If asked about their favorite artists, people familiar with contemporary Christian music would likely name artists such as Lauren Daigle, Hillsong or MercyMe. There is one individual though who has flown under the mainstream radar while leaving quite the mark on the industry, and he happens to be an Aggie.
Ross King, singer-songwriter and Class of 1994, traces his career back to his time as a student at the Home of the 12th Man.
Growing up in Bryan with two Aggie parents and the school in such close proximity, Texas A&M was a natural choice for King when it came to starting university. He enrolled in A&M as a political science major, intending to pursue law school after he graduated, but his music began to open doors he never saw coming.
King’s parents had involved him in music at a young age, but it wasn’t until his college years that King picked up a guitar to facilitate his songwriting. This eventually led to him leading music for Breakaway Ministries, a Christian organization on campus with membership in the thousands. While he is not the organization’s first music leader — having followed one of Christian music’s most popular children, Chris Tomlin — King is often credited with being the first as he helped Breakaway establish its musical identity by recording songs for them among other production aspects.
Still, music was just a hobby for King until the spring of 1995 he was noticed at one of his other music gigs by Caedmon’s Call, a Christian music sensation at the time. They offered King the opportunity to open a concert for them, and from there, his music career began to roll. When most seniors would be looking for jobs before graduation, King was landing more gigs and music work until it reached the point where he could sustain a living from it, and he hasn’t stopped since.
Not wanting to be apart from his family as much as a life of touring would require, King found other means to put his music to work in providing for himself. While he does play shows, King works for Centricity Music, the same record label home to Lauren Daigle. Ross also writes music for more prominent artists to take to the bigger stages of Christian music and occasionally provides songwriting workshops and music production for budding artists.
When it comes to his own music, King said he prefers to discuss the topics “in the spaces between” what is already being said by more widely known musicians. Drawing from personal experience and what he sees in the world, he writes on themes such as anxiety and depression in his song “The Things That I’m Afraid Of,” or anger and weariness in “Good Company.” Recognizing that struggle is a large part of life, King said he wants people to know there are artists like him out there who are asking hard questions and talking about the struggles of life.
Just recently, King released his single “All My Heroes Are Underdogs.” Although he started writing it nearly a decade ago, King said he never felt like the song was finished. It wasn’t until 2020 with the surge in conflict around racial justice with the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others that the final pieces of the song began to develop. Having two biracial, teenage sons asking questions he couldn’t answer, King felt called to take a “deep-dive” into America’s history of racial injustice and came to realize, despite what he had first believed, he wasn’t the underdog he thought he was. He took time to reflect, considering his position in relation to those less privileged and asked himself what he eventually wrote in his song: Has he “ever been a villain in their story?” This is among the real questions and reflections that King sings of.
With so much contemporary music, religious or not, suffering from superficiality, King’s work is a much-needed voice to help people young and old contend with the deeper waters of life. Whether one is hurting, questioning their world or simply curious, Ross King might have just the song to help.
King’s next album, which he says will bring more songs like “All My Heroes Are Underdogs,” is set to be released in early May.