JACKSON, MI — Jason Cross loved football and even planned to make it his career.
While at Lumen Christi Catholic School, Cross received an offer to play for Sienna Heights University. It didn’t happen after he injured his knee, and it was quite upsetting at the time. But it gave Cross the opportunity to focus on another passion: music.
Going from working hard in football to working hard in music has paid off for the 29-year-old, who is in Nashville and signed with a talent development and management company focused on independent artists.
“It’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me,” Cross said.
Cross, now grew up near Parma with his parents, a younger brother and two younger sisters. He was always surrounded by music, especially his father, Mark Cross, who loved to sing and had a large collection of music.
“You’ll find country music, classic rock, etc. If it’s good, I’ll like it,” her dad said.
When Cross was 11, his mother enrolled him in piano lessons as an extracurricular activity. While he hated it at first, Cross said it helped him find a greater passion for creating music. Soon Cross asked his father to buy a guitar.
Cross learned to play this guitar and began to take music more seriously. In high school, he performed in classes and for his friends. Eventually, he began to take his talents from instruments to paper.
“I always knew I had the ability to tell a story through song – English was definitely my best subject in school,” Cross said.
After graduating from Lumen Christi in 2011 and recovering from his knee injury, Cross began performing at bars and festivals in Jackson, including Oak Tree Lounge and Town Bar. He then joined Michigan-born Sadie Bass, a country artist from Bath.
They enjoyed some success, opening for bigger names like country music’s Jameson Rogers, Jordan Davis and Billy Ray Cyrus.
“Once you’re there, it’s like that’s where I’m meant to be,” Cross said.
By 2021, Cross had fallen in love with performing in front of an audience and dreamed of making it big, and he knew he had to make big changes in his music career to achieve that. Having visited Tennessee for a previous gig, he said he knew he needed to be surrounded by the country music scene there.
So, he packed his bags and moved on to embark on a solo career. Although he said he was scared, his peers and family in Jackson have been nothing but supportive, especially his father, who Cross says has always been there for him.
“I want him to succeed so badly,” Mark Cross said. “He’s going to make the decision and do it; I will support him 100% – I have so much faith in him.
The move paid off as Cross signed with the new Southern Signal Nashville.
“I can put so much more energy into writing now and that’s awesome,” Cross said. “I have such a big support group in Michigan and for them to see this trip is timely in the best way.”
Cross has returned home several times for gigs in Jackson, and the experience is a “completely different world,” he said. He opened for Tyler Braden at Tailgates and Tunes in Jackson last year, and he performed for Fall Fest & Chili Classic in October.
“Every time I (come back) it’s been the best crowd I’ve ever played for. I know every single one of these people loves me and supports me. It’s like home and there’s no other place like this,” he said.
Cross’s father believes his son is a beacon of success for the region, he said.
“From Napoleon to Parma, people are proud, he is part of them,” said Mark Cross. “No matter where you come from, you can get there if you work hard at it.”
Cross said he plans to continue making music and trying to change lives with his songs. He is grateful for his faith, his family and the communities of Jackson and Nashville for supporting him on his journey.
“I never had anyone tell me I couldn’t do something,” Cross said.
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