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Macy Gray: Anything But a Conventional Talent

2006-07-23 16:44

  Macy Gray is one of those vocalists that leave fans and critics alike scratching their heads in search of not just superlatives1, but valid2 comparisons3. Gray isn't imitative of anyone in particular, though, but like some of those singers, her eccentricities4 are what you notice first. She's anything but a conventional talent.

  Gray was born in Canton, Ohio. Her father was a steelworker, her mother an eighth-grade math teacher. When she was young, she thought that her voice sounded funny——no arguments there from the neighborhood kids, who tormented5 her to the point where she simply stopped talking. Singing seemed even further from the realm of possibility. " I never thought I could sing," Gray told the Associated Press. " It never even entered my mind when I was little. That was the last thing I thought I could do." But she did love music and quickly absorbed the sounds of her parents' record collection. Hip-hop6 was also in the air at the time, and during a couple of years spent at a predominantly7 white boarding school, she was exposed to little other than rock music. At the same time, Gray was studying classical piano, which she pursued for seven years. She was still self-conscious8 about her voice, though, and she never sang a note9.

  That changed when she moved to Los Angeles, though. Her California sojourn10 was prompted by her enrollment11 in the screenwriting program at the University of Southern California Film School. A friend who owned some recording equipment sat down to write some songs with Gray, and they demoed12 the tunes, with Gray providing the guide vocals. Later, another singer would come in and record over her parts. Her friend left Gray's part intact on one song, and when the tape began circulating, her performance got all the attention. Soon she was being sought out by a jazz band that wanted her to sing standards on the L.A. hotel circuit. Gray thought of it as easy money.

  In the mid- '90s, she was signed successfully by Epic Records. Of course, Gray's songs were pretty special to begin with. With a title like On How Life Is, you'd expect her to be preaching13 a bit. Yet Gray's songs are not at all didactic14 sermons15 but rather intensely personal vignettes 16 ——the album is about how her life is, and it's eminently17 easy to relate to. Through it all, Gray and her collaborators cooked up18 an impressive stew19 of hip-hop, jazz, and rock. It caught the ear of listeners, who made " Do Something" a hit and turned Gray into one of 1999's most celebrated new artists. Her album graced a number of critics' best-of lists for the year, and she was nominated for a Grammy in the Best New Artist category, which was otherwise mostly dominated by the teen sensations of the moment. Meanwhile, " Do Something" was nominated in the category of Best Female R& B Vocal Performance.

  Although the turn of the century saw Gray with a firmly established foothold in the music business, she had other ambitions, including a return to her first love, film. Whatever she winds up20 doing, she can finally relax about her voice. Despite its shortcomings back in the day, it's gone a long way toward making her what she is today.







  1.superlative adj.最好的

  2.valid adj.令人信服的

  3.comparison n.比拟,比喻

  4.eccentricity n.古怪,怪僻

  5.torment vt.折磨

  6.hip-hop 嬉蹦文化,嬉蹦音乐(当代黑人青年文化,以说唱乐、墙壁涂鸦、霹雳舞为主要特征)

  7.predominantly adv.占绝大多数地

  8.self-conscious adj.怕难为情的,自觉的

  9.note n.[音](一个)音,音符

  10.sojourn n.旅居,逗留

  11.enrollment n.入学,注册

  12.demo vt.[口]录制样带

  13.preach vt.说教

  14.didactic adj.教导的,说教的

  15.sermon n.说教

  16.vignette n.(描写人物的)简介

  17.eminently adv.明显地,突出地

  18.cook up [口]想出,策划

  19.stew n.混杂物

  20 .wind up 结束,把(事物)料理停当

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