The Arizona Republic
Macy Gray plans new album release for 2021
It’s hard to imagine that 21 years have passed since Macy Gray rose to fame with the hit single titled “I Try” that introduced her unmistakable, raspy singing voice to the world.
“I’m crazy excited. Things are starting to get a little hectic,” Gray (real name: Natalie McIntyre) told me in her first interview for Ticket magazine in August 1999.
She had just performed on “Late Night with David Letterman,” her video was a top request on MTV and she’d been featured in the pages of Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly and the New Yorker. Her debut album, “On How Life Is,” went on to sell 7 million copies worldwide.
Following are excerpts from my telephone conversation with Gray, 50, who was at home in the Los Angeles area.
Q: It’s been ages since we last talked. Are you still in that 26-room mansion?
A: We’ve been here for seven years. It’s not the same house as when I talked to you before. That was ridiculous. No offense to the super-rich, but it’s such a waste of space. There’s no way you can use all those rooms, and the upkeep is insane. So now we live much smaller. I love my new house and every corner of it is used all the time. You know, I’m from Ohio. That’s my mentality. This is me right here.
Q: What’s life like out there with the fires going on?
A: That first run of fires about a month ago, there was literally soot in the air blocking the sun. I would think it was almost dark and it was only 3 in the afternoon. It was crazy. But it cleared up, and now the fires have started back so I don’t know what we’re going to do out here.
Q: Are you still making records?
A: Of course. I’ve got a new album coming out on Valentine’s Day 2021.
Q: What’s the sound like on this one? Anything new?
A: I think this time we just went more for a mood. When you go in the studio, you want to make history. You want to make the greatest song that ever was and you want to touch people. But I think with this record, it was just about making people feel good and putting a smile on people’s faces. It’s really great. I love it. I’m listening to it nonstop.
Q: How old are your kids now and what are they up to?
A: Twenty-two, 23 and 24. My son is actually just putting a record out. My youngest daughter is a photographer. She’s super young but she’s done a couple of magazine shoots, and she’s got a job with LifeTouch, the people who do all the school pictures. My oldest works for a food company and she does all their graphic art. They’re doing pretty good. When I was their age, I wasn’t do
writing songs and ing any of that.
Q: I’m curious: What music were you listening to in high school?
A: That was the ’80s, when MTV came out and I started hearing different kinds of music. At first, I was all about R&B and soul because that’s what my parents listened to, and I remember my mom was a big Elvis fan. But MTV only played rock ‘n’ roll and pop at first. I was obsessed with those videos so I knew all those songs.
Q: Me too! Billy Idol and Culture Club and all that stuff.
A: Exactly! I can sing every Billy Idol song. It was a good time to be young because everything was out. The superstars of my generation were like Madonna, Michael Jackson, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Whitney Houston, so we got a taste of everything. Sade was a superstar. LL Cool J was huge and he was rap. There was all kinds of music and all of it was shining.
Q: Are you recognized everywhere you go?
A: Oh yeah. People still start singing the song (“I Try”). That’s so annoying but only because I wish they would sing another of my songs, not only that one! They shout at me like they know me – “Hey Mace!” It’s cool. It’s fun.