Gearing up for a performance at Stettler’s Entertainment in the Park on July 24th, Calgary-based roots/blues singer Erin Ross can hardly recall a time when she wasn’t passionate about performing.
“I’ve been playing the guitar since I was about eight,” she explained during a recent chat.
“My mom was a guitar player, and there was lots of music in my house growing up. We had a piano and other instruments around, so it was always a part of what was going on.
“My dad is a big music fan, too. It definitely all had an impact on me when I was young,” she said, adding that she asked for her first guitar when she was just three years old. “So I’ve had an interest in the guitar for a long time.
“From there, I began to play and to write songs, and then there was some performing when I was in my teens.”
In those days, she relished the sounds of classic rock.
“I was into the idea of being in rock bands – that sort of thing,” she recalled. Ross would ultimately go on to earn a degree in English from the University of Calgary after she graduated from high school, so music wasn’t absolutely front and centre in terms of a ‘career path vision’ at that point.
Today, however, music is her full-time work as she and her husband run the Calgary-based Avenue Music.
“It’s nice in that you keep your finger on the pulse of the ‘mechanics’ of it,” she explained of how teaching guitar helps to enhance her own artistic expression.
“In teaching guitar and other instruments, I feel like I am always kind of re-adjusting the basics. But also in teaching through your whole day, sometimes the last thing you feel like doing is coming home and working on your own music,” she added with a laugh.
“It does extend the work day, so yes, it has its advantages and disadvantages. But overall, I would say that teaching has made me a better player because it forces me to learn new things and to learn new styles and help other people gain proficiency. So it’s definitely pushed my skill levels.”
And although she has a exceptionally compelling voice, she explained that singing was never really the driving motivation.
“It’s a big part of what I do because someone has to be the singer,” he chuckled.
All kidding aside, however, Ross is a talented vocalist who can match her style to whatever the music may demand.
In the meantime, as mentioned, Ross is indeed an accomplished musician who transcends any one genre.
As her bio puts it, “Her soulful original compositions blend masterful guitar work, sultry vocals and showcase her skill as a multi instrumentalist. Rooted in blues, rock, country and jazz, she offers something for every crowd.”
She also loves sharing her music. “You do it for your own enjoyment as well, but at a certain points it’s about getting your songs heard and sharing them with others – getting people up dancing or tapping their toes.”
For Ross, it’s been a fascinating journey.
“I feel that music is an endless interest,” she observed. “When you really commit yourself to learning an instrument – the more you learn, the more you have left to learn. I think some people may feel that is a detractor, but that’s what keeps me interested and motivated. I’m always chasing something new.
“You learn a really hard song, and you gain some skills from that – and you go on to the next thing. It’s a curiosity about what is left to learn that keeps me moving forward.”