Ross Key, age 54, passed away on March 6, 2017. The family will be receiving friends at Sellars Funeral Home, Lebanon TN, on Saturday, March 11, 2017 from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. He is survived by spouse Brenda Porter, mother Myra Key, brother Edward Key, and son David Garland Key. He is preceded in death by father Edward Garland and brother Steven Key.
Ross received his degree in Drafting & Architectural Science from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. He was a Journeyman Carpenter: master carpenter, master electrician, and master plumber.
Ross traveled the professional country, bluegrass, and gospel music circuits over his 38 years in the music industry. He sat in on guitar with Willie Nelson during a concert by personal invitation from Willie and opened for many of the country music stars of the 70s and 80s.
ROSS KEY COUNTRY
"Resurrecting Music Row One Country Song At A Time" ...RKC
QUICK FACTS ABOUT ROSS KEY
• Vocals • Guitar (6 & 12 string) • Dobro • Banjo • Fiddle • Keyboard/Piano • Mandolin • Upright Bass
• Entertainer • Musician • Songwriter
• 30+ Years Professional Experience
• Sold through ASCAP
• Represented by BMI Nashville
PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND INCLUDES:
• COUNTRY CIRCUIT
• BLUEGRASS CIRCUIT
• GOSPEL CIRCUIT
He has performed on stage with Willie Nelson by personal invitation, and opened for Waylon Jennings, Alabama, Emmylou Harris, Ronnie Milsap, Conway Twitty, Jimmy Buffett, Hank Williams Jr., Freddy Fender, Joe Stampley, Moe Bandy, and numerous others.
HONORS AND AWARDS
• Third Palm Eagle Scout with Boy Scouts of America (1978)
• Boy Scouts of America Western Europe Music Ambassador (1978)
• Earned a private audience with King Gustaf of Sweden during European Tour (1978)
• Recipient of the distinguished Virginia State Dobro Championship (1980)
• Commendation and Recognition from the Musicians In Action Guild (2011)
• Independent Country Music Association (ICoMA) "Best Musician" Nominee (2012 - 2013)
• Independent Country Music Association (ICoMA) "Male Artist of the Year" Nominee (2012 - 2013)
• Independent Country Music Association (ICoMA) "Best Country Music Festival" Winner (2013)
• Currently serving on the Board of Directors for ROPE International (Reunion of Professional Entertainers) (2014 - current)
• Recipient of the State of Tennessee "Colonel Aide de Camp" (2015)
• Recipient of the State of Tennessee "Certificate of Appreciation" for his Traditional Country Network (2015)
• Clay's Country Radio, (United Kingdom) "Male Artist of the Year" Nominee (2016)
• Clay's Country Radio, (United Kingdom) "Songwriter of the Year" Nominee (2016)
• Clay's Country Radio, (United Kingdom) "Band of the Year" Winner (2016)
• State of Tennessee Legislature and Governor Haslam post-humously honored Ross with a Joint House Resolution #352 honoring of his life and contributions to the music industry and veterans (2017)
• Under authorization of Rep. Mark Pody, and the State of Tennessee, Ross will be inducted into the Tennessee Historical Museum in Nashville as a "notable Tennessean" for his contributions to the State through his music and work for veterans, animal protection/rescue, etc. It is also noted and recommended because of his historical heritage as a 7th generation great-grandson of Francis Scott Key, author of the National Anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner. (2017)
• The Texas Country Music Association of Carthage, Texas recognized Ross with a Memorial Award named in his honor for their Volunteer of the Year award. (2017)
Key is a member in good standing with:
• Texas Country Music Association, Inc. (TCMA)
• Country Music Association (CMA)
• Independent Country Music Association (ICoMA)
• Reunion Of Professional Entertainers (ROPE)
• Nashville Musicians Club (NMC) - Honorary Founding Charter Member
• Country Music Association Hall of Fame
• Musicians In Action Guild
Key is the CEO and founder of the Traditional Country Network (TCN). An organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Traditional Country music. It is a networking group of many high profile individuals which make up the charter membership. The members willingly provide support and their experience in helping up-and-coming artists in the genre and one another.
Key hosts his annual Spring Fling, showcasing Traditional Country music artists and up-and-coming performers from around the world. This event takes place mid-May of each year. It has earned him an international award in 2013 as the "Best Country Music Festival" from the ICoMA.
Key has hosted his own Traditional Country Music Show since the Fall of 2011 on lower Broadway until early summer of 2012, bringing acts onto his stage that promote, write and perform Traditional Country music, whether through covers, tributes and/or original material.
Key headlined the KIDS benefit sponsored by the Musicians In Action Guild of Nashville, Tennessee for children who are under the age of 18. Key and his manager, Brenda Porter, received honorary membership and a commendation for their dedication to the fundraiser, and recognition for their $500.00 contribution. (Nov. 2011)
He hosted a fundraising concert for the Lebanon-Wilson County Humane Society which took place in August 2012 in Lebanon, Tennessee.
Born and raised in Lynchburg, Virginia, to Garland and Myra Key, Ross Key was the youngest of three sons. He had one son, David Garland Key from a previous marriage. He was preceded in death by his father, and older brother, Steven.
Born with a God-given musical talent, he would tell you he had to work at learning each instrument he plays, although he easily acquired the basics of music. Until 2011, Key lived within a 20-mile radius of his hometown. Key's paternal grandparents told him he was a direct descendent (7th generation) grandson of Francis Scott Key, the author of our nation's National Anthem, the Star Spangled Banner. His uncle, Tommy Dunaway, played bass for Mel Tillis, so as a child, he was exposed to the world of country music. Key recalls meeting Tillis' daughter, Pam, when they were both small children.
Ross was given his first guitar by an older brother at age 12 and by 15, he was teaching guitar professionally at a local music store. He had his first paid, weekly gig by age 14 with his band, David Key and the MasterLocks. He performed live on a local Jerry Lewis Telethon, and hired to perform at a McDonalds’ Grand Opening at that age. At age 16, he traveled Europe with the Boy Scouts of America, performing before King Gustaf of Sweden, which earned him a private audience with the King. He also performed before other political figures of that time throughout Europe. Key earned his Third Palm Eagle Scout badge by age 18.
A versatile musician, Key is an established professional entertainer and musician, developing his own unique style of guitar picking. He incorporates his own material into his show which has garnered much attention from local and regional venues, radio stations, A&R’s, and record companies. Versatility coupled with a unique and distinctive style of his own, Key maintains a firm grasp on country music as it was performed by country music legends decades ago. His vocals range from soft and rasping to a hard, driving sound that creates an air of originality. Unlike many in his field, Key doesn't duplicate or mimic. He makes each song his own, performing those songs that touch his heart in some manner. Key opens every show with his signature song, "Under The Double Eagle", capturing the attention of audiences wherever he performs.
Key held the #1 spot for 24 months on ReverbNation’s local country music chart with his song, Saturday Night, and maintains a growing international fan base. Saturday Night still holds the #2 spot on his hometown country chart. In March and April 2011, Key debuted his talent in Nashville for the first time, performing in prestigious venues such as the Nashville Palace, Bluebird Cafe, and The Listening Room. However, it wasn’t until he attended a jam session in Lebanon, TN that he caught the attention of the then recently inducted CMA Hall of Fame, multi-platinum songwriter, Roy August. To-date, the pair have co-written songs for Key to record on a forthcoming album. His four week debut turned into a six week stay, having to return for another two weeks in May and June. In July 2011, Key officially moved to Nashville, leaving his native Lynchburg, Virginia for the first time.