I first heard about Jay Ross from a post on Facebook; I knew immediately that I had to reach out to him; in order to give him the opportunity to tell his story. Jason Deserve to shine, he reinforces my belief that everyone has a purpose in life. I hope you will take something positive away from this story, enjoy.
Well it isn’t always easy to write about oneself but here goes. My name is Jason Crawford aka “Jay Ross”, my stage name. I was born with a genetic eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa (https://nei.nih.gov/health/pigmentosa/pigmentosa_facts). As a child up to my early twenties I never really felt the effect of my eye disease, I played basketball, got my driver’s license and did all of the visually privileged population enjoys. As the years progressed my eye disease began to worsen and so did my quality of life.
You really don’t realize what you have until it’s gone. We as a human race truly take our health for granted. In my early twenties after turning in my license I really began to notice my eye disease kick in. This really hit me emotionally and with that increased the quickness of the disease because I believe stress is truly the catalyst of disease and ailments. Independence was and is everything to me so I had to adjust my lifestyle and learn to ask for help which has been and is to this day a big issue for me; I often felt like I was burdening people. This along with my foolish pride was not a good combination for success in my early years.
No longer driving and no longer playing basketball at the level I wanted I had to figure out how to accept my new label of being Legally Blind, Visually Impaired and Disabled. These terms were really hard to swallow and I tried to do everything in my power to not let them take over my life but the one thing I should have done was to accept them. I had to train myself, adapt and manage my employment/career options constantly try to figure out what and where I could and would fit in best.
This is when music found me on a more full-time basis; I was always into music and around it in my late teens and early twenties as a Hip Hop performing artist for a well-known local performing group called Noel O and the O Crew and as my own independent artist under the name Baby J. I was able to open up for many well-known music groups such as Fresh Prince, Busta Rhymes, Naughty By Nature, Phife Dawg, The Game, Charlie Tuna, Pharcyde, Swollen Members and many more.
When I was declared legally blind at 21, my music took over. I also found another career that I would continue to pursue and love until this day and that is Youth Work. In my late twenties and early thirties I ran and managed group homes for under privileged youth and worked as a youth development worker. Yes at times these jobs had their challenges but what I noticed is that the youth were very empathetic and surprisingly helpful when it came to my disability. Although this was a disability on paper I began to learn that a lot of benefits come with losing one sense; others senses heighten. I am able to remember things much better because I do not have a choice and I am a very good listener and found that my awareness to my surroundings and environment were really increased. I say this in a jokingly manner but my visually privileged coworkers and friends noticed this also and were quick to praise and remind me of these heightened abilities.
Yes my eye sight is slipping away but I cannot focus on that, I need to focus on the positives that actually came with that and I started embracing them and my new-found life style. To this day I am still very independent but I have learnt to ask for help it I do need it (Still working on this by the way, lol). I am at times very stubborn but I blame my ancestry for that, I am a 9th generation Canadian that comes from a well-documented and rich ancestry. My mother’s side of the family is Black Loyalist and my Father’s side escaped slavery and settled in Halifax from the Underground Railroad.
I was born in Halifax Nova Scotia and I am overly proud of my ancestors’ accomplishments and my cultural history. Today I am living life with a greater acceptance and understanding of my eye disease. I am the facilitator of a 6 week urban music program for Youth called Rap 4 Reason, I am one of the founders/partners/CEO of a Calgary based independent record label called Infinite Elements which I am able to work with upcoming/seasoned artists and I am still performing/producing/composing my own music. I really do not limit myself and my ambitions. The only one that can limit me is me and I know that and remind myself of that when times get tough. Disability is a humbling experience but not a limiting one in my life. I currently have a lot of music on-line. I hope my story touches the heart or life of someone else that has a disability and is possibly going through the early stages of acceptance and emotional difficulties. Hold your head up and always remember that you can make your life whatever you choose it to be, do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
You can reach Jay Ross on the following social media platforms:
Label website: www.infiniteelements.ca
Infinite Elements Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/infiniteelements
Jay Ross Facebook: https://facebook.com/jay.rosscrawford
Jay Ross Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jayrosscrawford
Tha Fax (Jay Ross music group): www.thafaxmusic.com
You can Find Jay Ross recordings for purchase at the links below:
Jay Ross vs Teekay EP (Purchase): https://www.beatport.com/release/jay-ross-vs-teekay-str8-6-shoota/2448882
Jay Ross “No Lines EP” (Purchase):
Tha Fax (Purchase):