At fifteen Ross Ellis started the band “Wayside” with his cousin and some high school friends. The band gained a strong following through Ellis’ college years playing venues across Louisiana and Mississippi. After graduating from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, he turned down multiple job offers to move to Nashville. After less than a year of working part time jobs, evening writing, and playing writer’s rounds, Ellis caught the attention of BMI’s Bradley Collins. Soon after, he signed to Big Deal Music Group.
Ross, what’s it like being at Stagecoach?
I’ve never been anywhere like this in my life — I expected a lot of people — it’s huge. It’s beautiful, walking around the grounds, and the drinking’s fun. I got my management and publishers and stuff here, and saw some of the guys from the Academy of Country Music.
Biggest blessing. When I moved to Nashville, I wanted to do the artist stuff, but fell in love with songwriting. Thought maybe one day I’ll get back on the road. But when “Home For The Weekend” was a Highway Find, I got back out there, alright cool — maybe I can do this. It’s been the biggest push for me artistically, having them believe in me. It was pretty awesome. We wrote that song about an ex-girlfriend who I dated for 7 years, who had moved to Nashville with me, but it didn’t work out. We wanted to the song to one that people who lost someone can connect to.
Ellis’ follow-up single was “Ghosts.” The hauntingly soulful tune is one of The Highway’s top 10 most-played songs. Ellis remarked, “so that’s so special — Ghosts is one who died, but you all have so many ghosts in your past.”
His latest, “Barefoot Dancer,” is, according to the singer, about another girlfriend. The ex he wrote about in Ghosts and the girl he writes about in this song were at a wedding together. The girl he went to the wedding with felt uncomfortable — seeing his ex. Ellis watched her dance in her black dress, not catching the bouquet or anything. He said, “You look back and see all these girls who don’t know if they will have that day. I wrote this to tell the story of ones that kind of get left out.”
Ellis has bridged the gap from song writer to singer. The evolution was, according to Ellis, “more, I guess, about trying to make the songs that I had been writing connect with people. After you go through the intimate process, like I did writing “Ghosts,” I wasn’t going to let anybody else have it. That was my story and what I wanted to say. It is the foundation of who I am. What’s inside you, came from nothing, has an impact on people. It’s such a bond with cowriters, make that bond with people out there too.”
A most definite bond was formed between songwriters Ellis, Ben Goldsmith, and Ben Stennis — with the release of their song, “Neon Church,” by Tim McGraw. Ellis and McGraw are both from Louisiana, Monterey and Start. They went to the same college — University of Louisiana at Monroe. This song is Ellis’ first big cut.
Being a southern rock dude, Ellis is a fan of, and would love to do a duet with, Oklahoma/Tennessee based Kings of Leon. Now that he lives in Nashville, he works hard to not take anything for granted — including writing with Angelo Petraglia, the producer for Kings of Leon.
What is something Ellis’ wishes people would ask him in an interview?
“For people to know that I couldn’t do anything else. I mean this — I love what I do. I want people to know that it’s possible. Not that I’ve made ‘it’ huge but I do think I will eventually. I come from a small town people, and dreams are real and you should chase them. And how important my publisher, my best friends, and my band are to me. People flew across the country for my 30 minutes.”
This is from the singer who circles his band around him before every show and leads them in the singing of the Lord’s Prayer.
So what does Ellis want people to take away from his music?
For fans “to keep listening. A new single is coming out in the next for month for Sirius XM. It will be another girlfriend song.”