Photos / Kristy Benjamin
Styling /Quentin Fears @Scout Creatives
Makeup / Brandy Allen
Hair / Vernon Francois @ The Visionaries Agency
Story / Robert Frezza
R&B soul singer Macy Gray has been in the music business since the mid-1990s. Her tenth studio album, Ruby, sees her delving into new revelations and learning more about herself. “I just like to write about what I know and what’s going on in the moment. I didn’t really go into the studio with a specific theme or idea for this album,” says Gray.
Macy Gray grew up in the Midwest. It took her a while to soak up all the success. “I think I was so shocked I didn’t take it in until later in my career. My mother didn’t foresee entertainment as a career for me. She and my dad drove up to a venue where I was playing in Philadelphia and there was a line around the block. Next door there was a Starbucks and they thought the line was for that and couldn’t believe there was such a long line to get coffee. In reality, they were lined up to see me perform. I think everyone in my family was blown away by my success because no one was expecting it from me,” said Gray.
Gray stays grounded through today’s chaos by watching the news, although she does admit it can be a bit too much at times. “I actually watch CNN, but they spend a lot of time on one thing and you have to turn channels. It’s something we have no control over that much anymore. It’s a wild time for everyone I think.”
The songstress has her hand involved with many projects and organizations today. “I have a Cannabis line that’s crafted for women. I think Cannabis is going to be much more regulated in the future than it actually is right now,” says Gray. “My Good Organization is also another idea that I came up with this year. Instead of going to a hospital or rehab we plan on having outlets or camps for children with mental illnesses so that they can be in an environment that helps and deals with what they are going through. There is also the Jazz Foundation that takes care of people’s rent, delivers food, etc. The Jazz Foundation connects musicians in medical crisis who need rent money or medical payments.”
Gray admits the music industry has changed since she’s started. “Back in the day it was put out the singles, sell the album, go on tour. Now it’s all about the single and streaming. There are different goals now. It’s a different way of making music. I remember when branding and commercials were a big deal. Today that’s everyone’s bread and butter. It’s completely different now.”
Gray, world renown for her singing, also has dabbled in acting even though she didn’t want to be involved in it at first. Following the 2001 blockbuster movie, Training Day, she received many offers, including another role in Outkast’s Idlewild. “I really enjoy it, but I always have a hard time calling myself a serious actress. My number one is making music,” Gray bashfully says.
Gray lists her mother, Bob Marley, Sammy Davis Jr., and P. Diddy as some of her heroes, but the list goes on and on. Gray, though, will be forever etched in history as a major musical hero not only in the R&B genre but also in the music and entertainment industry, itself. She paved the way for many and still illustrates that until this day with her the amount of love and abundance she gives back to her community.