Clifton Ross III “He Never Changed His Mind”
Here at 2BReal, we are all about using our platform to celebrate great content and great artists that are Christian representers.
Clifton Ross III is an American singer who has been in ministry for over 12 years. Outside of music, he is a special events coordinator at Bryant High School and a musical director at Ebenezer AME Church where his minister of music is Ricky Dillard. We spoke to him to find out more about his name his latest music and what he has in store for 2018.
2BReal: First and foremost who is Clifton Ross Sr and Clifton Ross Jr?
Clifton Ross III: My father is Clifton Ross, Jr and my Grandfather the late Clifton Ross, Sr (he passed away in 2016 at the age of 92). They’ve been my guide, the example, my anchor and they’ve helped me discover who I am. I’ve learned so much watching and listening to them about real strength, character, leadership, posture and kindness.
I can never forget my Grandfather’s words to me: “when you walk in a room, command it…if someone asks you who is take a pause and say ‘Ross’…Clifton Ross III.” And this was a word of wisdom about confidence, not arrogance. Life is going to send you into many rooms, you may not feel equipped, you may be nervous — but if you are confident you have won half the battle.
My Father and I are very close and I appreciate and cherish our relationship. He’s taught me how to stay grateful and to be slow to judge other people — some of us are just thoughts away from a poor decision. It could all be another way. My Father believes in my dreams and he pushes me and we all need that kind of support. I honestly could go on and on…. I am so grateful for both my Father and my Grandfather; they are a part of me. And it is an honour to carry the legacy that they’ve shared with me through my name.
2BReal: Will you have your son carry the name legacy and be called Clifton Ross IV?
Clifton Ross III: Yes! Of course!
2BReal: Since releasing your EP in 2016 “I Believe God” what have you been up to?
Clifton Ross III: Since the release of my EP, my team and I have been taking every opportunity to relay the message to the music. My EP is what I’d like to call ‘journey music’. God gave me the music on my journey and He used me to share it so that you can have it on your journey. The message is simple… life happens. There are highs and lows, it can get uncomfortable and you won’t always be certain about the next step.
We can’t always choose what happens to us but we can choose our posture. We can choose to cling to the truths that we know and even in the most difficult situations we’ve got to know that He is with us. He never changed his mind. There is strength in our voice which is why we’ve got to shout aloud and sometimes the best thing to do is pause and surrender.
A family from my church stopped me one Sunday and the mother told me that she’d wanted a promotion on her job and she started playing my single ‘I Believe God’ at work every day. Shortly after that, she got the promotion and a few months later she got another one. She said that listening to it every day encouraged her to maintain a posture of faith and expectation. And as I listened to her tell her story, I cried. This is exactly what I prayed for…
I’ve been accepting as many invitations as I can so that I can have the opportunity to encourage people to find peace, get recharged and get back on their life’s assignment. We’ve been sowing seeds and celebrating the stories, like the one from the family at my church and listening to what’s next.
2BReal: How important has it been for you to implement a plan of strategy when readying to release new music?
Clifton Ross III: It’s critical! A plan of strategy is necessary for any move you make in life. It’s always good to have a projected end goal and small short-term goals that lead to the end goal. There are so many things to consider when releasing music; the timing, branding, momentum; there is so much to it. A strategy is what brings everything together. You also need a great team to both develop the strategy and execute. And you need to have a plan b and c, flexibility is key. It won’t always go according to the strategy.
2BReal: Will you be debuting new music soon? If so will it be an album and what can we expect?
Clifton Ross III: Yes! New music is coming! You can expect music that you can listen to daily that strengthens you, lifts you and challenges you to stay on your assignment. And we’re still spreading the word nationally and internationally about my 2nd single ‘I Believe God’. It’s available NOW on all digital platforms and it is streaming on your favourite streaming outlets: Apple music, Spotify, Tidal, and more!
2BReal: How would you describe your BET Sunday Best experience?
Clifton Ross III: Both experiences (season 2 and seasons 8 – the All-Star season) were very different; I was in a different place in my life. But both times, it was a master class and it changed my life. It was the most pressure that I’d ever experienced and I had to learn to balance my nerves, my fears and my peace. I learned how to take criticism, apply what I needed and then get back in the zone to complete the competition. And I gained a family, quite a few of us from the Sunday Best seasons keep in touch and support one another. Sunday Best was what I needed.
2BReal: Since Sunday Best how has the show impacted your ministry, artistry and outlook on music?
Clifton Ross III: Sunday Best pushed me in ways that I didn’t know I needed to be pushed. Immediately, whether you’re ready or not you’re in the homes of people all over the world and you have to deal with everything that comes with it. The connection with people is priceless, to be honest. People are still walking up to me now, years later, saying ‘I voted for you!’. And that ‘I voted for you’ turns into supporters who may invest in the music and they will show up and support you at live events.
As an artist, the show helped me to be more confident in my sound and my message and I had to study the art of crafting a presentation. Every song is different and it requires a different method of delivery. It’s one thing to hear that concept and it’s another thing to have to apply it and actually prepare your song for 3-minute segments on a television show.
Every aspect of my ministry, my approach to artistry and my music has been shaped in some way by taking the Sunday Best stage. The opportunity to stand on the Sunday Best platform is like a ‘gift that keeps giving’ and it blessed me in so many ways. I will always be grateful to the entire team (the production team, the judges, the mentors, the stylists, everybody!) that helped launch the BET Sunday Best family in the world.
Privately, my prayer to God was that people who watched the show would hear/feel my heart and win or not, that was my goal. God went above and beyond this….
2BReal: What advice would you give to up and coming artists in all genres of Christian and Gospel music who are creating music for this generation?
Clifton Ross III:
- Fall in love with who you are
- Hone in on your God-given assignment
- Don’t be afraid of writing music based on your journey/your experience with God.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Work with a team that you trust.
- Be mindful that every generation communicates differently so be very sensitive to this as you develop lyrics with the goal of reaching people. Everyone is not in the same place in their journey but something that God gives you is for that one person in the back of the room needing a word of encouragement, or a push or a hug. So show up and be present.
- Please know that it is okay to be afraid. Don’t let your fear or nerves cripple you; go for it.
- Do not let a ‘no’ discourage you. Learn from it and move on.
- Be open to criticism; it is a gift if you are open to it.
- Do not compare your gift or your assignment to others. Stay focused. Stay on your path.
- Support others!
- Find a way to encourage and celebrate someone else as often as you can.
2BReal: What are the key essentials when it comes to handling your music in business?
Clifton Ross III: (This isn’t in any order).
– Be kind. Always.
– Keep your heart/ears open to hear from God.
– Tough skin
– Confidence in your gift and your message
– A solid team that you can trust
– Do your own research. Study the business (and not just your genre).
– Keep your peace
2BReal: What is your favourite scripture that gives you comfort, confidence, and composure?
Clifton Ross III: Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Life takes us through so many twists and turns, so many chapters and seasons, this scripture not only keeps me anchored but it reminds me that it works out in my favour. #HeNeverChangedHisMind. And in order for all things to work together, all things have to happen.