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Macy Gray Covers Stevie Wonder and the Arts Post-Hurricane Sandy

Macy Gray

Harlem Arts Alliance Presents: On the “A” w/Souleo

In these times of political turmoil, socioeconomic inequities and environmental issues, the songs of Stevie Wonder resonate deeply. In fact, so deeply that Macy Gray was inspired to cover Wonder’s entire classic album, Talking Book. On songs like “Superstition,” “Maybe Your Baby” and “Big Brother,” Gray transforms the songs into a thrilling soundscape.

Gray shared that she felt compelled to tackle the project due to the messages in the songs. “He wrote ‘Big Brother’ so long ago and now everywhere you go you’re on camera. He has a lot of political comments and this beautiful perspective on love and politics without being preachy.”

Gray, whose previous album, Covered, was also a collection of covers, notes that taking a break from original material has reinvigorated her muse. “I haven’t been in love and I didn’t want to make a record whining about myself. There is always politics but the things that made me want to write, were the things that made me want to cry,” she says. “So I did other people’s songs and now I’m in the middle of two records and inspired by great things.”

While the title of her previous album of original material, The Sellout, alluded to her frustrations of not being considered commercial enough, Gray notes that we shouldn’t expect such concerns this time around. Gray is all about avoiding musical trends with no regrets. “There is an art to trying to keep up with the times and I think that is not my presence in music. I don’t want to be worried about all that.”

One worry on the minds of many is the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the superstorm that has devastated the Caribbean and almost crippled the East Coast. A particularly vulnerable group is the arts/culture community and the following organizations are offering emergency grants to ease financial burdens on artists: The Actors’ Fund of America; Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, Inc.; Artists’ Fellowship; and Craft Emergency Relief Fund. For a listing of other resources please click here.

As always, the resiliency of the arts/culture community demonstrates its strength with several events aiming to keep Harlem’s cultural engine moving…To read the rest of the column please click here.