Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Macy Gray visited the top of the charts on several occasions, but found steadier success contributing to film and television soundtracks and taking the occasional supporting film role. Born on Sept. 6, 1967 as Natalie McIntyre, Gray was raised in Canton, OH but headed out for Los Angeles right after high school to pursue her love of writing at the University of Southern California. She began writing songs and eventually warmed to the idea of showcasing her distinctive, smoky voice at jazz clubs and coffeehouses around town. In 1999, Epic Records released Gray's debut album, On How Life Is
, and the jazzy, feel-good stylings of the single "I Try" earned Gray a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Her flamboyant fashion sense and six-foot stage presence seemed a natural fit for a screen career, so the following year, Gray was cast in a small supporting role in the police drama "Training Day" (2000) starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke. Gray's second album The Id
was released in the fall of 2001 on the unfortunate heels of a highly publicized massacre of a pre-football game National Anthem that fueled Gray's growing reputation as "out there." While Gray dipped in the charts, her vocal style proved a good match for film and TV projects. She was tapped to sing the theme song of Nickelodeon's animated 'tween series, "As Told By Ginger" (2000-03), and recorded songs for the soundtracks of "Baby Boy" (2001), "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" (2002) and "Spider-Man" (2002), in which she also had a cameo as herself.
In 2003, Gray released The Trouble With Being Myself and went on to perform theme songs for the TV series "Miss Match" (NBC, 2003-05) and "Second Time Around" (UPN, 2004-05), as well as record the holiday classic "Santa Baby" for the soundtrack of the period chick flick, "Mona Lisa Smile" (2003). With her reputation as a bit of an unpredictable eccentric, she was an interesting casting choice to play a crazy and dangerous resident of a close-knit rooming house in HBO's "Lackawanna Blues" (2004). The same year, she portrayed R&B singer Carla Thomas on an episode of the 1960s-set series "American Dreams" (NBC, 2002-05) and had small roles in the Keira Knightley actioner "Domino" (2004) and the sequel "The Crow: The Wicked Prayer" (2004). In 2006, Gray was featured on the soundtrack of the Tony Scott action film, "Déjà vu" (2006) and appeared as a contestant on the reality series "Duets" (Fox, 2006-07) and "Celebrity Poker Showdown" (Bravo, 2003-06). In another pair of low-profile bit parts, she appeared in Lee Daniels' gritty crime drama "Shadowboxer" (2006) and in the all-star cast of the Depression-era musical, "Idlewild" (2007). However, she experienced bigger movie success when her single "What I Gotta Do" was featured on the soundtrack of the hit animated film "Shrek the Third" (2007). In 2009, she was included on the soundtrack "Confessions of a Shopaholic" (2009) and was announced as a contestant on the reality series, "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ).