Celebrity Buzz

Macy Gray Making Jazz Magic

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Macy Gray is one of the few singers with a voice so distinctive that her songs are almost immediately recognizable.

She headlined “An Evening With Women” earlier this year, one of the biggest fundraisers for LA Gay & Lesbian Center youth, elderly and homeless programs, proving she can still bring an entire ballroom full of people to its feet.

On Sept. 9, Gray releases her Chesky Records debut, a jazz-infused album titled “Stripped,” recorded live in an old Brooklyn church with one microphone.

It’s a bare-bones approach to a collection of new original songs, covers and altered arrangements on a handful of her classic hits.

The new song “Annabelle,” which Gray calls “one of my favorite” on the album, was premiered by Billboard in August. (CLICK HERE to listen to “Annabelle”)

“It speaks to all the suffering you go through when you’re trying to quit a habit,” she told Billboard. “At the same time the mood of the song inspires a craving for a big fat joint.”

The album was recorded in just two days, with veteran jazz players including drummer Ari Hoenig (Joshua Redman), trumpeter Wallace Roney (Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis), guitarist Russell Malone (Diana Krall), and bassist Daryl Johns.

Johns, who met Gray the day before recording began, had such a rapport with the singer that they co-wrote “Lucy” during the recording session. It became one of three new songs on the album (the others are “Annabelle” and “The Heart”).

“I Try” is among Gray’s hit songs reworked for “Stripped.” She won a Grammy for that song from her first album, “On How Life Is” (1999). The others are “Sweet Baby,” “Slowly,” “The First Time,” and “She Ain’t Right for You.” She also covers Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” and shifts gears for Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters.”

An Ohio native who moved to California for college, Gray began singing in her 20s. She’s also had small acting roles on TV and film (“Training Day,” “Shadowboxer”), and made cameo appearances as herself (“Spider-Man,” “Ally McBeal”). She’s been nominated for five Grammys, as well as numerous other music awards.

“Stripped” is available on AmazoniTunes, and HDtracks. For more about Macy Gray see her website.

Journalist Laurie Schenden covers the entertainment industry, with many of her notable celebrity interviews appearing in the Los Angeles Times and other national and international publications. As a longtime columnist and feature writer for the LA Times, she also covered events and California destinations for the lifestyle, Outdoors and Travel sections. Laurie Schenden's international pieces include the long-running Where Are They Now celebrity feature for Spotlight Magazine, published in five languages. Laurie has also contributed to numerous documentary films, and produces content via Saving Grace Films.

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