Vanessa Rousso Enters Music Business, Leaving Poker?



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Last Sunday saw the New England Patriots come from behind to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in arguably one of the most exciting Super Bowl games in history. It also could have marked the departure of one of poker’s most visible players as she sets off on a potential career in the music industry.

Vanessa Rousso debuted on Sunday during the Super Bowl halftime show her latest endeavor, a dance single called “Kiss Face.” Along with her significant other Melissa Ouellet and under the auspices of an overall group called N1TEL1TE, the song is now available on Apple Music for streaming and through iTunes for those who are looking to purchase the song. The song has made some noise on the dance charts, with Twitter being the main driver of its success.

Rousso has earned her stripes in this domain by being an excellent student. Studying at the Berklee School of Music gave Rousso some technical expertise, but that was only part of the experience. She has been improving on the basics by stepping into clubs and special events, performing in front of throngs of people.

What was the basis of the song? Rousso explained on SoundCloud that “The idea for the “Kiss Face” vocal hook came about when we were out at Coachella and saw a guy (visibly inebriated), blowing kisses and making advances at almost every girl that passed by. There was something tragic about it, watching advance after advance fall flat. Yet there was also an undeniable comedy in the ridiculousness of his approach. As much as he was outrageous, this guy was also a caricature of sorts – a micro version of something nightlife is synonymous with.”

“Kiss Face” is an up-tempo club mix with heavy synthesizers and a pulsing dance beat, something that you would come to expect from the EDM genre. Ouellet and Rousso, however, layer over some audio moves that do separate the song from others you would find in that area of music and help put the musical “hook” into your ear. Be forewarned, however, it is a hardcore dance song, not a lyrical jaunt that is looking to say something deep and profound. It is doing exactly what it is aiming to do – ensure people enjoy themselves, get out on the floor and dance. It could also be something you’d see during a runway show on a Paris catwalk.

Putting together the song has taken up much of the last year of Rousso’s life. With that, there are many questions by Rousso’s poker fandom as to whether she will continue playing the tournament circuit actively. Rousso herself added to this speculation by saying during the release of “Kiss Face,”  “Being a poker player, everything is zero-sum – a win is always somebody else’s loss. On the contrary, making music with Mel means spreading love and making people feel good…and that’s the best feeling in the world,” says Rousso. “That’s my reason for going ‘all in’ on pursuing music full time.”

With the completion of her work in the music business temporarily, Rousso just couldn’t stay away from the green baize, however. “Excited to announce that I will be playing the America’s Poker Tour Main Event at Sarasota Kennel Club One-Eyed Jacks Poker Room in FL!” Rousso excitedly tweeted the day following the release of “Kiss Face.” The burgeoning poker tour will be in Sarasota beginning on March 31, with the $1110 Main Event beginning on April 7 and a final table set to play on April 9.

With over $3.5 million in tournament poker earnings, it isn’t like Rousso doesn’t have some poker skills. Although it has been a bit slow in the cashing department for Rousso since 2012 (roughly $80,000 in earnings), Rousso has had other outlets to keep herself busy. In 2015, Rousso was a houseguest on Big Brother 17, making her mark on the game for the way she manipulated the household around her. Of the 15 evictions during that season of the show, Rousso had her hand in 11 of them and would have won overall (most believe) had her final alliance with the eventual winner of that season of the show, Steve Moses, chosen her to go on to the final vote instead of Liz Nolan. For all her work on the show, allegedly Rousso earned no prize money (Moses took home $500,000 for his efforts, Nolan $50,000) but did win several special opportunities that included meeting singer Ariana Grande.

So, is Rousso done with poker if the music career takes off? Or is Rousso looking to use the poker world as a fallback should the music career stall? Either way it appears that Rousso will be a success.

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