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  • Writer's pictureSoul City Cleveland

Eugene Ross: Using Music to Inspire Hope and Address Trauma in Cleveland

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

As the year winds down and mid-November arrives, communities in northeast Ohio continue to grapple with alarming increases in crime rates. Despite the efforts of the political and public safety sectors, homicides, juvenile violent crimes, and car thefts have all risen sharply. This highlights a crucial need for a more comprehensive community intervention.

Interestingly, the arts and culture sector could have a significant impact in addressing this issue. However, engagement through art alone is not enough. Cross-sectoral collaboration is needed to address barriers to integrating arts and culture within the public safety sector and to advance collaborations with artists.

Enter Soul City Cleveland Stories

Soul City Cleveland Stories is a culturally responsive community arts project that aims to connect youth participants from under-resourced communities with elder Black artists through virtual and in-person engagement. It is a result of a partnership between Cleveland Rocks: Past, Present and Future, the Youth Resiliency Institute, and the National Rites of Passage Institute. The project also involves archiving the wisdom and knowledge of elder Black artists in a respectful manner. Youth participants learn about career paths through the arts as well as the powerful role of music in fostering hope, optimism, pride, and joy within the African-American community.

Eugene Ross discusses cross-sectoral arts-based interventions for youth alongside Cindy Barber, Founder of Cleveland Rocks: Past, Present, and Future, and Soul City Cleveland Stories advisory members. (Photo courtesy of Soul City Cleveland)

One artist who has made a significant contribution to Soul City Cleveland Stories is Eugene Ross. An accomplished singer, guitarist, songwriter, cartoonist, and performer, Ross has opened for several notable artists including Liza Minnelli, Scott Hamilton, Kenny Loggins, and the Beach Boys. His musical style follows in the footsteps of Curtis Mayfield, Gil Scott Heron, and Marvin Gaye, who used their art to reflect on pivotal moments in history. Like these legendary artists, Ross employs his music to foster contemplation on urgent issues affecting our communities.

As a former educator in public schools, Ross recognizes the potential of the arts to create change in people's lives. Over the decades, he has employed artistic strategies to link students living in neighborhoods with significant justice-system involvement to sustainable careers through arts-based career mentorship.

A Call to Action

Explore Eugene Ross's story with Soul City Cleveland Stories and gain insight into how his performances promote a sense of interconnectedness and well-being across all age groups. Harness the inspirational force of music to spur you towards action and join us in building the change our communities demand. Explore the possibilities of booking Ross for performances, workshops, or classroom visits.

By Fanon Hill

Learn more about Soul City Cleveland Stories and the forthcoming Soul City Cleveland documentary at

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