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Macy Gray Has An Honest Optimism

Macy Gray outside the World Cafe Performance Studio at WXPN in Philadelphia.
Taylor Johnson
/
WXPN
Macy Gray outside the World Cafe Performance Studio at WXPN in Philadelphia.

With her absolutely singular cadence and cool, Macy Gray poses a question on the opening track to her latest album, Ruby: "And I pray every night that my dreams come true/ Will I finally be happy if they do?"

The realm of dreams and the fulfillment they do or don't bring has been familiar to Gray since her debut album, On How Life Is, came out in 1999 with the song "I Try." It made her an instant megastar and Grammy winner. At the time, Gray was a single mother of three young kids.

Gray's sophomore album The Id happens to be one of my favorites of all time, and I find many similarities between that album and Ruby, including an honest optimism that is funny and funky, never saccharine but always uplifting.

In this session, Gray tells the story of the phone call that changed her life, how she learned to cope with all the fame that followed and her creative output since. Gray shares her very personal reasons for starting a foundation for teenagers with mental health issues, discusses the racial politics of feminism that are portrayed in her fascinating video for "White Man" and performs live with her phenomenal band.

Copyright 2019 XPN

Talia Schlanger hosts World Cafe, which is distributed by NPR and produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. She got her start in broadcasting at the CBC, Canada's national public broadcaster. She hosted CBC Radio 2 Weekend Mornings on radio and was the on-camera host for two seasons of the television series CBC Music: Backstage, as well as several prime-time music TV specials for CBC, including the Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy's Ocean Floor. Schlanger also guest hosted various flagship shows on CBC Radio One, including As It Happens, Day 6 and Because News. Schlanger also won a Canadian Screen Award as a producer for CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, a cross-country rock 'n' roll road trip.
Since 2017, John Myers has been the producer of NPR's World Cafe, which is produced by WXPN at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Previously he spent about eight years working on the other side of Philly at WHYY as a producer on the staff of Fresh Air with Terry Gross. John was also a member of the team of public radio veterans recruited to develop original programming for Audible and has worked extensively as a freelance producer. His portfolio includes work for the Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, The Association for Public Art and the radio documentary, Going Black: The Legacy of Philly Soul Radio. He's taught radio production to preschoolers and college students and, in the late 90's, spent a couple of years traveling around the country as a roadie for the rock band Huffamoose.