It’s an unseasonably sunny February day in New York. Juke Ross plans to spend it at the botanical garden. “There’s a ray of sunshine,” he says over the phone. “It’s yellow. It colors everything nicely I think.”
Ross is now a seasoned traveler, but takes time to appreciate the little things. His favorite botanical garden? The one in Frankfurt, Germany. His favorite view? The view from the top of Mt. Fløyen in Norway. He’s an avid museum-goer and sightseer, a cricket player, and perhaps most importantly, he has been writing, recording, and performing his own songs since 2017.
Only a couple years ago Ross was halfway through medical school in Guyana. He had planned on becoming an ear, nose, and throat specialist. “I just began listening to music more and more. Before I knew it, I was humming and singing and wanting to play the guitar,” explains Ross. In 2016 he learned the guitar, because to him it felt right and good. Soon after, he left medical school and moved the United States to pursue music.
First, he spent three months in Atlanta in 2017. “I remember coming, having left everyone home, and just being alone, not knowing anyone in Atlanta,” Juke recalls. “I just remember feeling so alone there, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.” His upcoming single “Atlanta,” captures that time, and will further tell the story of those first few months away from home. The song will come out sometime in March.
His most recent release “Amazing,” is a love song that includes love of every shape and size. He wrote it in New York about a year ago, as he has settled into making music a full-time job. The accompanying video for “Amazing” was inspired by fan’s comments on Instagram. Ross asked his listeners to share their thoughts and stories on Valentine’s day. These comments are included in the video and we see their stories happening onscreen, highlighting all different forms of love. “[Love] is not one-dimensional,” Ross explains. “Whether it’s a friendship, or a love with a pet or a passion to do something or be something. It’s that love can be amazing.”
Ross got his start covering feel-good love songs like Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours.” He grew up surrounded by a blend of cultures and listened to everything from Bob Marley to Bob Dylan. Now based in New York, he crafts his own blend of Caribbean folk and radio-worthy pop.
Ross didn’t adopt the name “Juke Ross” until he moved to the US to pursue music. “Changing one’s name is somehow a form of taking your destiny, taking charge of what you want to become,” he says. He’s soft spoken over the phone, but unwavering in the goals he has set for himself as a songwriter and musician.
He misses home all the time. Mostly he misses the breeze. “The morning breeze. Such a crazy thing. I’m a morning person generally and so I wake up quite early and I go outside. I can feel my lungs expand with the air,” Ross recalls. “I left because I wanted to discover other airs, I wanted to discover other breezes. I wanted to see what it felt like in New York or Europe or Canada, you know? And there’s a part of me that loves all of that as well.”