Tamyra Gray, perhaps the most praised singer in "American Idol" history, is returning to the series.
The first-season finalist will perform on the show Wednesday (April 7) to promote her debut album, The Dreamer, which will finally be released in June. Gray, whose surprising fourth-place finish nearly sent judge Paula Abdul to tears, will sing "Raindrops Will Fall," the potential first single from the record.
"That's one of my personal anthem songs," she said. "It basically says stuff is going to happen, but regardless, I'm gonna make it through it. No matter what anybody says, no matter how many obstacles get in my way, at the end of the day, the sun is going to shine.
"When I wrote that song I was going through a lot of different stuff, as far as switching labels and the complications with the labels," she added. "So it was a way to uplift myself ... remind myself that it's not over. I'm going to get through this mess."
Gray, who is managed by Simon Fuller's 19 Entertainment (the same company behind "American Idol" and its other offspring), originally signed to RCA Records (see " 'American Idol' Finalist Tamyra Gray Gets Recording Deal") but moved over to sister label J Records, which dropped her late last year. Her spokesperson said her new label will be announced later this week.
The former Miss Atlanta wrote all of the songs on The Dreamer, except for another inspirational ballad, "God Bless the Dreamer."
"That's pretty much my prayer song, it's a gospel sort of song," Gray said. "It's done with a choir and an orchestra and it's basically asking, through everything I've gone through, for God to give me strength, keep me strong, keep me going, keep my eyes focused. It talks about different problems people go through in life and talks about looking to tomorrow."
The production team of Louis Biancaniello and Color Me Badd's Sam Watters, who have worked with Kelly Clarkson and Jessica Simpson, handled most of the album, while Scott Storch (Christina Aguilera, Busta Rhymes) contributed a remix.
"It's a funk album," Gray said. "It bounces around, but it all fits. It's like bringing old school to now."
Other songs include the radio-friendly "Star," the childhood flashback "Good Old Days" and the profound "You've Only Got One." "It's about two people I know who went through molestation and drug use, and it talks about how you've gotta love yourself," she said of the latter. "You're the maker of your destiny."
Gray, who had a recent star turn on "Boston Public" (see "Method Man Has His Eyes Set On Tamyra Gray"), will appear on the April 15 episode of "Tru Calling" but then plans to focus on music for a while.
"I'll probably do another acting job at the end of the year, maybe a movie or have my own sitcom. We're working on that now," she said. "I got a chance to dabble in drama and comedy, and that was fun. I tend to be more drama, but I would do comedy or horror if the script is good."
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