Macy Gray is a pop and jazz singer known for her unique voice and colorful persona. She was born Natalie McIntyre on September 6, 1967, in Canton, Ohio. Her mother, Laura McIntyre, was a math teacher and her father, Otis Jones, was absent throughout her life. As a child, she was timid and frequently teased for her raspy and high-pitched voice. However, she was also very creative, learned classical piano, and wrote music. Her love for hip-hop and old-school soul also fed her musical interests. Despite getting an offer to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in 1985, McIntyre chose to pursue film at the University of Southern California (USC).
While attending USC, a friend offered McIntyre the singing part on his jazz demo. McIntyre, who at the time had begun going by the name Macy Gray (which she took from one of her father’s colleagues), took advantage and used this as an opportunity to jump-start her musical career. She began singing the lead for a local band and performing at gigs in hotels and nightclubs around the city. Gray left USC in 1989 and fully committed herself to build a music career.
After hearing Gray’s demo tapes, Atlantic Records gave her a deal in 1994. She recorded an album with the label but it was never released, and the label eventually dropped her. She moved back to Canton in 1997 to become a teacher, but a music producer convinced her to go back to Los Angeles. She signed with Epic Records and her first album, On How Life Is, was released in 1999. It took a while for the album to gain popularity, but following the success of her song “I Try” the next year, it earned much critical acclaim. The album was nominated for three Grammys and became triple platinum by the end of 2000, selling more than 3 million copies.
On How Life Is was followed by The Id (2001), which reached as high as no. 11 on the Billboard charts and was certified gold (selling 500,000 copies). Gray also started acting in movies, playing minor roles in films such as Training Day and Spider-Man. Following the release of her third big album, The Trouble of Being Myself (2003), Gray switched from Epic records to Geffen. Following a four-year hiatus, Gray released her fourth album, titled Big, in 2007. Since then, Gray has moved between numerous labels and has contributed to many projects, including solo projects “The Way” (2014), “Stripped” (2016), and “Ruby” (2018). Most recently, Gray contributed vocals to Busty and the Bass’s song “Out of Love” in 2020.
Gray was married to Tracey Hinds until divorcing in 1997. Together, they have three children: Aanisah, Tahmel, and Happy.