Macy Gray

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Macy Gray
Gray performs in Memphis, April 2011
Background information
Birth nameNatalie Renée McIntyre
Born (1967-09-06) September 6, 1967 (age 51)
Canton, Ohio, United States
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • actress
Years active1995–present
Associated acts

Macy Gray (born Natalie Renée McIntyre on September 6, 1967 [2] ) is an American R&B and soul singer-songwriter, musician, record producer and actress. She is known for her distinctive raspy voice and a singing style heavily influenced by Billie Holiday.

Contemporary R&B is a music genre that combines elements of rhythm and blues, pop, soul, funk, hip hop and electronic music.

Soul music is a popular music genre that originated in the African American community in the United States in the 1950s and early 1960s. It combines elements of African-American gospel music, rhythm and blues and jazz. Soul music became popular for dancing and listening in the United States, where record labels such as Motown, Atlantic and Stax were influential during the Civil Rights Movement. Soul also became popular around the world, directly influencing rock music and the music of Africa.

Singer-songwriter musician who writes, composes and sings

Singer-songwriters are musicians who write, compose, and perform their own musical material, including lyrics and melodies.


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 , For Colored Girls , and The Paperboy . Gray is best known for her international hit single "I Try", taken from her multi-platinum debut album On How Life Is .

Grammy Award accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States

A Grammy Award, or Grammy, is an award presented by The Recording Academy to recognize achievements in the music industry. The annual presentation ceremony features performances by prominent artists, and the presentation of those awards that have a more popular interest. The Grammys are the second of the Big Three major music awards held annually.

<i>Training Day</i> 2001 film by Antoine Fuqua

Training Day is a 2001 American crime thriller film directed by Antoine Fuqua, and written by David Ayer. Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke star as two LAPD narcotics officers over a 12-hour period in the gang-ridden neighborhoods of Westlake, Echo Park and South Central Los Angeles.

<i>Spider-Man</i> (2002 film) 2002 superhero film directed by Sam Raimi

Spider-Man is a 2002 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Directed by Sam Raimi from a screenplay by David Koepp, it is the first installment in the Spider-Man trilogy, and stars Tobey Maguire as the title character, alongside Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Cliff Robertson, Rosemary Harris, and J. K. Simmons. The film centers on an outcasted teen named Peter Parker, who develops spider-like superhuman abilities after being bitten by a genetically-altered spider. He is later driven to use his new abilities for a good purpose, as the vigilante Spider-Man, to atone for his uncle's murder.

In 2016, Gray made a large artistic leap by changing labels to record an album produced with binaural sound. Stripped (Chesky Records, 2016) [1] marked the singer's first steps into the world of audiophile recordings.

Binaural recording method of recording sound that uses two microphones

Binaural recording is a method of recording sound that uses two microphones, arranged with the intent to create a 3-D stereo sound sensation for the listener of actually being in the room with the performers or instruments. This effect is often created using a technique known as "dummy head recording", wherein a mannequin head is outfitted with a microphone in each ear. Binaural recording is intended for replay using headphones and will not translate properly over stereo speakers. This idea of a three dimensional or "internal" form of sound has also translated into useful advancement of technology in many things such as stethoscopes creating "in-head" acoustics and IMAX movies being able to create a three dimensional acoustic experience.

Chesky Records record label

Chesky Records is a record company and label founded in 1986 by brothers David and Norman Chesky. The company produces high-definition recordings of music in a variety of genres, including jazz, classical, pop, R&B, folk and world/ethnic. Chesky artists include McCoy Tyner, Herbie Mann, David Johansen and the Harry Smiths, Joe Henderson, Chuck Mangione, Paquito D'Rivera, Ron Carter, Larry Coryell, John Pizzarelli, Bucky Pizzarelli, Babatunde Olatunji, Ana Caram, and Rebecca Pidgeon.

An audiophile is a person who is enthusiastic about high-fidelity sound reproduction. An audiophile seeks to reproduce the sound of a live musical performance, typically in a room with good acoustics. It is widely agreed that reaching this goal is very difficult and that even the best-regarded recording and playback systems rarely, if ever, achieve it.

Early life

Gray in 1995 Macy gray.jpg
Gray in 1995

Natalie McIntyre was born in Canton, Ohio, [3] the daughter of Laura McIntyre, a math schoolteacher, [4] and Otis Jones who left when she was a baby. [5] Her stepfather was a steelworker, and she has a sister who would become a biology teacher. [5] She began piano lessons at age seven. [6] A childhood bicycle mishap resulted in her noticing a mailbox of a man named Macy Gray; she used the name in stories she wrote and later decided to use it as her stage name. [5]

Canton, Ohio City in Ohio, United States

Canton is a city in and the county seat of Stark County, Ohio, United States. Canton is located approximately 60 miles (97 km) south of Cleveland and 20 miles (32 km) south of Akron in Northeast Ohio. The city lies on the edge of Ohio's extensive Amish country, particularly in Holmes and Wayne counties to the city's west and southwest. Canton is the largest municipality in the Canton-Massillon, OH Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Stark and Carroll counties. As of the 2010 Census, the population was 73,007, making Canton eighth among Ohio cities in population.

Ohio State of the United States of America

Ohio is a Midwestern state in the Great Lakes region of the United States. Of the fifty states, it is the 34th largest by area, the seventh most populous, and the tenth most densely populated. The state's capital and largest city is Columbus.

Stage name pseudonym used by performing artist

A stage name is a pseudonym used by performers and entertainers, such as actors, comedians, singers and musicians. Such titles are adopted for a wide variety of reasons and may be similar or nearly identical to an individual's birth name. In some situations, a performer will eventually adopt his or her title as a legal name, although this is often not the case. Personal names or nicknames that make up the professional name should not necessarily be considered as a "fake name" like Lady Gaga : for example: Miley Cyrus: born Destiny Hope Cyrus, uses her personal nickname "Miley" and her maiden name "Cyrus" as her professional name.

Gray attended school with Brian Warner (later known as musician Marilyn Manson) although they did not know each other. [6] She attended more than one high school, including a boarding school which asked her to leave due to her behavior. [6] She graduated from Canton South High School in 1985.

Marilyn Manson American rock musician and actor

Brian Hugh Warner, known by his stage name Marilyn Manson, is an American singer, songwriter, actor, record producer, visual artist, author, and former music journalist. He is known for his controversial stage personality and image as the lead singer of the band Marilyn Manson, which he co-founded with guitarist Daisy Berkowitz and of which he remains the only constant member. Like other members of the band, his stage name was formed by combining and juxtaposing the names of two American pop cultural icons of the 1960s: actress Marilyn Monroe and criminal Charles Manson.

She attended college at the University of Southern California and studied scriptwriting. [5]

University of Southern California Private research university in Los Angeles, California, United States

The University of Southern California is a private research university in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 1880, it is the oldest private research university in California. For the 2018–19 academic year, there were 20,000 students enrolled in four-year undergraduate programs. USC also has 27,500 graduate and professional students in a number of different programs, including business, law, engineering, social work, occupational therapy, pharmacy, and medicine. It is the largest private employer in the city of Los Angeles, and generates $8 billion in economic impact on Los Angeles and California.

Musical career

While attending the University of Southern California, she agreed to write songs for a friend. A demo session was scheduled for the songs to be recorded by another singer, but the vocalist failed to appear, so Gray recorded them herself.

I started forming bands and writing songs just for fun and then I really got into it and got attached to it. Then a friend of mine asked me to be a singer in his jazz band. He gave me all these jazz CDs and I studied all these different singers and I kind of taught myself how to sing for a gig, but I didn't take it seriously until later. [6]

She then met writer-producer Joe Solo while working as a cashier in Beverly Hills. [7] Together, they wrote a collection of songs and recorded them in Solo's studio. The demo tape gave Gray the opportunity to sing at jazz cafés in Los Angeles. [8] Although Gray did not consider her unusual voice desirable for singing, [6] Atlantic Records signed her. She began recording her debut record but was dropped from the label upon the departure of A&R man Tom Carolan, who had signed her to the label. [9] Macy returned to Ohio but in 1997 Los Angeles based Zomba Publishing Senior 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. [10] [11] In 1998, she landed a record deal with Epic Records. [12] She performed on "Love Won't Wait", a song on the Black Eyed Peas' debut album Behind the Front . [13]

1999–2001: On How Life Is

Gray worked on her debut album in 1999 with producer Darryl Swann. [14] Released in the summer of 1999, On How Life Is became a worldwide smash. [15] 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. [16] "I Try" (which was originally featured in Love Jones and the Jennifer Aniston-starring romantic-comedy Picture Perfect in 1997) [17] was one of the biggest singles of 1999, [18] [19] and subsequent singles "Still" and "Why Didn't You Call Me" ensured the album became triple platinum in the US [20] and quadruple platinum in the UK. [21]

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". [22] 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 . [23] 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. [24]

2001–2005: The Id and The Trouble with Being Myself

Gray visiting the Astrodome as a volunteer, in Houston, Texas, September 3, 2005 FEMA - 14639 - Photograph by Ed Edahl taken on 09-04-2005 in Texas.jpg
Gray visiting the Astrodome as a volunteer, in Houston, Texas, September 3, 2005

Gray's The Id featured appearances by John Frusciante and Erykah Badu on the single "Sweet Baby" (which was co-written with longtime collaborator Joe Solo). [25] The album peaked at number eleven on the Billboard 200. [26] It fared even better in the UK, where it reached number one on the UK Albums Chart and was certified gold by the BPI. [27] The underperformance in the United States, compared to her debut album, may have been due to The Id being released just a week after the September 11, 2001 attacks. [28]

In 2002, she appeared in Spider-Man and contributed a remix of her song "My Nutmeg Phantasy" to its accompanying soundtrack. Gray also worked with Santana on the track "Amoré (Sexo)", for his album Shaman . [29] [30]

Also in 2002, she appeared on the Red Hot Organization's compilation CD in tribute to Nigerian Afropop pioneer Fela Kuti, Red Hot and Riot . She appeared on a remake of Kuti's classic track "Water No Get Enemy" alongside prominent neo soul, hip hop and R&B artists, D'Angelo, the Soultronics, Nile Rodgers, Roy Hargrove, and Kuti's son, Femi Kuti.[ citation needed ]

She recorded a duet with Zucchero called "Like the Sun (From Out of Nowhere)", which featured Jeff Beck on guitar released in 2004 on Zu & Co. , a duets collection. [31] [32] Her song "Time of My Life" was included in the soundtrack to 8 Mile. [33] A cartoon based on Gray's childhood was being developed, but it never came to fruition. [14] [30]

In 2003, Gray released her third studio album, The Trouble with Being Myself , to rave reviews.[ citation needed ] The lead single, "When I See You", became a radio hit in the US and a top forty hit in the UK, although the album was not as well received by fans. [34] Nevertheless, it became Gray's third top twenty album in the UK. [35] [36] A greatest hits collection and a live album were subsequently released: The Very Best of Macy Gray (2004) and Live in Las Vegas (2005). Additionally, Gray was featured on Marcus Miller's 2005 album Silver Rain , on a cover of Prince's 1986 song "Girls & Boys". She also appeared on the soundtrack to the film Chicago with Queen Latifah and Lil' Kim on "Cell Block Tango/He Had it Comin'." [37]

2007–2010: Return to music and Big

Gray performing in Toronto, July 23, 2008 Macy Gray 2008.07.23 020.jpg
Gray performing in Toronto, July 23, 2008

Gray began 2007 by being kicked off-stage at a concert in Barbados for profanity (which was part of the show), but she was not aware that it was against the law in that country. [38] She gave a public apology that night to avoid arrest. [39]

In March, Gray released her fourth studio album (sixth overall), Big . [40] Two singles, "Finally Made Me Happy" and "Shoo Be Doo", were released from the album. [39] "What I Gotta Do", another track from the album, is featured on the Shrek the Third soundtrack. It has been considered Gray's comeback album, after a four-year hiatus since her last studio album. [41] The album was critically acclaimed and seen by some as her best work to date. [42] It features collaborations with Natalie Cole, Fergie, Justin Timberlake, and, who co-executive produced the album with Gray. It was moderately successful in the US, where it debuted and peaked at number 39 on the Billboard 200, becoming Gray's highest-charting album since The Id. [43] Big reached number 62 on the albums chart in the UK, [44] her lowest-charting UK album, but it achieved some success in several other countries, including Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and Finland, reaching the Top 40 on their album charts. [45]

PBS's Soundstage live concert series premiered a Gray concert on July 5. [46]

Gray performing at the Live Earth Brazil concert at Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro on July 7, 2007 Macy Gray at Live Earth Brazil 2007.jpg
Gray performing at the Live Earth Brazil concert at Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro on July 7, 2007

On July 7, 2007, Gray performed at the Brazilian leg of Live Earth at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. [47] Gray and her band members wore clothes bearing political messages. Gray's dress carried the message "Darfur Red Alert".

In 2008, Gray launched a new campaign under the name " Nemesis Jaxson", with the single "Slap a Bitch". [48]

Early in 2009, Gray recorded the song "Don't Forget Me" for the soundtrack of Confessions of a Shopaholic . [49]

2010–2011: The Sellout

The first single from Gray's fifth studio album The Sellout , "Beauty in the World", is featured in the final sequence of the series finale, "Hello Goodbye", of the ABC television series, Ugly Betty . "Beauty in the World" was also used as the theme in multiple videos created by Microsoft to promote Internet Explorer 9.[ citation needed ] Both singles released from the album ("Beauty in the World" and "Lately") were top 10 hits on the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs Chart.[ citation needed ]

Upon its release, The Sellout received generally mixed reviews from most music critics. Metacritic gave it an average score of 57, based on 15 reviews; [50] Andy Gill of The Independent gave it three out of five stars; while AllMusic writer John Bush shared a similar sentiment and panned Gray's songwriting. [51]

However, The Boston Globe 's James Reed commended its production, [52] and Jeremy Allen of NME gave the album a 7/10 rating. [53]

2011–2015: Covered, Talking Book, and The Way

Gray performs live at the 54th Ljubljana Jazz Festival in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on July 6, 2013 Macy Gray in Ljubljana, Slovenia by Jan Prunk (2013).JPG
Gray performs live at the 54th Ljubljana Jazz Festival in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on July 6, 2013

In 2011, Gray signed a deal with 429 Records and started recording a series of covers for her next studio album Covered . The album was officially released on March 26, 2012. The album's first single was "Here Comes the Rain Again" (originally performed by Eurythmics). [54] On February 16, 2012, Gray participated in the Sanremo Festival as a guest, performing alongside Gigi D'Alessio and Loredana Bertè. [55]

For the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Stevie Wonder album Talking Book , Gray covered the entire record and released her Talking Book as a tribute. [56]

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey's Where Are They Now, Gray opened up about her problems with drug abuse, stating that she was ill-prepared for the level of fame she received. The interview coincided with the release of her album The Way , released in October 2014 on Kobalt Records. A world tour was announced shortly after its release. [57]

2016: Stripped

In 2016, Gray's career continued with an album produced by Chesky Records, the record label founded by Grammy-nominated composer and musician David Chesky. Stripped was released September 9, 2016 and garnered unanimous praise from critics. The album debuted at #3 on the Billboard Jazz Chart. [1] Earlier that year, she was featured on Ariana Grande's song "Leave Me Lonely" from her third studio album Dangerous Woman .

Other work

Gray appeared in the eighth season of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown , playing for Habitat for Humanity. She finished in third place. [58]

In 2001, she was the voice for Seeiah Owens in the video game SSX Tricky . [59] [60]

Gray sang the theme song for the Nickelodeon animated series As Told by Ginger , composed by Jared Faber and Emily Kapnek. [61]

Gray also performed the song on the short-lived UPN romantic comedy Second Time Around starring Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker in 2004.

In August 2008, Gray headlined at the 2008 Summer Sundae music festival in Leicester, England, performing cover versions of Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?", Deee-Lite's "Groove Is in the Heart" and Radiohead's "Creep". [62] For the gig, her band wore pink Andy Warhol wigs. [63]

On September 28, 2008, Gray sang the American national anthem as part of the Israeli flag-raising ceremony at the Israeli consulate of Los Angeles. [64] [65]

In 2008, Gray collaborated with Australian DJ and singer Kaz James on the song "Can't Hold Back". The single was released in early 2009 in Australia and is credited to Kaz James featuring Macy Gray. [66]

In 2009, Gray briefly competed in season 9 of Dancing with the Stars with professional partner Jonathan Roberts. They were eliminated in a double elimination in week one.

In 2012, she performed the Michael Jackson song "Rock with You" for a special performance of the West End musical Thriller – Live for BBC Children in Need Pop Goes the Musical.

In 2015, Gray was featured on the song "Into the Deep" by Galactic. [67]

In 2016, Gray was featured on the song “Leave Me Lonely” by Ariana Grande

In 2018, Gray is featured alongside Dolly Parton on a re-recording of "Two Doors Down" for the Dumplin' soundtrack.

Personal life

Gray was married to Tracy Hinds, a mortgage broker, for about four years, but they divorced when her career was about to begin. [5] They have three children: [21] Aanisah, Mel, and Happy. [5]

She opened the Macy Gray Music Academy in 2005. [68]


Studio albums


List of television, video game and films credits
2000 Ally McBeal HerselfEpisode: "Hope and Glory"
2000—2001 Saturday Night Live Herself2 episodes
2001 SSX Tricky Seeiah Owens (voice)Video game
2001 Training Day Sandman's Woman
2002MDsJessEpisode: "Wing and a Prayer"
2002 Spider-Man HerselfCameo
2003 Scary Movie 3 HerselfCameo
2003Gang of RosesAssassin
2003When I Was a GirlHerselfEpisode: "Singers"
2004 Around the World in 80 Days Sleepy Frenchwoman
2004Lightning in a BottleHerselfCameo
2004 American Dreams Carla Thomas Episode: "Real-to-Reel"
2004 That's So Raven RhondaEpisode: "Taken to the Cleaners"
2004 Blue's Clues HerselfEpisode: "Bluestock"
2005 Lackawanna Blues PaulineTV movie
2005 The Crow: Wicked Prayer Carman
2005 Shadowboxer Neisha
2005 Domino Lashandra Davis
2005 Duck Dodgers Diva (voice)Episode: "Diva Delivery/Castle High"
2005 American Dragon: Jake Long Trixie's Grandmother/Miss Jenkinks (voice)2 episodes
2005 1-800-Missing CleoEpisode: "A Death in the Family"
2006 Idlewild Taffy
2007Macy Gray's Big SpecialHerself
2009 Dancing with the Stars Contestant on season 9
2009 Head Case Episode: "The Wedding Ringer"
2010 For Colored Girls Rose / Lady in Pink Black Reel Award for Best Ensemble
2012 Percentage Mama CashPost-production
2012 The Paperboy Anita Chester
2013Mama Black WidowHattie MaeAnnounced
2014The Grim SleeperMargette
2015 Brotherly Love Mrs. Taylor
2015November RuleAunt Hildi (Hildiguard)
2015Where Children PlayHelen Harrold
2016 Fuller House HerselfEpisode: "Funner House"
2016 Papa Agent Sterling
2016 Cardboard Boxer Den Mother

Awards and nominations

Gray won five of seventeen nominations, including Grammy Awards, MTV Video Music Awards and Brit Awards.

Black Reel Awards 2011 For Colored Girls Best Ensemble Won
Brit Awards 2000 Macy Gray International Breakthrough Act Won
International Female Solo Artist Won
Grammy Awards 2000 Best New Artist Nominated
"Do Something" Best Female R&B Vocal Performance Nominated
2001 "I Try" Record of the Year Nominated
Song of the Year Nominated
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Won
MTV Europe Music Awards 2000 On How Life Is Best Album Nominated
MTV Video Music Awards 2000 "I Try" Best New Artist Won
Best Female Video Nominated
"Do Something" Best Art Direction Nominated
Best Cinematography Won
2001 "Geto Heaven Remix T.S.O.I. (The Sound of Illadelph)" (with Common) Breakthrough Video Nominated
"Request + Line" (with The Black Eyed Peas) Best Hip-Hop Video Nominated
NAACP Image Awards 2006 Lackawanna Blues Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Nominated
Soul Train Music Awards 2000 On How Life Is Best R&B/Soul Album, Female Nominated
Teen Choice Awards 2000 Macy Gray Female Artist Nominated
Q Awards 1999Best New ActNominated
Pollstar Concert Industry Awards2001Best New Artist TourWon
Independent Music Awards2017 Stripped Best Album: Jazz with VocalsWon
MVPA Awards2000"I Try"Best Adult Contemporary VideoWon
Billboard Music Video Awards "Why Didn't You Call Me"Best New Artist Clip - PopWon
NME Awards [70] Macy GrayBest New ActNominated
Best Solo ArtistNominated
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist for "I Try"
Succeeded by
Alicia Keys
Preceded by
Natalie Imbruglia
Brit Award for International Female Solo Artist
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Natalie Imbruglia
Brit Award for International Breakthrough Act
Succeeded by
Preceded by
"I Will Remember You (Live)" by Sarah McLachlan
Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "I Try"
Succeeded by
"I'm Like a Bird" by Nelly Furtado

See also

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<i>Stripped</i> (Macy Gray album) 2016 studio album by Macy Gray

Stripped is the ninth studio album recorded by American singer-songwriter Macy Gray. It was released on September 9, 2016 on Chesky Records label. Although Gray's vocals had often been compared to jazz vocalists, Stripped is her first overtly jazz album and features live-in-the-studio recording techniques and accompaniment by leading jazz instrumentalists. The album debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart.


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