'It was time to continue that growth'

Alicia Adams
Ami Russ is a Milton native who recently returned home from California after pursuing a career in country music. She is now the lead singer of the Bay Bridge Band and will soon release an album under the name "Gussie." [Special to the Press Gazette]

MILTON — Ami Gussie Russ, a 2004 graduate of Milton High School, left her hometown in 2014 to pursue a career in country music in California with the non-profit group the Young Americans. Nearly four years later, she’s back in Florida living her dreams. 

“[My move to California] really did seem to be a launching pad to everything that I’m doing now,” Russ said. “Being in the group taught me a serious work ethic. I learned that it’s important to have a good understanding of not only the performance side and entertainment side but the business side as well.” 

Russ took the knowledge she learned and decided to follow a solo career. In 2014, she released her first EP, which she said was nerve-wracking, since she has only shared her writing with a few people. 

According to Russ, she’s always felt females like herself were underrepresented in her chosen genre: country music. 

“Country music from day one has always been where I felt the most at home,” Russ said. “I love that it was about telling a story, and really painting a picture for the listener. I love the sense of community, and that people from different walks of life can relate in one way or another.” 

So far, most her fans have been welcoming, while she has encountered a handful of “infuriating comments,” that are thankfully few and far between. 

“I’m glad that as a society we have come far enough to where people are listening with their ears and not there eyes so to speak,” Russ said. “When I’m on stage, I never think about that aspect of it. My goal is always been to do what I love to the best of my ability and with a genuine heart.” 

Russ recently moved back to the Milton area, and she said it was for the betterment of her career. She missed her friends and family, and felt her time in California has come to an end. 

“I learned what I could and grew as much as I could there. Now it was time to continue that growth,” Russ said. “I saw wonderful changes in the music scene happening here, and I wanted to be a part of it.” 

The doors began to open for her once she got back home. She soon met John Drummond, a local drummer and member of the Bay Bridge Band. 

“He asked me if I would be interested in auditioning to be a singer in the band, and I leaped at the opportunity,” Russ said. “I now get to surround myself with some of the most talented and knowledgeable musicians I’ve ever met.” 

Russ has been signing with the band for approximately two years, playing all over the Gulf Coast. As the lead singer, Russ said they are constantly trying to grow as a group and try new styles outside of their comfort zone. 

“They welcomed me with open arms and I will always be extremely grateful,” Russ said. “The 2018 calendar year is absolutely jam-packed with amazing things.” 

Besides performing with the Bay Bridge Band, Russ is also writing music and releasing a full album under the artist name “Gussie.” Russ and her team plan to release video footage and behind the scenes looks into the music-making process.