It may seem shallow to compare Ron Pope to the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon or Jackson Browne, with their decades’ worth of platinum albums, but it feels honest to describe his potential that way.
As a quiet teenager, Ron was listening to The Band, Stevie Wonder and endless hours of Bob Dylan, artists who would influence his writing depth, vocal style and marriage of pop melodies with bluesy guitar riffs and folksy grit. Ron outgrew his quiet personality about the time he left his childhood home in suburban Atlanta to pursue his first love, baseball, at Rutgers University. He played for two seasons, but the road to collegiate athletics is paved with sprains and fractures. After a career-ending injury, he transferred to NYU and chased a new dream in New York — inspiring people through his music with soulful songs about love, loss and redemption, as well as heartfelt tunes about growing up and finding your way back home.
Ron was rapidly become the vibrant front man of The District, a band he started with classmates Zach Berkman, Paul Hammer, Chris Kienel, Will Frish and Mike Clifford, who he met in a songwriting circle. This wasn’t just any college band — not the kind you’d find in a garage, vibrating the shingles off your neighbor’s roof. The District became a New York household name in its own right, selling out popular venues, as well as playing a vital role in defining Ron’s style as lyricist.
Ron’s solo career evolved out of his individual sense of exploration. He was compelled to try new sounds, use various instruments and write more songs to produce something original yet lasting, something resonant for his listeners. He hit one out of the park in 2008 when he was asked to perform on MTV’s TRL in a review of unsigned, up-and-coming artists. His 2006 song, “A Drop in the Ocean” was already an online darling. When the song was featured on hit shows such as The Vampire Diaries, 90210 and So You Think You Can Dance earlier this year, Ron’s fans took to Facebook and Twitter to spread the word, and it showed when the song became a top 100 download on iTunes. “A Drop in the Ocean” received so much positive feedback that Javier Colon, season 1 winner of NBC’s The Voice, recorded it as the first single off his premier album, Come Through for You.
With more fan-made videos on YouTube than most Top 20 radio hits, you’re just as likely to pull up a video of a fan’s version of one of Ron’s songs than his original — one user’s video of “A Drop in the Ocean” has more than 20 million views. And Ron loves it; he’s just as likely tweet the link to a fan’s video as he is one of his new singles.
Ron is much more than the labels and stereotypes he’s acquired during his budding career: Recording artist. Musician. Rock star. Guitar player. Songwriter. Vocalist. Performer. Ron is a musical Renaissance Man, writing, composing, recording, producing, managing, and igniting his own career. He’s stood at a crossroads where so many musicians find themselves — at the intersection of record label and independence. In an ever-evolving industry filled with rejection and compromise, Ron has plotted a new course for his music to reach loyal listeners, taking the industry-road-less-traveled in exchange for the ultimate payback, a league of devoted fans the world over.
Four independent albums and 145 singles on iTunes later, Ron is still showing us — all of us — another layer to his talent. As familiar and timeless as “Born to Run,” tracks from his latest album Atlanta, such as “City in Motion,” and “Tears of Blood,” highlight Ron’s vocal sincerity, earnest lyrics and rock-solid melodies, genuine as they ever were. Listening to this album feels like watching the birth of a raconteur whose longevity is apparent even in his infancy, whose stories outlast the storyteller. Ron’s sound — his voice and his guitar — attach to that smallest and strongest place in your memory, where the thousandth listen feels as if you’re hearing a lyric or harmony for the first time.
And when you’re pleasantly surprised to find yourself humming one of his tunes on the subway, you can’t stop yourself from sharing his music with a friend, a coworker or even a stranger. That’s the story to be told about Ron Pope — music that moves its listeners, stories that touch their lives, songs that see them through.