A GoPride Interview

Macy Gray

Macy Gray has it covered at Milwaukee PrideFest 2014

Fri. June 6, 2014  by Gregg Shapiro

It's an awesome show and we always have a ball.
Macy Gray
Singer/songwriter and actress Macy Gray hit it big with her infectious hit single "I Try," earning a Grammy Award for the track in 2000. Since then she has released six more studio albums, including two in 2012 (Covered and Talking Book) on which she applied her distinctive style to tunes by Stevie Wonder, Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Metallica and others. Gray has also acted in several high-profile film projects including Training Day, Shadowboxer and For Colored Girls, to mention a few. Gray is among the artists scheduled to perform on the Miller Lite Mainstage at the 2014 Milwaukee PrideFest, on June 7.

GS: (Gregg Shapiro) Your first album, On How Life Is, contained the huge hit single "I Try," for which you won a Grammy in 2000. What did winning that Grammy award mean to you?

MG: (Macy Gray) It's everything. It's really incredible. It's awesome, especially when you get nominated because all you want to do is win. It's better not to be nominated [laughs]. It was cool to be there and to be recognized.

GS: Do you have place of honor for your Grammy?

MG: Yes! It's actually right in front of me. It's in my living room, with my other awards, in a case.

GS: As a singer known for performing original material, you released a pair of albums in 2012, Covered and Talking Book, in which you interpreted other people's songs. What led you to those projects?

MG: It was something that I always wanted to try but my label was never into it because cover records historically don't do that well. Originally and creatively, it was on hold a little bit. I wouldn't say it was just for fun, but we had a ball doing it. It was like an experiment, something we wanted to try.

GS: Marijuana legalization is gaining ground in a variety of states across the US. Your new single "Stoned," as well as "Smoke Two Joints" (from Covered), are a couple of indications that you might benefit from such legislation.

MG: As far as legalization (is concerned), I'm kind of on the fence about it. I don't know if it's something the government should be in control of. It's such a culture. You have your own dealer and they deliver and they can give it to you on credit some times. I have friends that it would put out of work. It kind of takes the fun out of it. There are some states that made a lot of money (from it), but we don't know what they do with the money. Where is it going? I kind of like the marijuana culture. It's a whole underground thing that supports a lot of people who would probably be put out of work. I don't know yet. What do you think?

GS: It is its own little cottage industry. Government involvement would take it to a different level.

MG: Yeah. First they're going to tax it. It's going to be weird.

GS: In addition to making music, you have also had a prolific acting career. What do you like best about acting?

MG: I love being on set. I love creating characters. I love taking what's on paper and turning it into a real person. It's a major collaborative effort, so I always make good friends on the set. There's always a lot of people around doing incredible things you didn't even know could be done. I love the process of it. Of course, I love watching movies. But the process is always fun and challenging. It gets me

into something I haven't done before and that I'm not sure I can do yet. It always challenges me creatively.

GS: Are there any new movies coming out that your fans should be watching for?

MG: Yes. I'm doing an HBO movie. There are a couple coming out that I did last year. One's called Brotherly Love and one's called November Rule. I also did Lee Daniels' new TV show, but I don't know when that comes out.

GS: In June, you will be performing at Milwaukee PrideFest. Have you always

been aware of a following in the LGBT community?

MG: Oh, yes. We've always had. I could see it at my shows. I did a song called "Sexual Revolution" and it was on after that. It's cool. It's such a massive audience now. I think it's important as a musician. It's not like it used to be. It's not like, "Oh my God, a bunch of gays showed up at my show. What does that mean?" Now, it's necessary, because they're such a massive audience.

GS: Have you ever performed or spent time in Milwaukee?

MG: I performed there once. We were only there for a day. I've never been much to Milwaukee and I don't know much about it, unfortunately, except for beer [laughs] and the Bucks.

GS: What do your fans have to look forward to with your Milwaukee PrideFest performance?

MG: It'll be a really awesome mixture of all my albums and a couple of new ones that no one has heard. My new album comes out late this year. It's cool. It's an awesome show and we always have a ball.

PrideFest Milwaukee returns June 6, 7 and 8 on the Henry Maier Festival (Summerfest) Grounds. Single-day admission prices will be $13 in advance, $16 at the gate. Information and tickets available at pridefest.com.

Interviewed by Gregg Shapiro. Gregg Shapiro is both a literary figure and a music and literary critic. As an entertainment journalist, his work appears on ChicagoPride.com and is syndicated nationally.


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