Macy Gray already feels the impact of her two Grammy nominations

January 27, 2000|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

When a musician insists that it's an honor just to have been nominated for a Grammy award, it's easy to suspect that what you're hearing is simply the sound of false modesty. But as Macy Gray explains, there's definitely an advantage to having been nominated.

Since it was announced earlier this month that Gray is up for two Grammys -- including the Best New Artist award -- business has been booming for the young R&B singer. "Just a lot of stuff started coming up," she says, over the phone from a tour stop in Tempe, Ariz.

"I noticed that when we got the nomination, a couple of the venues [on our tour] got bigger, because there were more people wanting to see us. And all these TV shows came in. We got Rosie O'Donnell and Conan, and Letterman again, and Leno.

"I've been getting movie scripts. I got a soundtrack offer. So it does help a lot," says the 29-year old singer/songwriter. "The Grammy people definitely have a lot to do with pushing your career. Especially if you're new."

Gray admits to having been floored by her nominations. "I had no idea," she says. "Like, [the Grammy people] invited me to announce the nominations, right? My label told me that they usually don't do that unless you're nominated. But just the fact that they said 'usually' made me think, 'Well . . .' "

She laughs, and adds, "It's much easier for me to hope for the worst. Because I don't want to get my hopes up.

"So I didn't really count on it, and when I went in there and they said my name, and I was totally shocked. Like my whole stomach dropped. I couldn't believe it. And then when they announced me for two, I was really floored."

Gray says that the nomination for Best New Artist was actually less surprising than the nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, where she's contending with the likes of Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston, Faith Evans and Brandy.

"That was really great," she says. "I'm really proud of that one."

Gray is especially pleased because her sound is unlike anybody else in R&B today. Her voice is tart, with a slight rasp recalling Al Green, while her writing is more playful and eclectic than anyone since Prince. It's a striking combination and something Gray says is a natural product of her growth as a musician.

"I don't try to do what everybody else does. I think I just grow," she says. "I've always had this voice. But I think, subconsciously, the more music you hear, the more it affects you.

"Like, I remember when Nirvana came out, and all of a sudden I wanted to use guitars in my music. You hear stuff, and you think, 'Well, that's cool,' and it kind of embellishes your sound."

Macy Gray

When: Tuesday, Feb. 1, 8 p.m. (Doors open at 7)

Where: The Recher Theatre, 512 York Road, Towson

Tickets: $17.50

Call: 410-337-7178

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