Soundtrack Of My Life: Macy Gray

Grammy-winning singer-songwriter. Would like you to stop asking her to sing 'I Try' at karaoke

The first song I remember hearing

Sly & the Family Stone – ‘Everyday People’

“When I was little, it was just me and my mum, and we lived with her best friend Cynthia and her daughter Shannon. I can remember my mum sitting on the couch in her nightgown with the radio blasting ‘Everyday People’. I would only have been about four or five at the time, and it’s stuck with me all these years.”

The first song I fell in love with

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Jimmie Davis – ‘You Are My Sunshine’

“I started taking piano lessons when I was seven and this was the first song I learned how to play. I actually hated the whole piano lesson experience because my teacher was 80 and so slow. It was so boring at the time but I’m grateful now because the only thing I do well is make music and that is all because of those piano lessons with my 80-year-old teacher.”

The first album I bought

Prince – ‘Purple Rain’

“When I went to see the [Purple Rain] movie, I loved it so much that I watched it twice back-to-back. I went with my cousin Angela and I remember she got so mad because she wanted to go home, but I kept saying ‘let me just watch this part again’ for the whole 90 minutes. I was already a Prince fan but I’d never seen anything like it before. I’d never seen a movie that was about music and a band, with this little guy who walked around in heels all the time. I think it was the first time I had ever heard him speak.”

The first gig I went to

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The Jackson 5 at Front Row Theatre, Cleveland, Ohio, 1974

“They were big at the time but they weren’t huge like Michael became. I remember all the girls in the audience screaming when Michael ran through the aisle [of the theatre] at the end of the show. And because he got caught in the crowd, my mom was able to lean in and pinch his cheeks. I remember she was so excited to have done that – I mean, she was still only in her twenties at the time. She came back to the seat screaming: Oh my God, oh my God, I pinched his cheeks!'”

The song that reminds me of home

Dennis Edwards feat. Siedah Garrett – ‘Don’t Look Any Further’

“My dad used to play this song all the time. I’m from Ohio and it was huge there: you would hear it at every barbecue and every school dance. But then when I came out to California, I remember being surprised that it wasn’t such a big deal. Some music hits in certain states – especially in the South – and then doesn’t in others.”

The song I can’t get out of my head

Ed Sheeran – ‘Bad Habits’

“I was in Australia recently and they play this song all the time on the radio. They play like three songs, and then it’s time for ‘Bad Habits’ again. It’s an awesome song though and he’s an amazing songwriter – I’d actually call him a magical writer.”

The song I do at karaoke

Macy Gray – ‘I Try’

“Karaoke isn’t stressful for me, but it is kind of annoying because they always want me to do ‘I Try’. I spend 20 minutes looking for the perfect song to sing and then the DJ goes: ‘OK Macy, before you do this song, you know you have to do ‘I Try’. And then everyone crowds around waiting for me to sing ‘I Try’ and I end up doing it. Honesty, this never fails to happen.”

The song I want played at my funeral

Pop Smoke – ‘What You Know Bout Love’

“I would actually want to play Pop Smoke‘s whole album to turn the thing into a party. I’ve already told everyone that I don’t want a funeral. I just want everybody to celebrate the fact they’re still alive and share any good memories they have of me while they eat and get super-drunk. I just think a funeral makes the end of your life so awful. Why would you want to sit in a pew and cry when you could be up on your feet dancing?”

Macy Gray’s new single ‘Undone’ with The California Jet Club is out now

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