Happy Monday, Everyone. This Week’s featured artist is Macy Gray.
Macy Gray (born Natalie Renée McIntyre; September 6, 1967) is an American R&B, jazz and soul singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and actress, known for her distinctive raspy voice, and a singing style heavily influenced by Billie Holiday.
Gray has released six studio albums, and received five Grammy Award nominations, winning one. She has appeared in a number of films, including Training Day, Spider-Man, Scary Movie 3, Lackawanna Blues, Idlewild and For Colored Girls. Gray is best known for her international hit single “I Try”, taken from her multi-platinum debut album On How Life Is.
Macy Gray was born in Canton, Ohio, to Laura McIntyre, a math teacher, and Otis Jones. While studying scriptwriting at the University of Southern California, she agreed to write songs for a friend, and a demo session was scheduled for the songs to be recorded by another singer. When the vocalist failed to turn up, Gray recorded them herself. She then met writer/producer Joe Solo while working as a cashier in Beverly Hills. Together, they wrote a large collection of songs and recorded them in Solo’s studio.
The demo tape landed Gray the opportunity to sing at jazz cafés in Los Angeles. Despite Gray’s dislike of her own voice, Atlantic Records signed her. She began recording her debut record but was dropped from the label upon the departure of her A&R man Tom Carolan, who signed her to the label. Macy returned to Ohio but in 1997 Los Angeles based Zomba Publishing Sr. VP A&R man Jeff Blue, convinced her to return to music and signed her to a development deal, recording new songs based on her life experiences, with a new sound, and began shopping her to record labels. In 1998, she landed a record deal with Epic Records. She was on one of the songs from the Black Eyed Peas’ debut album, “Love Won’t Wait. ‘
On How Life Is (1999–2001)
Gray worked on her debut album in 1999 with producer Darryl Swann. Released in the summer of 1999, On How Life Is became a worldwide smash. Despite the first single “Do Something” stalling on the charts, the release of the second single “I Try” made the album a success for Gray. “I Try” (which was originally featured in Love Jones and the Jennifer Aniston-starring vehicle, romantic-comedy Picture Perfect in 1997) was one of the biggest singles of 1999, and subsequent singles “Still” and “Why Didn’t You Call Me” ensured the album becoming triple platinum in the US, quadruple platinum in the UK, and triple platinum in Canada.
In 2001, Gray won the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “I Try”, which was also nominated for “Song of the Year” and “Record of the Year” She then collaborated with Fatboy Slim, the Black Eyed Peas, and Slick Rick (on the song “The World Is Yours”, from the Rush Hour 2 soundtrack), as well as acting for the first time in the thriller Training Day. In August 2001, Gray was booed off the field at the Pro Football Hall of Fame exhibition game after forgetting the lyrics to the American national anthem.