Songwriter 'Believes' in Dreams

Ross Copperman ('04) is making music
By Darcie Roberge ('06)

Ross Copperman ('04)

Ross Copperman ('04)

Making music starts early

Playing piano from the age of three, Ross Copperman ('04) made music before he knew how to speak in full sentences. After the sentences began forming, it wasn't long before the Roanoke native started writing songs -- not just pop songs, but rock, country, R&B, hip-hop and jazz.

Record contract with Phonogenic

After more than 20 years on the piano, Copperman is finally turning dream into reality. He's signed a record contract with a major label. Phonogenic, a British label that's a branch of Sony BMG, negotiated with Copperman for five months to establish a contract.

"It's one of the best feelings in the world accomplishing something on your list of things to do before you die," says an ecstatic Copperman, who sloughs off the question of how you find the drive to make dreams real. "You don't find drive. You are either born with it, or you don't have it," he says.

Behind every musical success story is a support system. Copperman's support came in the form of sound advice from good managers and good people. "It's all about the team you surround yourself with because this is a very hard business," he says.

The U.K., then the U.S.

Copperman decided to try to sign with a British record label because "It's easier to break in the United Kingdom first," he says. Maroon 5 and The Killers also chose this route. "They are more receptive to my style of music, and it's overall a good approach to take," says Copperman. After his record breaks in the U.K., fans can expect to see a U.S. release.

Copperman moved to the United Kingdom in April to promote his new record and will remain there for the remainder of 2006. His tour began this summer and will include all of the major U.K. festivals.

Some of Copperman's favorite artists include Radiohead, Travis and The Beatles. "Any band or songwriter that writes a great song gets my support," says Copperman. OK Computer by Radiohead is his favorite album. "It's one of the best-produced albums that I've ever heard," says Copperman.

Emotionally charged songwriting

Copperman's songwriting style is emotionally charged -- based on what is going on in his life at the moment. "I feel like I get the most meaningful lyrics when I create fictitious characters based off of my emotions and life experiences," he says. According to critics at, "Copperman places a lot of emphasis on catchy hooks, a practice that always leaves the crowd singing his songs."

"I wouldn't be where I am today if it hadn't have been for the support of JMU."

Copperman likes to stay on top of current technology, too. He has podcast his 2004 independent, solo CD release Believe. "Podcasts are like radio shows in mp3 format," says Copperman, who has performed with many bands and artists including Gavin DeGraw, Rod Stewart and Phil Vassar. His favorite touring experience was with Better Than Ezra. "Those were some of the craziest nights of my life," Copperman laughs.

If he could meet any musician, living or dead, Copperman says he would choose Paul McCartney. "I would ask him how it feels to have written some of the greatest songs of our time."

A former JMU Student Ambassador

The former JMU Student Ambassador says, "JMU is where it all started for me. Being a Student Ambassador was instrumental in helping my career because it allowed me to meet a lot of different people who played big roles in the JMU community. I built up my [musical] following at JMU and it spread from there. I wouldn't be where I am today if it hadn't have been for the support of JMU."

Learn more about Copperman at