Macy Gray talks about her Grammy, her movie roles and her upcoming performance at PrideFest

Singer/songwriter and actress Macy Gray hit it big with her infectious hit single “I Try,” earning a Grammy Award for the track in 2000. Since then she’s released six more studio albums, including two in 2012 (Covered and Talking Book). 

Gray also acted in several high-profile film projects, including Training Day, Shadowboxer and For Colored Girls. On June 7, she performs at PrideFest on the Miller Lite Mainstage.

What did winning a Grammy award mean to you?

It’s everything. It’s really incredible. 

Do you have a place of honor for your Grammy?

Yes! It’s actually right in front of me. It’s in my living room, with my other awards, in a case.

You’re a singer known for performing original material, but you released a pair of albums in 2012 on which you interpreted other people’s songs.

It was something that I always wanted to try but my label was never into it, because cover records historically don’t do that well. I wouldn’t say it was just for fun, but we had a ball doing it. It was like an experiment, something we wanted to try.

Marijuana legalization is gaining ground in states across the nation. Your new single “Stoned,” as well as “Smoke Two Joints” (from Covered), are a couple of indications that you might back such legislation.

As far as legalization (is concerned), I’m kind of on the fence about it. I don’t know if it’s something the government should be in control of. It’s such a culture. You have your own dealer and they deliver and they can give it to you on credit sometimes. I have friends that it would put out of work. It kind of takes the fun out of it. There are some states that made a lot of money (from it), but we don’t know what they do with the money. Where is it going? I kind of like the marijuana culture. It’s a whole underground thing that supports a lot of people who would probably be put out of work. I don’t know yet. They’re going to tax it. It’s going to be weird.

In addition to making music, you’ve also had a prolific acting career. What do you like best about acting?

I love being on set. I love creating characters. I love taking what’s on paper and turning it into a real person. It’s a major collaborative effort, so I always make good friends on the set. There’s always a lot of people around doing incredible things you didn’t even know could be done. I love the process of it. Of course, I love watching movies. But the process is always fun and challenging. It gets me  into something I haven’t done before and that I’m not sure I can do yet. It always challenges me creatively.

Are there any new movies coming out that your fans should be watching for?

Yes. I’m doing an HBO movie. There are a couple coming out that I did last year. One’s called Brotherly Love and one’s called November Rule. I also did Lee Daniels’ new TV show, but I don’t know when that comes out.

In June, you’ll perform at Milwaukee PrideFest. Have you always been aware of a following in the LGBT community?

Oh, yes. We’ve always had. I could see it at my shows. I did a song called “Sexual Revolution” and it was on after that. It’s cool. It’s such a massive audience now. I think it’s important as a musician. It’s not like it used to be. It’s not like, “Oh my God, a bunch of gays showed up at my show. What does that mean?” Now, it’s necessary, because they’re such a massive audience.

Have you ever performed or spent time in Milwaukee?

I performed there once. We were only there for a day. I’ve never been much to Milwaukee and I don’t know much about it, unfortunately, except for beer (laughs) and the Bucks.

What do your Milwaukee fans have to look forward to?

It’ll be a really awesome mixture of (songs from) all my albums and a couple of new ones that no one has heard. My new album comes out late this year. It’s cool. It’s an awesome show, and we always have a ball.

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