Over the last two decades, Macy Gray’s raspy, soulful tunes have gained her acclaim globally on the music scene. This fall, the veteran songstress is readying for her tenth LP, Ruby, with appreciable production by several guests.
Still, upon the announcement of her record sales exceeding 25 million worldwide, the artist shifted gears for her 2016 Chesky Records debut, Stripped. Listeners of Stripped were captivated by Gray’s offering of jazzy covers of classics like Bob Marley and The Wailers’, “Redemption Song,” and even a revamp of her Grammy awarded breakout-hit “I Try.” Now, while her last album was critically-acclaimed, fans are anxious to press play on more of the songsters’ outlandishly colorful original music. Ruby — which will be released under Artistry Music, a Mack Avenue label — will unravel a bevy of gritty R&B tracks that fans have been longing for.
Gray connected with Billboard to chat about Ruby’s unique soundscapes, touring the states and Europe with her live band, the significance of artists acknowledging their influence and utilizing their platforms responsibly, and why returning to the spotlight has been therapeutic. Check out why our eyes are glued and ears are lent to all things Macy Gray.
What can fans anticipate sonically with this forthcoming album?
Sonically, it is beautiful. It has all sorts of [fusions]. There are a lot of live instruments. We mixed it with samples. We had a ball. But, it is very different. At the same time, it is excellent ear candy. It is actually very pop. Still, it is gritty and grimy and dirty. [The record] will be super R&B. You know, with my stuff, there is always a jazz element. That is what I grew up on. I can’t wait for everybody to hear it. I love it.
The re-release of your 2001 audiovisual “Sweet Baby” featuring Erykah Badu began buzzing the top of the year again. When will we see more music videos from you?
We actually just wrapped one up. I want to tell you the title, but I don’t know if I can! Anyway, there is a visual for it, and it’s coming out at the end of the month. The video is staring Evan Ross. I can’t wait for you to see it.
On Twitter, you announced that you have two upcoming NYC shows scheduled for later this month. Do you have anything special planned for your Opry City Stage performances?
Yeah, it is a brand new venue. So, of course, we are going to take in some new songs from the album. And, New York is always a good crowd, but a tough crowd. So, you have to work hard in New York City. It is going to be a great show. We are going to be ready for them!
Your Instagram post of you wearing the hat that read “Make Kanye Great Again” shook up fans. What responsibility do you feel artists have regarding their influence?
Well, you have a great responsibility. There are going to be a lot of people, who because they like your art, they are interested in what you have to say, and where you are coming from. They see your art and feel that they can relate to you. So, your influence, what you have to say and the direction that you point people into matters. They already feel like they are connected to you, you know?
Well, you do not have to be a role model, but you do have to recognize that you do have a voice. And, that it matters to people, and [your voice] affects things. The things you say and the things you do, once you get to that level, it [can change] things massively.
Now that you’re gearing up to release new music, will there be more tour dates associated with Ruby?
Oh, yeah! We are going to go crazy. We do this short New York and D.C. run. Then, we are going to go kind of around the states in August and September. We are going to do a real tour, [then head to] Europe in October and November.
What do you hope resonates with your listeners in conjunction with all you’re working on?
Mostly, my album! I think when you make a good record, you do magical things to people. The listeners feel better, and see things better [with a solid LP]. Some people [even] understand their relationship better. [Laughs] The album is therapeutic, and it is a good joint. So, I hope my new collection reaches a lot of people. I really think everybody is going to dig it. And, I hope it makes people happy.
I am already back in the studio working on more stuff, and I’m just writing a lot. I am really on fire music-wise. So, that is something you can definitely count on: a lot more music.
Don’t miss Macy Gray’s upcoming shows.
05/23 – The Studio at Opry City Stage – New York, NY – TICKETS
05/24 – The Studio at Opry City Stage – New York, NY – TICKETS
05/25 – Bethesda Blues & Jazz Club – Bethesda, MD – TICKETS
05/26 – Bethesda Blues & Jazz Club – Bethesda, MD – TICKETS