Palisadian Kelsey Ross Starts Day with National Anthem

Special to the Palisades News

Palisadian Kelsey Ross was taken by surprise when organizers for the Will Rogers 5K/10K race reached out to her and asked her to sing the National Anthem on July 4.

“It was lovely, though, because as a kid I always wanted to sing the National Anthem before the race,” Ross said. “The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays because of the traditions like the race in the Palisades.”

Ross, 31, grew up taking dance classes at Fancy Feet Dance Studio and performing in youth musicals through Theatre Palisades Kids. She has participated in the Palisades’ Fourth of July festivities for most of her life.

Kelsey Ross, a physical therapist at OptimistSportPT, performs at local venues with the cover band Model Citizen.
Kelsey Ross, a physical therapist at OptimistSportPT, performs at local venues with the cover band Model Citizen.

“The fireworks are my favorite part,” Ross said. “We stay in the Palisades the entire day. I’ll be biking around the Palisades party hopping. We go to my best friend’s house to watch the fireworks, and from that house it’s such a gorgeous view [off Lachman].”

That friend is Virginia Levanas, whom Ross has known since Theatre Palisades Kids.

“Not only is Kelsey beautiful and has a voice that easily moves people to tears, she has a charisma, passion and zest for life that translates into an incredible stage presence,” Levanas said. “I remember crying during her soulful solos in Les Miz in high school and I feel so lucky to enjoy her talents still as she rocks out with her cover band. She really gets the crowd going! She can move you to tears.”

Ross attended Marymount High School her freshman and sophomore years, but transferred to Palisades High School for the drama department.

She landed the role of Éponine in the school’s production of Les Miserables and she participated in festivals held by the Drama Teachers’ Association of Southern California. She was also a member of the volleyball team.

After graduating from PaliHi in 2003, Ross attended Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. During college, she sang with a co-ed a cappella group, The Chasers, and she was in a musical theater group called Company. She graduated in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in international studies and a minor in vocal performance.

“I was involved in a capella before it became cool—because of Pitch Perfect,” she said. “Now there are all these hilarious movies about it.”

Ross spent eight months abroad. She ran a bed and breakfast in Panama for four months and then sailed to Colombia and continued to backpack through South America. She came back to the Palisades because “I would never live anywhere else. I’ve lived in a ton of places and nothing beats here.”

Despite her many accomplishments in music and theater, Ross is most proud of her doctorate in physical therapy that she received from Midwestern University in 2014. She is now a physical therapist at OptimisSportPT (off Sunset next to Village Photo).

“I have always loved helping people, but I’m also an athlete, so it allows me to help people physically,” Ross said. “I grew up dancing at Fancy Feet, and now I’m working on dancers at Fancy Feet, and I’m working on kids in the drama department from PaliHi, so it’s kind of like beautiful bookends.”

The last two years, Ross has been singing in a ‘70s/’80s cover band called Model Cit- izen. The band performs at Rusty’s Surf Ranch on the Santa Monica Pier, Joxer Daly’s in Culver City and Brennan’s Pub in Marina del Rey.

“I did consider [pursuing a career in music], but then I realized I wanted a stable job. But I wanted to keep singing for fun,” she said.“Singing is my number-one passion.”

Her weekend leading up to her performance at the Will Rogers race is packed. “I have a gig on July 2 until 2 a.m. On July 3, I’m at the Bel-Air Bay Club Fourth of July party, and on July 4, I’m waking up really early to sing the National Anthem,” she said. “Normally I’m singing at night and my vocal cords have warmed up, but I’ll just practice singing in the morning over the next couple of weeks.”

After Ross finishes singing the National Anthem, she will make her way to the starting line to run the race.

“I’m not worried about singing and running,”she said.“Everyone in the Palisades is so supporting and loving. I’m excited to see friends and family, and people [patients] I’ve helped be able to run a 5K.”

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