Music

Kameron Ross is AGT’s Country Gent Who Has Nothing to Hide

Country music singer Kameron Ross made an immediate impression as he stepped on the stage of America’s Got Talent. While many television viewers may have been taken with Kameron’s chiseled jawline or Texas tight jeans, Simon Cowell was taken with his voice. Cowell asked Kameron to stop mid audition and sing acapella … to which he did, quickly becoming a fan cherished AGT sweetheart. The road to America’s Got Talent wasn’t easy.

Y’all I’ve been at the auditions for some time now. Since I was 16, I auditioned for Nashville Star, American Idol, X-Factor, The Voice, and America’s Got Talent. Three or four years before me getting cast for AGT I made it to a call-back audition for them. They tell you that if they want to move forward with you then you’ll hear from them, but if you didn’t hear from them then you were not chosen. So, after my call back audition, I thought it went so well I sat by my phone anxiously. Checking my email every second hoping I would hear from them. Well, I didn’t. The next year I was asked to send in an audition video, and I said no. I was tired of getting my hopes up after so many years of getting no, no, no. Then the year I got cast I went through a lot of family situations with multiple family members getting cancer and multiple family members passing away over a course of a couple of years. Going through that you realize life is way too short not to go for your dream and do what makes you happy. So, I auditioned again for AGT and tried chasing that big dream one time again. I remember getting the call right before Christmas saying that I’ve made the show! Hanging up I went through so many emotions. I yelled with excitement, hugged my partner, smiled so big, and busted into the happiest tears.

TV audiences and social media instantly responded to his debut episode. Besides his voice, what was his winning factor?

As you could tell from my audition, my mama raised me well! Always answering yes/no sir/ma’am. Always respect everyone and treat them like you would like to be treated. I think that was clearly displayed on my AGT audition with me saying “yes, sir” to Simon, and him correcting me a handful or more times to call him Simon. Then following up with “we’re friends now” so I can call him by Simon. [laughs] Also, seeing that I’m human. I’m passionate about my music and my dreams.

Because of COVID, Kameron would perform for the judges in an empty theatre. Without the energy of a live audience, he had to command the room isolated on stage. This wouldn’t be the first time Kameron had felt isolated in his career. He started singing at the age of eight, after being inspired by attending his first live concert with the diva herself, Shania Twain. He would go on to perform at local country music concerts, put out his first album, and open for The Band Perry and Miranda Lambert. It was around that time that his sexuality was beginning to form. Once he came out, the phone stopped ringing. An industry that had once embraced him and his Texas-style had left him isolated and alone.

I would be lying if I said that taking a step back from my music career didn’t affect me. There were countless nights where I thought I just threw everything away that I had worked so hard for. However, at that moment I and my happiness were most important to me. I didn’t want to have to deal with the acceptance of me coming out to everyone and then also have the pressure of the country music industry making me feel like I shouldn’t come out or that I was going to be shunned from the industry for being gay. In those moments my mental health and happiness were what’s most important. 

I do not regret coming out at all. Truthfully, I have had my moments thinking how things would have been if I wouldn’t have come out to everyone or was just closeted. Then I quickly bounce back to thinking that’s not the life I wanted or want to live.

To make matters more intense, his personal coming out had its own complications.

It’s long and kind of sad. I lost my country music career. Lost a lot of friendships. My mom took it very hard, and I lost contact with her for a bit. But at the end of the day, we found each other, and we love each other so much. She has been keeping grandbabies (both of my dogs) while my partner and I have been traveling. I am glad to have her and my family in my corner when I need them.

Despite the struggles with his career and family, his love of everything Texas and country music is unwavering.

I could go on and on about all the things I love about Texas and being a Texan. I love that we can’t make it through one sentence without saying the word “y’all” or dropping a “g” off the end of the word when you say something like “how y’all doin?” That’s a very Texan thing to do. I absolutely LOVE the countryside of Texas. I know most people probably say this about their state but by golly, it’s beautiful out here! I grew up spending time and working on a ranch. I had a job as a ranch hand and outside of music that’s probably one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. I have a big dream of owning my own ranch out towards Del Rio or San Angelo, Texas. When I tell y’all it’s simply breathtaking out there, I mean it! Also, this is about to sound super Texan of me, but when you’re on the road all the time you LOVE a good Buc-ee’s! It’s like a gas station/store/food place heaven. The food is amazing, there are always cool things to buy, the beaver nuggets are something you’ll get hooked on, and the restrooms are always super clean, LOL. 

And country music? I think it’s the way every country music song tells a story. Some songs can move me to tears every single time I hear them, and I think that’s special. In other genres, I will find music that I love and can move dance to. But there is something about the storytelling in country music that is just amazing.

The country music industry has experienced a boom in out gay musicians. TJ Osborne of the Osborne Brothers is the latest to come out with Lil Nas X, Ty Herndon, Brandi Carlile, and Brandy Clark, among others, representing our community. Has homophobia in country music changed?

I would say there is less homophobia nowadays than there was 5 or 10 years ago. However, when you start to think about it more, how many gay country music artists are being played on mainstream radio, nominated or winning award shows like the Academy of Country Music Awards? There really are not many if any at all. We’ve still got work to do but I’m up for the challenge. I’m ready for my ACM award, CMT award, Grammy, and more!

Beyond Shania, his other musical inspirations run the gamut.

One of my all-time favorites is Dolly Parton. She is Dolly and does not give a rip what everyone thinks about her. She’s a huge LGBTQ community supporter and she just reminds me of my grandma. When it comes to my different music styles, I’ve been influenced by artists like Hank Williams and Keith Whitley. Having that old-school soulful sound at times. The older I’ve gotten I’ve been influenced by some newer artists like Lizzo. Lizzo being her true authentic self. Expressing and embarrassing herself in every way possible. Posting whatever she wants on social media. Also H.E.R., you want to talk about one heck of a talented artist … my goodness! From her lyrics to her voice, to her looks is just amazing. I also am influenced by my heritage, being part Mexican. I love reggaeton and Spanish music. I don’t speak Spanish and might not know what is being said, but I love it! 

Kameron has capitalized on his natural good looks and hours in the gym by incorporating skin into his social media and music covers. He isn’t afraid of his sexual appeal overshadowing his music.

Attractive men are all over the internet and around every corner. I don’t mind showing some skin or posting a gym selfie because I know that people that love my music are going to love it whether I play in a turtleneck, shirtless, or an open vest. 

Kameron has also been very open about his relationship. For the last two years, he has been dating another hottie from reality TV, Netflix’s Sugar Rush baker Lio Botello.

We met through my good Judy, Alyssa Edwards! I am so grateful for that! She had a Labor Day pool party that we were both at. There were a lot of people, and I never really got the chance to connect with him. A few weeks later we were both out again, I was with Alyssa, and she screamed his name when she saw him going into the same club we were in. She introduced us again after she noticed me noticing him. I laid eyes on him that night and haven’t stopped since. 

As social media proves time and time again, being revealing about your relationships can sometimes have a detrimental effect. Did Ross have any trepidation about sharing that aspect of his life?

I’ve had people tell me from the industry and from reality TV that displaying my relationship on social media could have a negative effect on my career. That I should “want to appeal to as many people as I can” – I don’t agree. They also think I should worry about the thirsty people that would try to come after my man after linking over to him from me. However, I have a very healthy and great relationship with my partner. I have no reason or desire to want to hide my relationship. He is my biggest supporter, and I am his. We balance each other in a way that most wouldn’t understand. You find someone that has the same dreams and drive that you do. We encourage each other every day to be the best version of ourselves. Some nights we spend hours and hours working on my music, some nights I am washing dishes after his baking. We have dreams and we are willing to put in all the work to make them a reality. 

Kameron has big plans post-COVID. His live performances are starting to book up, including a California live performance debut at Oscar’s in Palm Springs, and he is hitting the market with remix versions of his music.

 

I absolutely love country music, but my musical interests are not limited to country. I love EDM, pop, reggaeton/Latin music, R&B, and so much more. Why limit myself to just country? Why not explore other genres but keep my country roots? We are human and we evolve. Much like that, so does our music. For example, Kacey Musgraves’ new music keeps her country roots but has some pop, Latin, and more influences.

His dreams for the future are unabashedly country.

I hope I own a ranch with my partner, we have all my albums displayed to remind me of the hard work we put in. If there is a cow involved, I would love to own a calf, a Red Braham to be exact. 

And his wish for the LGBTQ community is gentlemanly.

I want every single one of us to feel loved and accepted. That feels like it should be simple and not be this big wish, but we have so much work to do to get them there. I am ready for it though!

You can find everything Kameron Ross at KameronRoss.com

Performance Alert: If you are in Palm Springs, Kameron will be performing on the outdoor stage at Oscar’s Downtown Palm Springs on October 15th. Visit www.oscarspalmsprings.com for tickets!

Featured Photo: Elena Bayda

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Alexander Rodriguez

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