Ex-’Idol’ Standout Tamyra Gray Done Being Serious, Ready For Fun

With earnest debut behind her, singer/actress brings music to dance floor.

Some might call Tamyra Gray unlucky.

The onetime “American Idol” favorite was eliminated before Nikki McKibbin and Justin Guarini in the first season. Since then, she’s starred on a TV series that was soon canceled, was dropped by J Records, released a dud album and was then dropped by 19 Records.

Gray looks at it another way.

“It’s been great,” she said. “I’ve put out an album, I’ve done a movie, I put out a few TV shows. They’re all dreams that I’ve had that I’ve wanted to have the chance to live out.”

And Gray’s continuing to chase more dreams, learning from her experiences, especially with her 2004 debut album, The Dreamer, which has sold around 125,000 copies.

“I was very happy to put out the album that I put out. I was thrilled with it and proud of it,” she said. “But this time I understand [the business]. I want to target radio more this go-round.”

To do that, Tamyra’s recorded what she calls a more club-friendly, hip-hop-based project than her debut.

“I’ve grown since the first album,” she said. “It was my dream of putting out music that I was influenced by, and now that I’ve gotten through that, this next album is a lot more fun.”

 ‘Idol’ Season Five Performances

  Photos Of The 12 Finalists

Gray is shopping the music to labels and keeping busy with her acting.

Since her stint on “Boston Public” in 2003, she’s appeared on “What I Like About You,” “Half & Half,” “Tru Calling” and, most recently, “Las Vegas.” She also starred in the 2005 movie “The Gospel” and recently scored a national print and commercial campaign with H&M. Through the modeling gig, she was able to work with one of her biggest idols, Mary J. Blige.

“She’s achieved so much in her lifetime and crossed over so many barriers,” Gray said. “She’s proved that she has staying power and that she’s the real deal.”

Gray met with a publishing company and is considering writing songs for other artists. She’s already written songs for “Idol” winners Fantasia and Kelly Clarkson.

“It’s not an easy life,” Gray said, summing up her entertainment career so far. “It’s not an easy thing being in limbo and transitioning between labels. I think that if I didn’t have my faith, and knowing that my blessings were right around the corner, I wouldn’t be able to stay in this industry.”

Get your “Idol” fix on MTV News’ “American Idol” page, where you’ll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.