Monterey native Ross Ellis Lipsey of Nashville will be signing a 4-year record deal with a major company on January 17.
"This is a big one," said Lipsey, who goes by his first and middle name professionally -- Ross Ellis.
Ellis' latest release, "Buy and Buy" -- has received a lot of air play on SiriusXM - The Highway.
"I was a little anxious to put that out because it is so personal," Ellis said. "It's really cool to see how much it has affected people. And the Highway has been amazing through this whole journey. They have changed my life. It's all been surreal."
Ross was named a Highway Finds artist by SiriusXM.
Buy and Buy made the top 30 Purchased Country Singles on Apple Music. The song uses imagery from his Southern Baptist upbringing.
Lipsey was struggling with the combination of a recent breakup and the frustration of not getting any recent cuts when it hit him. He went into the studio and freestyled for 35-to-40 minutes before weaving it into his favorite gospel song, “Old Rugged Cross.”
Ellis was raised singing in the church and remembers begging his grandfather to take him to listen to the preacher whose name really was Jack Daniels, as his lyrics suggest.
“This preacher was amazing," Ellis sid. "He was definitely blessed. My grandpa ended up getting saved.”
Both his grandfather and preacher have passed away making this song especially important.
The song has also caught the ear of fellow musicians.
Country Music star Thomas Rhett told Nashville Country Daily in their “Play It Forward” segment, which beckons the featured artist to recommend an artist or song that mainstream country fans may not be familiar with, mentioned Ellis.
“I’ve never met this guy, but I heard his song on [SiriusXM’s] The Highway the other day—his name is Ross Ellis, and the song is called ‘Buy and Buy,’” Rhett told Nashville Country Daily. “I think it’s one of the freshest songs on the radio.”
"That was really cool," Ellis said. "I didn't see that coming. I don't even know Thomas, so it was not like something that was planned."
Ellis is releasing six or seven songs next month that he has written about his writing process.
"It's going to be half an album people can download," he said. "It's going to be a volume one and then we will release a volume 2 later."
Ellis' first single was "Ghosts," which was originally written for Kip Moore, but Moore had a deadline to meet for his album.
"Rascal Flatts' lead singer (Jay DeMarcus) reached out to me about that song, but I told him I wanted to keep it," Ellis said. "Everything happens for a reason."
Ellis co-wrote the country hit song Neon Church for Tim McGraw. It reached No. 20 on the Billboard Country charts.
But Ellis is now concentrating more on his singing career.
"I'm holding a lot more songs for myself," he said. "It's kind of neat saying, 'Nope, that's mine.'"
Ellis said he's looking forward to new projects in 2020.
"I just want to keep doing what I'm doing and keep things rolling," he said. "I hope what I'm doing is impacting some people. It shows someone from the smallest of towns can really do this thing."
Lipsey formed the band Wayside with his brother Drew and friends Aaron Adair, Seth Cotton and later Nick Vargo while in high school. The band played at the Jim Bowie Festival, and several other events before landing an opening act spot for Chris Cagle at the Monroe Civic Center in 2013.
"There are times I wake up at four in the morning, get an idea and write it down," he said. "Sometimes it's just picking on my guitar, and sometimes it's just ideas we throw around the room. It can take about four hours. If I can't come up with something, I go to lunch earlier. But songs come from everywhere and everything. I can get ideas from something I read, from someone I know, from a magazine or twitter. I use my life experiences, or other people's life experiences. You just have to develop an ear for what's called a hook or title."
Ross, who now resides in Nashville, said the name change was made as a marketing move because it is easier to remember.
"But I'm still a home boy and miss my family and the people back home," Ross said. "My little sister is just now going into high school. But this is where I'm supposed to be."
Ellis was also recently added to the Spotify New Boots playlist.
Among his recent accomplishments, Ross was selected to be in the Association of Independent Music Publishers Songwriter’s Class of 2017 with SiriusXM’s Highway Finds alum Ashley McBryde.
Ellis debuted his first single, “Home For The Weekend” on SiriusXM’s The Highway channel with Buzz Brainard from his new EP Home For The Weekend and performed an unreleased version of his song “Ghosts.” The EP was produced by Brad Tursi, songwriter and lead guitarist in Old Dominion.
"I really didn't know what to expect when I got here," Ross said. "Life takes you where you need to go. It's very competitive and we all pay our dues. I just want to keep working my way up. It's been a long journey. I appreciate my family for helping me stay grounded. This path is not for most and I've missed out on a lot. But this is also very rewarding. I'm thankful for where I am now."
Ellis has performed in all but three states -- Alaska, Hawaii and Maine.
"Maybe I can save Hawaii for last," Ellis said. "I'm hearing from people from all over who have seen my videos. I'm being recognized in many places, especially airports. This has been such a blessing. And I know God is in control."