Searching for Avidity

Daniel Ross isn’t your typical college student.

The 23-year-old from Fayetteville, NC came to Western Carolina University in the fall of 2009.  Six years later, he is finishing up his communication degree with a concentration in public relations and a minor in hospitality and tourism.

He is graduating in May, and he will be celebrating his three-year marriage anniversary with his wife Cara in June. What’s rare about Daniel is everything that came in between. It all started at age 14 when Daniel got into songwriting.

“I wasn’t any good at songwriting back then,” said Daniel.  “But I think the longer you do anything, the better you get at it.”

In 2010, Daniel took time off from school to pursue music.  He toured with a pop/punk bank called Divided By Friday, but ended up parting with the group when they began moving in different directions in their lifestyles as well as musically.

“I felt like my faith in Jesus and my desires were pulling me away from the band,” Ross said.  “When I left, I honestly didn’t know what I was going to do.”

Where Daniel ended up is right where he started – Cullowhee, NC.

At this point, his parents weren’t supporting him, so he found comfort and shelter with some of his close friends involved in a ministry.  He lived with them while he got back on his feet, and for the next year, attended community college and worked to make some money.

In the fall of 2012, he transferred back to WCU. His story was starting over, but what followed were the pages of the most remarkable chapter to date.

In 2008, Daniel picked up songwriting again and started collaborating with Brandon Day.  They were buddies that did it for the fun and enjoyment of writing. That is still true today, but they are aiming higher,  and they want to be the best they can be. Daniel is as humble as they come, and he would be the first person to tell you that there isn’t anything extraordinary about him.

“I’m really just a normal dude, nothing too special about me.  I’ve just been given some really cool opportunities,” said Ross.

He can say what he wants, but his songwriting ability is anything but ordinary.  It’s his way of expressing the undeniable talent he was blessed with. He will be showcasing that talent on Friday, April 10 at 8:15 p.m. at The Point Coffee Shop in Cullowhee, NC.

In what has taken months and months of planning and build-up with Catamount Communications, the student-run public relations firm at WCU, Daniel, Brandon, and John-Luke Carter –a fellow songwriter and friend of Daniel’s – will perform original music and give their audience a behind-the-scenes look at the songwriting process.

“An Evening with Avidity,” as the event has been titled, refers to Daniel’s studio – Avidity Recording Studio. Daniel is hoping to show how his studio is unique in its own way.

“All the recording studios I’ve been to growing up, people don’t treat you like humans.  They treat you like projects and business”, said Ross.  “What separates my studio from other studios is I am interested in trying to provide something more for artists.

“I want them to cast their vision for what they want to do in the music industry and take that and create something competitive, sounds great, and help them take steps towards their goals so they don’t have to make the same mistakes I made when I first started.   I’m just trying to prevent them from that.”

He also makes sure he builds a strong, encouraging relationship with his clients from day one.

“I’m trying to be let them know I care about them and their projects.  When I ask someone to come into the studio, we just hang out the first day and talk about records,” said Daniel.  “I like to get to know them as a person because it helps me know where they’re coming from and what they want to do.”

A team of students from the TV Documentary Production course in the communication department is also in the process of filming a documentary titled “The Spirit of Songwriting,” focusing on the culture of songwriting in Nashville and what it takes to make it in the music industry.

Brandon was signed by by Destiny Nashville, a recording studio and production company in Nashville.

Daniel is just scratching the surface on leaving his own signature sound. He has gone back and forth between Nashville and Cullowheee, NC to collaborate with Brandon and continue to write fresh and original music.  In that time, a strong relationship between Daniel and Destiny has flourished. Daniel doesn’t know what’s to come, but he is more than ready to have the opportunity to join Brandon and work in Nashville.

“Looking towards the future, we’re planning on shaking things up and shattering some expectations,” said Ross.  “We’re super hungry to tear it up there.”


This story was edited for AP Style post-publishing on April 9, 2015.