Dr. Kendra Janelle Ross
Dr. Kendra Janelle Ross is an award-winning musical artist, scholar, and business professional based in Pittsburgh. She has appeared at legendary venues such as New York City's The Blue Note, Highline Ballroom (opening for Gregory Porter/Blue Note Jazz Festival), BB King’s Bar & Grill (opening for Lalah Hathaway), and the Arena Theater in Houston (opening for Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds). In 2007, she celebrated the release of her debut album, New Voice, for which she was voted New Artist of the Year by the readers of Soultracks.com. The album features contributions from Eric Roberson, Ray Angry, and Maurice Brown, to name a few. In addition to her solo work, Dr. Ross has collaborated on several high-profile recordings, including the Kanye West-produced hit “Get By” from acclaimed hip-hop recording artist Talib Kweli’s gold-selling album, Quality (2002), Quincy Jones’ Q: Soul Bossa Nostra (2010), and social justice anthem, “Which Side Are You On” (2015) by Kweli and noted hip-hop producer and scholar, 9th Wonder for their collaboration entitled INDIE 500.
In 2021, Dr. Ross received a generous Advancing Black Arts grant from Heinz Endowments and the Pittsburgh Foundation to complete her musical project, This Womanist’s Work, which is slated for a late 2022 release. Through a recent collaboration featuring her compositions and vocal performance called Hepner & Ross’ Intersection*ology, she has also been awarded grants by the Heinz Endowments, the 2018 Carnegie International, and The Opportunity Fund. Intesection*ology has been performed at the August Wilson Center for African-American Culture in Pittsburgh, the International Symposium on Electronic Art in Durban, South Africa, the InLight Richmond Festival in Richmond, Virginia, and the Luminaria Arts Festival in San Antonio, Texas.
An educator and cultural organizer, Dr. Ross served as an Assistant Professor of Sports, Arts, and Entertainment Management at Point Park University, where she also completed a Ph.D. in Community Engagement. Her dissertation research focused on Black women artists and cultural workers in the Hill District, a historic Black community in Pittsburgh, where she serves as the co-chair of #ArtsInHD, a collective of Hill District creatives. Passionate about building a more equitable arts ecosystem in the Pittsburgh region, Dr. Ross served as co-chair of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's Community Advisory Council and currently sits on the Unisound Steering Committee, supporting out-of-school youth music programming in the region. In addition, she is one of the architects of Unisound's Black Teaching Artist-In-Residence program through her firm, ACT3 Consulting Partners. A music industry veteran and business professional, Dr. Ross spent over twenty years working behind the scenes, most recently as the Director of Label Process Operations at Universal Music Group. Dr. Ross continues to write and record music and advocate for other artists while enjoying a thriving business career as Head of Social Impact for ed-tech company, Duolingo.