit, you're single. If I could go back, really celebrates it's a love song to to the hometown life, to the actual hometown that that you grew up. And from my Super Gay perspective, I'm like, if that kind of environment had shunned me in any way, I would be like buy girl, I'm going to La. This is an environment that you still are thriving in, that you that you ascribe yourself to. How come you didn't just break away and and run away? And you know you're still kind of in it, so to speak. Yeah, I you know, I went off to college in a small town and Texas and so a very college town and very, very country, and so that was I was allowed to kind of express myself a little bit more there. But you know, I didn't. I guess the unknown of going to a different place and completely leaving everything by Hind is what kind of kept me here at that moment. And you know, when I came out, just not you know, pack my bag and leave in town. But you know, I completely adore my family. My family is amazing, so not having them there would have been rough and having their support. But at the same time, you know, I got away and moved around all over Texas at the same time to really figure out some things for myself. Okay, let's talk about America's got talent. I remember when you hit the scene. It was during covid you know, this Texas boy here, you know, filming in La and and all the lights and the cameras and the action and all this. What was going through your mind minutes before stepping on stage? And how did they prepare you for your audition? So you, you kind of talk with when it comes down to agt preparing for the audition is a huge, huge process. You're working with production and they're asking for a million things and you're running through a million songs to get like the right song that's good for them but also good for yourself, and kind of sit through tons of songs until you kind of hit that one that hits right for everyone. And then that's kind of where we go. And then when you get to start, when you when I got to La, you kind of go into this holding room where you just sit. It's a lot of weight, weight, weight, go, go, go, and so you would do all your interviews, all kind of like your be roles, things like that, and then your rehearsal. You would have a rehearsal. You...

...work with the music team and you'd have a rehearsal if you're a singer or a musician, and then kind of run through that kind of stuff, and then when it came down to the time of the actual audition, I think I was the I for sure was the last person on stage when it came down to the filming, and then I I think I was like the second or third to last personal audition for the entire season. So leading up to that, you just I am was super nervous when I kind of came out and my partner Ly always with me and so, you know, I it was very unsure because my whole family was there and they got rid of the crowd so they were like, nobody is able to come back stage. It was just myself and I had I thought I was going to have no support from the side stage and they allowed my partner to come back with me. So it was a big hug going out for him and just kind of taking a deep breath and I think, you know, looking back my audition a little bit, I might had a little bit of nerves in there, but I mean the people you're singing in front of her just normal. I mean they're there. Are other people there are other humans. There's no reason, I look back at it, there's no reason for you to be nervous. You just need to go out there and kind of do your thing. I don't think Simon Cal is human. I don't know. He has some big poll and and these reality TV shows in the industry out in La for sure, but yeah, it it's kind of nerve racking going out there and seeing them. Like Sophia is stunning. Heidi wasn't there for my audition because she was sick and this was like the peak of Covid and everything shutting down. So they she wasn't there for the shooting but for my audition. And then Terry crews is so nice and like super pumped all the time, so he's a super cool guy. And then Simon. Yeah, I like the One person I wanted to impress with Simon, and it kind of really worked pretty well with my audition. So I'm very, very happy with how my ot come there. I definitely would say you in pressident. Now, what did you learn about yourself the most from going through that reality TV experience? The most, I would say the reality TV like definitely isn't what a lot of people would think it was just looking for Moll t looking at it from TV, you know, watching the show, you think you know, you kind of get cast in, you walk on stage and you go to audition. There's so much that goes into it. Your go through multiple auditions prior to making the actual TV part of it and kind of you know if you're you could go to audition, but you might not be broadcasted on TV, things like that. So there's so many decisions that are going on and if I had to give it kind of advice, and the one thing I learned is I would definitely stick with your guns when it comes down to who you are. So, like, if you're really feeling passionate about a song that you want to do and you feel like this is a home run, then that is something that you need to like it's just that gut feeling that you know that this is right, then that's something that you need to push for, because you have a million people trying to give their opinions as so, but especially if you're a singer, what you should be singing, and I think that, you know, if I had another chance going back to reality TV, that I would really push for what I believe in when it comes down to the audition song or in the music and stuff like that. OKAYRN, we've really seen a boom in country music singers coming out as part of the LGBTQ community. Do you think country music fans, do you think that fanbase is more progressive in their acceptance of the community, or do you think now...

...their fan base has shifted to the LGBTQ and the LGBTQ country music fan base kind of like just with like the like country music in general, with their acceptance of it? or Yes, yeah, you know, I definitely feel like we're on the right direction. We're going down the right path and I think people are noticing that. They're more comfortable with it now that it's being a little bit more accepted. But we have like a lot of work, especially in the country music industry, with that acceptance. I think we still have a long ways to go with it, but it's one of those things that I think people are finding out that they'd rather be happy with who they are and do what they love to do versus looking back ten years from now and regretting not not doing that at all, you know. So I definitely think we're on the going down the right direction with everything. I look at somebody I've been following for years named Brook Eden, who came out recently as a lesbian and you know, she has a huge support from her from like Trishi or wood and Garth Brooks and which, like means the world to me to see somebody like Garth Brooks and Trishi or would stand behind her so so sternly. So I think we're heading in the right direction. I think people just need to really open up their minds, because we're not different than any other person just because we love somebody of the same sex. I have to talk about coming out and being labeled. You know, I talk a lot about labels because I think there's pros and cons to labels and you know there's like this wow factor when people like me interview or you know glad or what have you, it's like wow, openly gay country music. You know, there's so many dichotomies going on there and it's a fun not fun, that's the wrong word. It's a very energetic kind of buzz word and topic because it is kind of unusual as we're progressing. But my question is is that's where the focus is kind of is your sexuality in terms of your career rather than career and then sexuality kind of being a part of that. What are some things about your life that you wish people in the media would start asking you or giving an opportunity to talk about that are not necessarily directly related to you are being gay. You know, I definitely understand what you're saying, like it shouldn't be like a headline of something, you know, like country music, openly gay country for music, Singer, things like that. You know, you would think we're you know, we seen country music. We're just like any other person that is straight hero. You know that, since country music, I I definitely, I definitely, you know, would love to think that, you know, within the near future, that that wouldn't be such I guess kind of deal with with headlines and things like that. It's, you know, we're human like anybody else. I don't know, that's a hard question to ask. I haven't really really thought about that too hard and deeply. When it comes down to you know, I see myself as any other person out there and it shouldn't make any any difference that we're gay or that I'm gay. But I definitely, you know, fill that you know, it shouldn't. I I want to be known as Cameron Ross, that country singer, not camera Ross, the gay country singer, because being gage shouldn't matter. I think that's always been a big deal to me and I think that was part of my coming out thought process. Is like,...

I don't want to be known as like, you know, just and like a singer. I I am a gay singer, I am a gamel. I sing country music, but, you know, it shouldn't matter. I sing country music and should have the same opportunities to make radio without that stipulation on me. Let's talk about your creative process. When writing a song, are you writing the lyrics down on a Napkin at a bar? Are you writing it out in a journal? What comes first? Is it the melody? What what's happening when you start working on a brand new song? So it's a little bit of everything either. Sometimes where I've got a melody in my head and I start like hunting it, and the second I start doing that, I know that I have to pull out my phone and start recording it. Otherwise that thought process is kind of gone like and I want to make sure that I get it down and then I can work on it from there and then I add kind of lyrics behind that once I've kind of got that melody thought through. But there's also been times where I've woken up in the middle of night and I've written down lyrics because, you know, I might have had a dream or thought of something or I'm just sitting in bed and kind of going so it just depends. I've been also in the studio where you know, something just felt right to kind of go a certain direction with lyrics once you're building out this song. So definitely different creative processes to it. But I've also sat down in a room with other writers and you kind of go in there with the focus and, you know, you kind of come in with each other's ideas and you're like, I want to write about this, I have this I to and then you just kind of hit it off from there, trying to come up with lyrics and then creating a melody on top of that or vice versa. So it's definitely multiple creative outlets with it. But if I find a good hook, I run with it and I try to get as much done as I possibly can and tell that kind of thought is out and if we get something good out of it, amazing if it's something that I have to sit down and come back to. That's also stuff I've done as well. Now you are coming to southern California October fourteen. You're making your Palm Springs Day Beeu at Oscar's Palm Springs. It's going to be an evening of music. Interview a fan Qa. Are you nervous at all? But at all about making your debut for us so Californians? I am. I've never been to palm springs. I think the closest I've been is to La or Vegas, and so I'm super excited. I've heard wonderful things about the city. So I'm a I'm a little bit nervous. I feel like before every show that I do I have a little bit of nerves out there, but it's like the second that I start seeing in and that first word comes out, all the nerves are gone and you just kind of relax and go with the flow. So I definitely am super excited. Super excited to kind of perform and then also explore the town just a little bit and and kind of really taken everything palm springs has. I mean it's amazing and I'm going to be there to show you around town. I hope we survived. I hope you'll get thrown in jail again. I'm just if we do, we'll have a good story to tell and probably a new single. That's what we'll do it do what with my jazz hands? Not Real fast. What is your process? You know the audience is going to be there and you're going to be backstage. What's happening like? What's your warm up ritual? How do you get yourself psyched up? What are you doing backstage half hour before the show? I definitely I try to warm up my voice ahead of time and right now my allergies are going crazy with this Texas weather being hot and cold, so it's very important to make...

...sure that, you know, my vocals are right where they need to be. There's a good chance that I might take a shot before I go out just to kind of release those nerves a little bit. But at the same time, you know I'm always, always, and I think my partner will back this up, I'm always one to be like you know, I just don't forget those lyrics and if I do, then we kind of make them up a little bit and we go with it and make sure that we have fun with it. But you know, it always ends up working out in the end. But I definitely try to talk myself up and hid myself up with as much as I possible we can. My main focus is to make sure that, you know, I deliver a good concert and everybody has a good time. Well, I can't wait to be there. I can't wait for your pump springs debut. Tell everybody where you want them to find you and follow you. You can follow me and find me anywhere on social media at Cameron Ross, and that's camera with the K and then link, excuse me, facebook, Instagram, I was about to save linkedin anywhere on social media. You can find me Camer Ross, Youtube, spotify, all that good stuff. Thank you. Thank you so much, and this has been my chat with Cameron Ross. You can read my indem article with him in the latest issue of Metro source, available on news stands across the nation or at Metro sourcecom. And that's our episode. I'm your host, Alexander Rodriguez, lead writer for Metro source. You can follow me at Instagram, at Alexander's on on air. Until next time, stay true and do you boo? That has been another metro source mini like share, subscribe on your favorite podcast player and check out the latest issue of Metro Sports magazine on newsstands or online at Metro sourcecom. Follow us on Facebook, instagram at natural source and on twitter at Metro course man. Until next time, Henk fast.

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