Tue., July 24, 2012 4:00pm (EDT)

Savannah Singer Roger Moss
By Orlando Montoya
Updated: 2 years ago

SAVANNAH, Ga.  —  
Roger Moss co-founded the Savannah Children's Choir and is looking to establish a new charter school. (photo Diana Daley)
Roger Moss co-founded the Savannah Children's Choir and is looking to establish a new charter school. (photo Diana Daley)
It's the "Year of Moss" in Savannah.

But not the kind that grows on trees.

Savannah singer Roger Moss is having a banner year with several projects keeping him in the public eye -- a choir, a charter school and more.

On top of it all, he has his first-ever CD.

I took a listen and spoke with the ebullient Moss about how he came to the coast and what might lie in his future.

If you've attended fundraisers or concerts in Savannah over the past decade, you've doubtlessly heard Roger Moss' silky smooth baritone.

The 50-something-year-old Tennessee native's voice is a fixture in town.

And it's always accompanied by the singer's trademark laugh.

"Singing is like breathing to me and if it's music that I love I just go with it," he says.

Moss grew up in a Chattanooga home filled with gospel records.

He snuck away from his strict religious parents to watch musicals at the movie theaters.

His passion is for that style of music called the Great American Songbook with composers like George and Ira Gershwin.

"I was very uncomfortable with my voice for a long time because I've always had a big voice and I never knew where it fit," Moss says. "I didn't necessarily want to do classical music. But my voice wasn't really an R&B voice. And then I discovered the American songbook and I said 'Ahh, that's it.'"

Moss describes his first CD, a collaboration with Savannah pianist Eric Jones, as "summer porch music," songs for a lazy afternoon.

Not surprisingly, the disc, "Sentimental Strain," is mostly filled with titles from American popular song.

"I think Americans have this inferiority complex about our music that we should not have," Moss says. "We have, we had great composers, great lyricists."

How Moss got to Savannah's front porch has to do with what he did as a paying career.

The singer says, in addition to flexing his vocal chords, he also always wanted to be a businessman... in a suit and tie. He excelled in media sales.

The work brought him to Savannah, where he sold radio ads, and put him on stage here for the first time.

"The Savannah Symphony was one of my clients," he says. "And I approached them and said, 'You really need to broaden your base. And I convinced them to advertise on a rock & roll station."

"And somehow in the conversation, it came up that I was a singer and Chelsea Tipton, who was one of the conductors at the time, asked me to come in and audition," says Moss. "I moved here in August. That December, I did my first holiday pops concert."

Moss hasn't kept still since.

He co-founded the Savannah Children's Choir six years ago.

This year, that ensemble, an auditioned choir with high musical and academic standards, won a gold medal at the annual choral competition in Verona, Italy.

He's also been active in school board politics, pushing a new charter school, the Savannah Classical Academy.

Moss says, you could see both as connected.

"Kids thrive on high expectations," he says. "They thrive on it."

Last year, Moss dabbled even deeper into politics as the campaign manager for an unsuccessful city council candidate, Ruel Joyner.

With all his connections from sales and stage, it leads to the obvious question, whether he himself ever will run.

The dimpled and dapper man behind the microphone simply laughs and says, "Ask me in four years."