Feelin' fine, feelin' Gray

The memorable Macy Gray comes to Tel Aviv this week.

Macy Gray 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Macy Gray 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The problem with releasing an unforgettable debut album is that people don't forget it. That's been the case with Macy Gray and her memorable 1999 breakout On How Life Is. Between her utterly unique voice - once described as Janis Joplin on helium - and an equally kooky sense of style and panache, it was easy to overlook that Gray was musical throwback to the soul legends like Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Billie Holiday. Gray received two Grammy nominations (for Best New Artist and Best Female R&B Vocal), and her seductive single "I Try" was an enormous hit, enabling On How Life Is to go triple platinum by the end of 2000. It was an American success story for the former Natalie McIntyre of Canton, Ohio, a recently divorced mother of three who was working as a cashier to make ends meet. Since then, it's been a topsy-turvy world for Gray. In August 2001, she was booed off stage at a pro football game for forgetting the words to the American national anthem (despite a fully functioning wardrobe), and her second album The ID died a quick death, upon its release only a week after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Gray's erratic stream of consciousness appearances on award shows led some to believe that substance abuse was at play, but it turns out she was just a space shot, levitating on her own planet. Accepting her as a true eccentric, fans have seen subsequent releases pushing a slicker, more contemporary style, culminating in last year's Big, produced by a team including hip hop hit-maker will.i.am, and collaborations with Justin Timberlake, Natalie Cole and Fergie. Controversy occasionally still follows Gray - like when she was kicked offstage at a concert in Barbados for profanity, apparently unaware that it was against the law in that country. She gave a public apology that night to avoid arrest. Local fans will have no problem with the occasional F-bomb when Gray graces the stage at the Zappa Club in Tel Aviv on August 4 and 5. Her voice excuses all transgressions. Tickets cost NIS 250 for both shows, beginning at 9 p.m. To purchase or for more information call (03) 767-4646.