Reasons for Pride in 2012, Part 2
BY Advocate Contributors
May 16 2012 4:00 AM ET
Because in Macy Gray’s case, hiding in the closet sounds sexy
Admit it—you probably have sung along to Colbie Caillat’s “Bubbly” when in the early stages of love, or “Creep” by Radiohead while feeling a little more damaged inside. So has Macy Gray. Her new album, Covered, is filled with, well, other people’s songs, making an album that’s not only eclectic and adventurous but clearly a reflection of the artist herself.
“Of course I’m a fan of all those songs,” Gray says of her new album, which includes the aforementioned as well as “Love Lockdown” by Kanye West and “Here Comes the Rain Again” by the Eurythmics. They key to choosing the right songs for this album, she says, was finding tunes that she could spin in her own peculiar, dark, twisty kind of way, using her signature raspy voice.
In fact, Covered seems particularly dark. As Gray says, the tone is akin to “hiding in a dark closet.”
It’s been two years since Gray released The Sellout, in which the title track takes a dig at the music industry, in tumult as artists grapple with reduced album sales, a heavily reliance on revenue from touring, and piracy. But Gray can’t be held down. Filmmakers are increasingly captivated by Gray’s uniqueness, prompting them to cast her in movies including Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls and gay director Lee Daniels’s upcoming The Paperboy. Gray has a particular affinity for Daniels, whose own success with Precious nearly won him an Academy Award in 2010.
“He’s really awesome,” she says. “He’s different. He’s loud. He wants to get exactly what he wants. He’s really an extraordinary guy, and a very interesting guy. He’s probably one of the most open people I’ve met. He’s not afraid to talk about anything.”
The film, starring Zac Efron, John Cusack, Matthew McConaughey, and Nicole Kidman, is about a journalist who has been tasked with returning to his hometown in Florida to investigate a case involving a death row inmate. Being on set with Kidman was by far the most memorable thing about the shoot.
“I just remember I couldn’t keep my eyes off Nicole Kidman,” Gray says. “I was just starstruck, and I haven’t been starstruck in a long time. I think I freaked her out.”
Gray isn’t one to conform to what everyone expects of her. With big, natural hair, outlandish outfits, and her love of Metallica, Gray happily defies her persona as simply a soul singer. Gray sees the soul in bands like Sublime and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, because in the end, good songwriting is at the core of what she does. While some of her works are particularly popular at LGBT events, Gray says her songwriting — and in the case of Covered, song selection—knows no gender when it comes to audience. Men and women, straight, gay, and in between can all smell what Gray is cooking. Still she can’t help but feel a connection to the LGBT community.
“I have a lot of gay people in my life, so it never occurred to me to not support [gay rights] or discriminate, or have any kind of separatism. And it’s a very powerful community in music. And we’ve all been gay on occasion, you know?” she says with a laugh. “I always support any fight against separatism or discrimination.” —Michelle Garcia