Authority Magazine: Meet Nashville's Rising Star Ross Flora
Meet Nashville’s Rising Stars: Ross Flora
An Interview With Edward Sylvan
One lesson that definitely sticks out in my mind is when Doug Gross told me that as a professional musician I had to put my musical biases aside and appreciate/understand the art of every song, regardless of genre or performer. To that point, one thing I’ve realized since moving to this town is that every musician has their own stamp or fingerprint. Even beginners have a unique sound that is their own and only they can create. Understanding that individual niche that you can do better than anyone else on the planet is crucial to me.
Asa part of our series about Nashville’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Ross Flora. Ross Flora is a seasoned, multifaceted singer and musician out of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Growing up just south of Roanoke, he was surrounded by strong influences in both R&B and Bluegrass. When asked what his first musical memories were, he said, “My dad would stand me up on the back of a church pew and teach me harmony parts with the congregation.” When Ross was 12, his dad came home to find him playing along to a Van Halen CD and went to sign him up for guitar lessons that day. By his teenage years, Ross began performing at various venues and festivals throughout the South Atlantic. At the age of 19, he started playing guitar and singing with “The Kings” in Roanoke, Virginia. In 2012, Ross moved from the family farm to pursue a career in Nashville, Tennessee. Once in Nashville, he was able to build a strong audience base as a solo artist and began touring full-time as a lead guitarist and vocalist, performing with acts such as “Johnny T” Band and “Smoke n’ Guns” around the nation. Ross has performed over 3,500 shows since moving to Nashville, all while writing and producing his own music. Ross’ songs emulate the tasteful guitar parts and bold emotional lyrics of the southern rock genre. His sound reflects his lifelong influences, including Gregg Allman, Duane Allman, Chris Cornell, and Ian Thornley. As an English major, he utilizes the themes of all his favorite authors, including Dickinson, Thoreau, and Whitman, in his musical writing. Ross’ music shares stories from his rural roots to life on the road.
Thank you so much for joining us in this series! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit of the ‘backstory’ of how you grew up?
Thank you for having me! I grew up in a musical household just south of Roanoke, Virginia. I began playing the piano at 7 years old and started playing guitar at 11. Some of my earliest and best memories are of singing with my family in church.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
My dad, Millard Flora, is a great musician. I was and still am incredibly lucky to have had such an influence in my life. He sat me down at around 14 years old, and we had a serious conversation about my professional future in music. We laid out an 8-year plan to cut my teeth locally and eventually move to a major music city. Nashville was always first on that list.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
This probably isn’t as interesting to anyone who isn’t a chronic gear head like myself, but over the years of buying music equipment in town, I’ve had 2 or 3 times where I’d reach out to someone anonymous on one of the for sale sites, meet up to pick up a guitar/amp, etc., and they’re an instantly recognizable, iconic musician. They’re always really inviting, and I’ve got some great stories about the gear and tips on my career from them. It’s surreal to meet and hang out for a minute with some of my heroes on that level.
Can you share with us an interesting story about living in Nashville?
There are so many to choose from. I’ve been able to meet some of my heroes just by walking down the street. I’ve been here for almost 10 years and just watching the city grow in that time has been amazing.
Can you share with us a few of the best parts of living in Nashville? We’d love to hear some specific examples or stories about that.
The best part for me is being able to see some of my favorite artists and bands perform in rooms like 3rd and Lindsley, the Listening Room, Mercy Lounge, and, obviously, the Ryman. Even the biggest stars seem to really put something extra into their performances when they’re on some of those iconic stages. The ghosts of legendary musicians in those rooms are enough to make even the best take it to another level.
A few years ago, I got to see my favorite guitarist, Derek Trucks, with Susan and the band at the Ryman for my birthday. I’ve been lucky enough to see him many times over the years with the Allman Brothers, DTB, and Tedeschi Trucks, and it’s always an other-worldly experience, but he absolutely went to another level that night. I still get chills thinking about it.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
One story that comes to mind is one of my first out-of-town gigs when I was around 17. It was my first solo show longer than 2 hours, and I wasn’t sure my voice was going to last, so I borrowed a friend’s looper pedal in case I needed to play some solos and extend the songs a little. The first time I clicked it on and put down a rhythm part, it didn’t sync correctly and sounded horrible. I couldn’t figure out how to make it stop playing and had to take a knee and figure out how to shut it off. I was beginning to panic and accidentally hit my mic stand, which swung around in front of the mains and the feedback took off. I was mixing myself and, in full panic mode at that point, accidentally grabbed the wrong fader on my board and made it ten times worse, so I basically just pulled the power plug out of the wall to make it stop. It was near the end of the show, and I had lost the entire audience.
I learned a couple of things there, like always testing your gear before taking it on stage, not letting a bad situation snowball into a terrible one by panicking and always knowing how to cut the sound without having to rip the power cord out. Haha!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Absolutely my dad. Like I said earlier, we laid out a plan together to get my career going. I like to say he always let me drive my career in whatever direction I wanted musically, but helped me avoid the potholes on the road.
I’ve had some amazing personal influences and teachers like Brian Wheeling, my uncle Jay Mullens, Freddy Lewis, Brian Holt, Josh Shilling, and Doug Gross, all of whom immensely shaped who I am and how I understand music.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Right now I have several projects in the works — one with Emilee Allan, another with Cash Crawford, and I am also building a studio with my good friends Douglas Gross and Jeremy Pearl (who are featured on bass and drums on the single).
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Again, I was blessed with a father and a musical community who prepared me for this career. They thoroughly encouraged me but also let me know that the road to success can be a long one…
One lesson that definitely sticks out in my mind is when Doug Gross told me that as a professional musician I had to put my musical biases aside and appreciate/understand the art of every song, regardless of genre or performer.
To that point, one thing I’ve realized since moving to this town is that every musician has their own stamp or fingerprint. Even beginners have a unique sound that is their own and only they can create. Understanding that individual niche that you can do better than anyone else on the planet is crucial to me.
I would also say definitely protect your ears. That has been told to me since day one, but it is still something I have to remind myself of (and forget) daily.
Another lesson that took a while to really understand was the old “know what not to play” saying when working with others. I’ve always worked best as the sole guitar player in bands because I still tend to overplay, but when that happens, I try to take a breath and re-immerse myself in the song and remember that a whole note can be as powerful as a 64th.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
That’s a major issue, especially when you’re dealing with the ups and downs of mixing your passion with your career. My solution has been to keep learning and taking steps forward-even (especially) when it feels like you’re on a back hill slide. There is no end to this road the musicians are on, which to me is the most amazing part. You can learn something from any musician playing any instrument in any genre; you just have to be open to it.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Wow, that’s a big question, I would say remember that the number of good people in the world far outweighs the bad. We’re stuck as a society right now in this shock value game where the most extreme voices are the ones amplified. We all have so much in common that I feel we need to focus more on that.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My dad always said he doesn’t care what I do, just to make sure I truly give it everything I can. That is definitely something I carry with me and gets me through some of the harder times.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
Oh man, my favorite artist/musician, hands down, is Ian Thornley with the band Big Wreck. He is an impeccable singer and an absolute monster on guitar, but his creativity is on a different level than anyone I’ve ever heard. He and the band nail some complex music theory while remaining aesthetically pleasing and easy to listen to. Haha, if he’s ever around town, tell him I’m buying!
How can our readers follow you online?
My website is:
And my socials are:
Appreciate it y’all!
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!