Macy Gray is back with a new single and, while it wasn’t inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic, “Thinking Of You” definitely references this new version of reality that we’re all living in. “That was such a heavy time,” the 53-year-old said about the pandemic that started last year and has spilled into 2021. “I think you’re going to get references in everybody’s music about that.
“[There are] lines in there that talk about…’So much to know, so much to care about.’ And that’s just from watching the news. You get overwhelmed by all the things you are supposed to be fighting for. Too much to fight for sometimes.”
At its core, Macy tells HollywoodLife, the ballad – which has a slow groove and old school vibe – is a love song. Or, as she suggests, “Thinking Of You” makes you “want to have some sex, get some alcohol in your system.”
Like millions of people, the pandemic hit the pause button on Macy’s career. She spent that time of collective lockdown doing what many of her fans did – cooking, binge-watching TV, gaining weight and connecting with family.
“My mother was here. She got stuck here. She was visiting and she couldn’t go home. So I learned how to season chicken really well. That’s her expertise,” says Macy, who admits that she gained 30 pounds. “We all learned a lot. I mean it was different. Of course I hung out with my family a lot more but, I’ll be honest, mostly I watched a lot of movies and slept.”
Macy seems to be selling herself short because, in the midst of all that, she also found time for activism and philanthropy. While the world erupted into protests and riots following a string of police killings of unarmed African-Americans, the singer was working behind the scenes offering emotional and financial support to their families. Her vehicle was My Good, a non-profit that she started in 2018, but put into action last summer.
“We support families who lose loved ones due to police violence,” Macy says. “A lot of people don’t think about the aftermath. You get caught up in the politics and the marching and who’s wrong and who’s right. But behind the scenes, there’s a mom and a dad and sisters and brothers who have lost someone so suddenly and tragically and they’re suffering.
“You hear about all these big settlements but 99 percent of the families never get anything and, when they do, it takes years. In the meantime, you have funeral costs, you have legal fees. Mental health is…what we support the most. We literally pay for therapy and help people.”
The pain is real and you can hear it in Macy’s voice. Behind the names on the placards are families who, years later, are still reeling from their loss. “I remember talking to Sandra Bland’s sister. She couldn’t work anymore,” Macy says of the sibling of the African-American woman who died in a Texas jail in 2015 after being arrested for a minor traffic violation. “She laid in bed for two years because she felt guilty that she wasn’t there, because Sandra had asked her to come bail her out and she said she’d have the money by the end of the week and Sandra was…gone before she got there.”