As a young teenager, Gabrielle Ross found herself onstage at the Apollo, knocking the audience dead at the theater's famed Amateur Night competition. With her stunning vocal delivery and commanding stage presence, she went on to win every round that year, taking home the coveted championship and, in the process, launching a career that would take her from working in her father's bagel shop in Long Island and singing at weddings on the weekends to a seemingly endless string of highlights: touring around the world with artists like Tyler Hilton, and Kate Voegele; being profiled by the New York Times; having her recording of "Don’t You Worry Child" posted by Swedish House Mafia as their Cover Of The Day, opening the door to collaborations with prominent European DJs and producers; singing onstage with Patti Labelle in front of thousands; performing at New York's iconic Carnegie Hall; and now, preparing to release her newest EP, 'Things Are Gonna Change,' featuring collaborations with platinum R&B star Jeremih, and producer Hit-Boy.
Even as a child, it was clear to Ross that she belonged on the stage.
"I actually started performing when I was younger because I was extremely shy, and I couldn’t find my place," says Ross, who grew up listening to everything from Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey to Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel. "I wasn't comfortable in my own skin, but onstage, I lost all my insecurities."
That confidence shines through on 'Things Are Gonna Change,' an emotional, infectious collection of pop gems. Produced by some extraordinary talent including Jeff Gitty (Bruno Mars, J Cole,) Deputy (Rihanna,) Hit-Boy (Jay-Z, Kanye West,) and Kmack (Beyonce, Missy Elliot,) the EP alternates between sexy swagger and intimate vulnerability, all part of Ross's ongoing mission to share a positive message of unconditional acceptance, love, unity, and self-confidence with her audience.
"Unfortunately, there's so much cruelty and bullying that goes on in this world, and I would love to inspire young men and women to believe in themselves and stop comparing themselves to others," says Ross. "That’s something I can really relate to and that I really try to convey in my music."
Her recent release "Love Is Love" is an equality anthem that does just that. Inspired in part by her friends' same-sex marriage, Ross draws on her own experiences to explore the ways we find fulfillment in relationships of all kinds.
"Love is what it is, and you cant fight it or force it," she explains. "Love is not perfect, but it doesn’t have to be. It's different to everybody, but at the end of the day, love is love."
On "#MCM," (produced by YOBO) Ross is joined by Jeremih, whose distinctive vocals complement hers over a sultry, dance-floor-ready rhythm section, while "Crazy Glue" takes a more contemplative approach, as she tells herself "I'm gonna find my light at the end of this long dark road."
"I started writing this project when I was in a dark place and being able to really come out of that experience and grow to find this beautiful, positive place I'm in now," Ross explains "...makes me see that no matter how terrible things may seem or feel in the moment, there's always a light at the end of the tunnel."
Ross strips things down on "Things Are Gonna Change," an acoustic ballad that tugs at the heartstrings, and "Now," which she finished writing on tour in the UK and quickly became one of the most powerful moments of her live set.
"Everybody was like, 'Oh my God that song made me cry', and they wanted to tell me their personal story and how this song was helping them through their struggles, which was amazing to me," says Ross.
Amazing, perhaps, but not surprising from an artist who's chosen to use her unique ability to forge deep, personal connections with her audience to bring joy and positivity into their lives every time she gets onstage. With the release of her new EP, Ross's audience is about to get a whole lot bigger, but that just means a whole lot more love and light to share with the world. Things are gonna change, indeed.