Maybe you forgot about Macy Gray. Not that anyone could: She’s a loopy, 6-foot-tall standout with a distinctive, soulful rasp. But Gray’s success since the monster hit “I Try” has been just that – try after try. Ready to make a big impression again, she’s releasing what she calls her best album yet – “The Sellout” – last year, and stops at 8 p.m. Jan. 28 at the MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit. With songs like the old-school first single “Beauty in the World” and the apropos “The Comeback,” she’s bringing back the sound that made her a ubiquitous name.
Gray gave us a buzz and chatted about the gayest song on her fifth album, the beauty in her own world and the trip she wants to take – to the afterlife.
Tell me about the beauty in your own world.
Lots now: The music I make, my kids and my family. I think I’ve grown up in the last couple of years – finally – and I feel better about a lot of things. And what else? I don’t know. There’s tons of it! It’s hard to list it all.
Let’s give it a shot: Most beautiful song?
“My Way,” the Nina Simone mix.
I’ve been told I have a nice ass.
So what’s caused you to grow up?
Too many mistakes. I had to stop and get myself together. It’s cool to be carefree and all that shit, but at some point you have to know what you’re doing (laughs) and be committed to something, and I really just got around to that the last couple of years. And I can tell I’m doing a lot better.
Why do people think you’re a “psycho-ball,” like you say on the album?
I don’t know. Just interpretation and misinterpretation. I don’t really know where that came from, but suddenly I had this reputation for being all these things.
Would you say you’re weird?
Am I weird? Absolutely! I see things a little differently. What makes you different is really what you want out of life.
What do you want?
I would like to die for two weeks and see what it’s all about, but then I want to come back. I’m just really fascinated by what goes on when someone passes away, because obviously it’s not over. I’d just like to get a peek into what’s in store for me.
Someone else that’s maybe misunderstood also happens to be your friend and a collaborator on this album: Bobby Brown. What are we not seeing in him that you’re seeing?
Bobby’s adorable. He’s a sweetheart and he gets a very, very bad rap – and he’s not a bad guy at all. I chose him for the record because I think he’s a great singer and one of the last romantic singers. Nobody sings to the girls anymore; they’re all rappers or they want to talk about how much money they make. He’s one of the last crooners. I just thought it’d be fitting he sang with me (on “Real Love”), and our voices go great together.
Does Bobby Brown share his marijuana supply?
Ohhh. (Laughs) Well, he doesn’t have to. There’s plenty of marijuana for everybody to get some for themselves. He’s a good guy – it’s not all about that for him.
You talk about how you can’t tell if you’re going to heaven or hell on the song “Help Me.” What would send you to hell?
I’ve done lots of things, I’m sure, that God doesn’t approve of.
I have to name ’em? I went through a period where I became a very good liar and lying always gets you into other trouble … which leads you to hell (laughs). But I stopped that.
Probably after I stopped partying too much.
They probably party in heaven.
I don’t think he disapproves of partying; it’s what you do while you’re partying.
What song on the album do you think your gay fans will most get a kick out of?
Probably “Kissed It,” because it’s a song about sex – this relationship that I stay in because the oral sex is so great.
You recently Tweeted, “Do you think God gets tired of everybody asking him for stuff?” What was the last thing you asked him for?
What did I say? Oh, I just said I needed “Beauty in the World” to become No. 1.
Does having hits matter to you anymore?
Part of making music is you want to share it with as many people as possible, so people call that a hit when a whole bunch of people dig your music. Of course I want to be successful in what I do, and I really think that I made something that a lot of people need to hear. The album is definitely something that everybody can relate to, dance to, make love to, go to sleep to. One you listen to over and over again.
Why has it been a struggle to achieve the same success as your debut, “On How Life Is”?
Only in America. In Europe I did really well with all my albums. It’s different; they’re a lot more open to music in Europe, like they know every American artist, but we probably only know a few European artists.
More than anything I just want to do something epic. I want to do something historical, like Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” or Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” Something people never forget.