Macy Gray exploded onto the music scene at the turn of the millennium with her song "I Try" and she has never looked back. Her raspy voice gives each genre of music an extra dimension, whether she is singing jazz, R&B or soul. And that voice has made audiences of all colors from around the world flock to her concerts. VOA's Larry London sat down with Macy Gray recently to ask her about her life and her music.
Macy Gray is the lady with the big hair. . . and even bigger hits.
And her hit, "I Try,” recorded in 1999, always has audiences signing along.
Even her fans overseas, which don't speak English, join in. Macy Gray recalls an incident. "We went to Turkey once and I remember there were these two fans right in front the whole show and they knew every single word and they stared at me the whole time. They were totally in awe of the show. And then they somehow got backstage after the show, didn't speak a word of English, not one word, all they knew is, "I love you Macy Gray," and they tried to kiss me."
The fans love her now. But she says, growing up in Canton, Ohio was not easy. She was singled out as being different. Self-described as a goofy kid, she says she was picked on. "For my voice, my big feet, and I was really tall, really tall and skinny when I was a kid and I had a lot of hair, that I didn't know how to comb yet. My hair was always all over the place. So I was one of those goofy kids that always got picked on."
Back then her name was Natalie McIntyre. She eventually adopted the name Macy Gray, from an elderly neighbor. "I was riding my bike and I fell and I looked up and I was under a mailbox and it said Macy Gray on it. So I was a kid, and from then on, like when I would write stories for class, I always had a character named Macy Gray. It was just a name that stuck with me."
And with that name and a raspy voice she got a lot of attention. "I believe that music can save your life. Because I took piano and my mother was always putting me in like creative atmospheres, you know, and it really, had everything to do with who I became and the fact that, you know, I was able to do, make my dreams come true."
And since music saved her life, she is now giving back to those less fortunate.
"We built this school and it's going really great. And we're like really reaching out to the inner-city, with kids who are from low income, troubled families, and getting them into the school, so it's a great thing."
Macy Gray, talented, outlandish, with big hair and a big heart. Her new album, called "Big,” will debut in September.