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, theofficial podcast to Metro source magazine and home of short form interviews with your favoritepersonalities from the lgbtq world and beyond. Quick, Fun and informative. It'smetro source on the go, out in proud since one thousand nine hundred andninety. Well, hello, hello, hello, this is metro source minis. I'm your host, Alexander Rodriguez, lead writer for Metro source and avidpodcaster. Can you imagine being on America's got talent singing and then Simon Cowellsays stop? I cannot even imagine. That's exactly what happened to our gueston this episode of Metro Source Minis. But what could have been a momentof disaster was actually a moment of triumph, as singer Songwriter camer Ross continued hisaudition, singing Acapella, wowing every single one of those judges. CameronRoss started his country music journey at the age of Eight, when his parentstook come to see his first concert, the amazing Chania Twain. Yes,Carl and that experience changed his whole entire life. He knew right away thatthat's the music or that's the industry that he wanted to get into, andso he soon began singing for local country musics rodeos that really allowed budding countryartist to make a name for themselves, and in two thousand and six heput out his first album, produced by TJ shepherd and Kelly Lang, calledwhen 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 inthe country music fest in Houston, opening for the Band Perry, Randa,Lambert and many more. And around that same time he started to become morein tune to his sexuality, sow we shall we say, and that kindof 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 streamingeverywhere, by the way, including remixes of hits, of his hits.Please welcome Mr Cameron Ross. Hello, hello, hello, Howdy, howyou doing? If you hate it, like every interview they have that liketip 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 thatI am very fond of. So if I could use y'all probably every otherevery other word, I probably would. So now I've had the joy ofseeing some of your very early footage. We're talking young Cameron, that someof 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 notso 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 mymanager, so a lot of the stuff that you know would happen with mymusic, my mom had a big influence on, you know kind of whatshe felt was the right direction to go with things, and she's also atthe same time, you know some of the risk that you might have takenif you were you know, if I was a little bit older, mighthave not been taken when I was younger, because my mom is always got momhad on first and foremost, and so you know there's some things thatyou 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 atthe same time, you know, she always had my best interest with itand getting it out of young age. I also feel like you don't havea good understanding for who you are and...

...kind of what the Path is thatyou want to go on. And as you get older your music matures,your voice matures, things like that. So I was very fortunate to havea mature voice at think I like thirteen years old. I was singing songsby like Josh Turner. So I had a deeper voice at a very youngage. But you know, it's one of those things that I'm very gratefulat the same time for getting the experiences I was younger to help me buildas 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 aswell. When I was in the theater world. You know, it hasits 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 familymember because it's definitely mixing business and pleasure and then the roles kind of kindof 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, wherethey 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 sisterand a younger sister and my younger sister played club volleyball. I don't knowhow my mom did it. If, like I was her age at whenshe was doing this, I don't know if I'd be able to do itand spread myself that then she would try to make every volleyball game she possiblycan make for both of my sisters and then, you know, make surethat she was supporting us in every way that she possibly could. But itdefinitely a lot of weekends were spent on me traveling two different towns, likesmall 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 getme 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 intheir shoes with kids, but able to understand what it is that they haveto juggle their job plus all their spare time for themselves and not getting anyof that because they're focusing on, you know, our dreams and trying tomake 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 olderand as a kid you'd never believe that and it's always like the worst stayingin 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 kindof conception of what a young gay kid looks like. You know,what are some of the mannerisms? What are the some stereotypes right and alot of times a stereotype is failed. But I have to say, inlooking at your early footage, it was so country, not anything that Iwould like pinpoint there like, oh, he's going to come out someday.So how, in this environment, did you start to come into tune withyour sexuality? When did you first kind of realize it wasn't like the otherboy 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 whenI 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 boythat, you know, dad was taken everywhere doing all the all the manlystuff, and I, you know, wore cowboy boots, I wore thethe stereotypical like wrangler, cowboy cowboy boots, the wranglers, the cowboy hat.The only thing that was a little bit different as I had very longhair, 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'ssay, for example, once I got to high school, I didn't knowit was gay. I remember I got picked on being called gay all ofthe time, but it wasn't something that I necessarily knew because I had agirlfriend, you know, and all that stuff, and I was interested indating girls and and I remember one day specifically that I had. It wasthree 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 forthand 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 atgirl, and so she like she is one that can intimidate somebody atthat point in time, and so I remember her kind of getting me outof that situation and me not knowing what to think because all like, youknow, 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 untilI 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 definitelywas one of those things that I don't want to say I fought, butat the same time I did fight, because, you know, you hearabout like people not being accepted being gay, things like that, and so Ithink I had a fear of that at the same time, and soit definitely was hard, especially, you know, growing up a little bitmore country and a bigger city, to do that. But, like now, looking at that, I wish, you know, I would have cameto terms of stuff and accepted it a little bit more sooner and kind ofdefended 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 industryat Larne? So my my mom took it a little bit hard. Ikind 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, ranoff and I kind of disappeared for a little bit and my mom, onceI kind of told her, took it very hard. You know, shejust didn't understand that you know why I've kind of choosing this path and itwas one of those things that at that point in time, like I knewkind of once I came out to her, that you know, I was gay. You know, it's just who I am, and so I kindof gave her a little bit of an ultimatum and, you know, toldher it was kind of a this is. I can't change this and you eitherwant me in your life or it's something that you know, if wecan't see each other as much just because we don't see I'd eye on thissituation that maybe it's something that we need to take a break from, andshe took a little bit of you know, her kind of trying to open hermind and accepted and now my mom is asking me now that I'm datingmy partner Leoh, okay, when are Y'all getting age? When is thishappening? So she's like completely comfortable with me being gay and extremely proud ofit. My whole family, is my sister's you know, they didn't badand eye when I told them. My Dad was probably really cool, likeprobably one of the coolest you know dad situations with it. He wasn't likeokay, like you know, this is a no, we're gonna disown youor 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 andthen with music coming out, you know, it's one of those things that Iwas 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 tobook me asn't booking me anymore, kind of things. And after someyears, you know, after some time, I stopped kind of posting about herway I'm I kind of withdrew that a little bit and try to focuson 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 WHOI am. I think music is a dream that I've been after forever andit's not something I want to quit on following. So I've just kind ofreally tried to become an advocate, to push who I am as a personbut at the same time do everything that I would have done knowing that youknow, 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'rein the country music circuit, you're single. If I could go back, reallycelebrates it's a love song to to the hometown life, to the actualhometown that that you grew up. And from my Super Gay perspective, I'mlike, if that kind of environment had shunned me in any way, Iwould be like buy girl, I'm going to La. This is an environmentthat 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 knowyou're still kind of in it, so to speak. Yeah, I youknow, I went off to college in a small town and Texas and soa very college town and very, very country, and so that was Iwas allowed to kind of express myself a little bit more there. But youknow, I didn't. I guess the unknown of going to a different placeand completely leaving everything by Hind is what kind of kept me here at thatmoment. And you know, when I came out, just not you know, pack my bag and leave in town. But you know, I completely adoremy family. My family is amazing, so not having them there would havebeen rough and having their support. But at the same time, youknow, I got away and moved around all over Texas at the same timeto really figure out some things for myself. Okay, let's talk about America's gottalent. I remember when you hit the scene. It was during covidyou know, this Texas boy here, you know, filming in La andand all the lights and the cameras and the action and all this. Whatwas going through your mind minutes before stepping on stage? And how did theyprepare you for your audition? So you, you kind of talk with when itcomes 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 runningthrough a million songs to get like the right song that's good for them butalso good for yourself, and kind of sit through tons of songs until youkind of hit that one that hits right for everyone. And then that's kindof where we go. And then when you get to start, when youwhen I got to La, you kind of go into this holding room whereyou just sit. It's a lot of weight, weight, weight, go, go, go, and so you would do all your interviews, allkind 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'dhave a rehearsal if you're a singer or a musician, and then kind ofrun through that kind of stuff, and then when it came down to thetime of the actual audition, I think I was the I for sure wasthe last person on stage when it came down to the filming, and thenI I think I was like the second or third to last personal audition forthe entire season. So leading up to that, you just I am wassuper nervous when I kind of came out and my partner Ly always with meand so, you know, I it was very unsure because my whole familywas there and they got rid of the crowd so they were like, nobodyis able to come back stage. It was just myself and I had Ithought I was going to have no support from the side stage and they allowedmy partner to come back with me. So it was a big hug goingout 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 alittle bit of nerves in there, but I mean the people you're singing infront of her just normal. I mean they're there. Are other people thereare other humans. There's no reason, I look back at it, there'sno reason for you to be nervous. You just need to go out thereand 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 showsin the industry out in La for sure, but yeah, it it's kind ofnerve 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 thepeak of Covid and everything shutting down. So they she wasn't there for theshooting but for my audition. And then Terry crews is so nice and likesuper pumped all the time, so he's a super cool guy. And thenSimon. 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'mvery, very happy with how my ot come there. I definitely would sayyou in pressident. Now, what did you learn about yourself the most fromgoing through that reality TV experience? The most, I would say the realityTV like definitely isn't what a lot of people would think it was just lookingfor Moll t looking at it from TV, you know, watching the show,you think you know, you kind of get cast in, you walkon 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 itand kind of you know if you're you could go to audition, but youmight not be broadcasted on TV, things like that. So there's so manydecisions 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 gunswhen it comes down to who you are. So, like, if you're reallyfeeling passionate about a song that you want to do and you feel likethis is a home run, then that is something that you need to likeit's just that gut feeling that you know that this is right, then that'ssomething that you need to push for, because you have a million people tryingto give their opinions as so, but especially if you're a singer, whatyou should be singing, and I think that, you know, if Ihad another chance going back to reality TV, that I would really push for whatI believe in when it comes down to the audition song or in themusic and stuff like that. OKAYRN, we've really seen a boom in countrymusic singers coming out as part of the LGBTQ community. Do you think countrymusic fans, do you think that fanbase is more progressive in their acceptance ofthe community, or do you think now...

...their fan base has shifted to theLGBTQ and the LGBTQ country music fan base kind of like just with like thelike 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'remore comfortable with it now that it's being a little bit more accepted. Butwe 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 withit, but it's one of those things that I think people are finding outthat they'd rather be happy with who they are and do what they love todo versus looking back ten years from now and regretting not not doing that atall, you know. So I definitely think we're on the going down theright direction with everything. I look at somebody I've been following for years namedBrook Eden, who came out recently as a lesbian and you know, shehas a huge support from her from like Trishi or wood and Garth Brooks andwhich, like means the world to me to see somebody like Garth Brooks andTrishi or would stand behind her so so sternly. So I think we're headingin the right direction. I think people just need to really open up theirminds, because we're not different than any other person just because we love somebodyof 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 prosand cons to labels and you know there's like this wow factor when people likeme 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 thereand it's a fun not fun, that's the wrong word. It's a veryenergetic kind of buzz word and topic because it is kind of unusual as we'reprogressing. But my question is is that's where the focus is kind of isyour sexuality in terms of your career rather than career and then sexuality kind ofbeing a part of that. What are some things about your life that youwish people in the media would start asking you or giving an opportunity to talkabout 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 headlineof something, you know, like country music, openly gay country for music, Singer, things like that. You know, you would think we're youknow, we seen country music. We're just like any other person that isstraight 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 dealwith with headlines and things like that. It's, you know, we're humanlike 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 comesdown to you know, I see myself as any other person out there andit shouldn't make any any difference that we're gay or that I'm gay. ButI definitely, you know, fill that you know, it shouldn't. II want to be known as Cameron Ross, that country singer, not camera Ross, the gay country singer, because being gage shouldn't matter. I thinkthat's always been a big deal to me and I think that was part ofmy coming out thought process. Is like,...

I don't want to be known aslike, you know, just and like a singer. I I ama gay singer, I am a gamel. I sing country music, but,you know, it shouldn't matter. I sing country music and should havethe same opportunities to make radio without that stipulation on me. Let's talk aboutyour creative process. When writing a song, are you writing the lyrics down ona Napkin at a bar? Are you writing it out in a journal? What comes first? Is it the melody? What what's happening when youstart working on a brand new song? So it's a little bit of everythingeither. Sometimes where I've got a melody in my head and I start likehunting it, and the second I start doing that, I know that Ihave to pull out my phone and start recording it. Otherwise that thought processis kind of gone like and I want to make sure that I get itdown and then I can work on it from there and then I add kindof lyrics behind that once I've kind of got that melody thought through. Butthere's also been times where I've woken up in the middle of night and I'vewritten down lyrics because, you know, I might have had a dream orthought of something or I'm just sitting in bed and kind of going so itjust depends. I've been also in the studio where you know, something justfelt right to kind of go a certain direction with lyrics once you're building outthis song. So definitely different creative processes to it. But I've also satdown in a room with other writers and you kind of go in there withthe focus and, you know, you kind of come in with each other'sideas and you're like, I want to write about this, I have thisI to and then you just kind of hit it off from there, tryingto come up with lyrics and then creating a melody on top of that orvice versa. So it's definitely multiple creative outlets with it. But if Ifind a good hook, I run with it and I try to get asmuch done as I possibly can and tell that kind of thought is out andif we get something good out of it, amazing if it's something that I haveto 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 yourPalm Springs Day Beeu at Oscar's Palm Springs. It's going to be an evening ofmusic. Interview a fan Qa. Are you nervous at all? Butat all about making your debut for us so Californians? I am. I'venever been to palm springs. I think the closest I've been is to Laor 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 beforeevery 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 comesout, all the nerves are gone and you just kind of relax and gowith the flow. So I definitely am super excited. Super excited to kindof perform and then also explore the town just a little bit and and kindof really taken everything palm springs has. I mean it's amazing and I'm goingto be there to show you around town. I hope we survived. I hopeyou'll get thrown in jail again. I'm just if we do, we'llhave a good story to tell and probably a new single. That's what we'lldo it do what with my jazz hands? Not Real fast. What is yourprocess? You know the audience is going to be there and you're goingto be backstage. What's happening like? What's your warm up ritual? Howdo you get yourself psyched up? What are you doing backstage half hour beforethe show? I definitely I try to warm up my voice ahead of timeand right now my allergies are going crazy with this Texas weather being hot andcold, so it's very important to make...

...sure that, you know, myvocals are right where they need to be. There's a good chance that I mighttake a shot before I go out just to kind of release those nervesa 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 oneto be like you know, I just don't forget those lyrics and if Ido, then we kind of make them up a little bit and we gowith 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 tryto talk myself up and hid myself up with as much as I possible wecan. My main focus is to make sure that, you know, Ideliver a good concert and everybody has a good time. Well, I can'twait to be there. I can't wait for your pump springs debut. Telleverybody where you want them to find you and follow you. You can followme and find me anywhere on social media at Cameron Ross, and that's camerawith the K and then link, excuse me, facebook, Instagram, Iwas about to save linkedin anywhere on social media. You can find me CamerRoss, Youtube, spotify, all that good stuff. Thank you. Thankyou so much, and this has been my chat with Cameron Ross. Youcan 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 ourepisode. I'm your host, Alexander Rodriguez, lead writer for Metro source. Youcan follow me at Instagram, at Alexander's on on air. Until nexttime, stay true and do you boo? That has been another metro source minilike share, subscribe on your favorite podcast player and check out the latestissue of Metro Sports magazine on newsstands or online at Metro sourcecom. Follow uson Facebook, instagram at natural source and on twitter at Metro course man.Until next time, Henk fast.

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