BEVERLY HILLS, California — “It’s gonna be big!” Macy Gray exclaimed recently at an event to unveil her new fashion line, but she could very well have been talking about the rest of her year, with a slew of film roles and a new LP ahead. The raspy-voiced R&B singer, who has shied away from the music industry’s limelight since her last album, 2003′s The Trouble With Being Myself, is ready to come back stronger than ever.
Music and movies are familiar ground for Gray, but she is really putting on a new hat with her Natalie Hinds line. Bearing the singer/style trailblazer’s real name, Gray’s label will feature fashions reminiscent of old-school Diana Ross, according to designer Nonja McKenzie — who has also worked with R&B singer Jill Scott and the Black Eyed Peas’ Fergie. Look for the duds, which Gray proudly calls “ghetto chic,” to hit upscale stores this fall.
Gray has also been busy putting the finishing touches on her next album, tentatively titled Big, which will evoke the sounds of classic Macy: a fusion of funk, pop, soul and rock. Justin Timberlake, Fergie and her fellow Black Eyed Pea Will.I.Am, Sleepy Brown and Slash (yes, that Slash) have all recorded tracks with the soulful songstress. The LP, set for release by the Will.I.Am Music Group this fall, will be produced by the Peas’ MC. The disc will also feature a track co-produced by Timberlake called “Get Out,” making Gray’s album one of the first projects from Will’s new production group with Justin Timberlake, the JAW Breakers (Justin and Will, get it?).
The singer has also been hard at work trying to establish herself as a bona fide Hollywood actress. After a small stint alongside Denzel Washington in 2001′s “Training Day,” Gray appeared in a handful of film and television projects, including “Scary Movie 3,” “Around the World in 80 Days” and “Lackawanna Blues” (see “Macy Gray Keeps The Music Coming While Tackling Film And TV” ).
This fall, Gray will be featured with another Oscar-winning actor — Cuba Gooding Jr. — in the Lee Daniels thriller “Shadowboxer,” which tracks the lives of a mother-and-stepson team of contract killers who fall in love with one another. She will also appear in “Domino,” starring Keira Knightley as a rapper/stripper/burglar; she will also contribute music to the movie’s soundtrack. And keep an eye out for the singer/actress in the Outkast musical, originally titled “Speakerboxxx”, where she will play a madam (see “What’s Up With The Outkast Movie? The Director Spills It All” ).