Published: May 3, 2016
Kate Brady Ross

To be a young person in Steamboat Springs pretty much means to be physical active and have a healthy competitive streak, and Kate Brady Ross is no exception.

She was a ski racer, volleyball player and member of the swim team. She played tennis and lacrosse.

And she wrote music and sang, which is not quite as common in the cowboy cultured ski town. Now she’s collaborating on a record with Ariel Rechtshaid - the same Grammy Award-winning producer who’s worked with Adele and Justin Bieber - after winning the Guitar Center’s Singer Songwriter 5 Competition in March. And she’ll be performing on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in coming months.

Ross - whose performance name is Kate Brady and who is graduating with an English degree - credits the supportive yet competitive environment in her hometown with setting her up for success in the arts as well. While it may not be known as a hub for music, Steamboat Springs has a distinctly western can-do spirit.

“It’s a cute little mountain town that is full of support,” she says. “You grew up with so many kids who went on to compete in the X Games or the Olympics or to do professional sports. That made anything possible. I never once was like, ‘I can’t do this.’”

Ross honed her artistic side in CU-Boulder’s English department where she majored in creative writing with a focus on poetry after a few side excursions into film and the business of music. She found herself drawn to the humanities.

“If I get a degree why not stretch myself?” she says. “I love reading. I love the classes and the hugely intelligent discussions. It complements the music so much.”

To put it another way, Ross works tirelessly to exercise her “word muscle,” and to expand her vocabulary and knowledge as a way to inject her lyrics with deeper meaning in the style of musical legends Joni Mitchell or Bob Dylan.

Ross has come a long way fast from those early days of dreaming up acapella melodies in her head as a 7-year-old daughter of a pediatrician dad and physician assistant and former park ranger/ski instructor mom.

Ross will perform at the English department commencement ceremony Friday at 11 a.m. at Mary Rippon Theatre. While it’s not the Troubadour in Los Angeles, where she performed as part of the Guitar Center competition, Ross says CU-Boulder will always be an extension of her Colorado home base.

Watch and listen to Ross sing her song August on this YouTube link.