Macy Gray is still best known for “I Try,” the loping, lovelorn soul single that won her a Grammy in 2001. But it sometimes seems as if she has spent the past decade trying to avoid the specter of that track; she recorded an album largely produced by the Black Eyed Peas’s will.i.am, released a song-for-song tribute to Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book, and put out another project that included covers of Metallica and My Chemical Romance. According to this narrative, embracing a jazz label and jazz musicians for her new album, Stripped, seems like yet another direction change in a career full of zigs and zags.
But in a phone conversation this week, Gray positions Stripped in a different light, as a return to the genre that helped launch her career. “I really started out in jazz,” she explains. “That’s how I learned how to sing: jazz standards at clubs. When I was growing up, jazz was still really popular. It wasn’t such a small world as it is now.” READ MORE.