Boosted By Grammys, Macy Gray's Ascent Reaches Top 10

Soul singer's On How Life Is has made steady climb since its release seven months ago.

During the week of her appearance at the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards, soul singer Macy Gray finally broke into the top 10 of the Billboard 200 albums chart, buoyed by a 25 percent sales increase.

It was only the latest surge in the long climb her album has been charting since its release seven months ago.

Gray, who lost to pop singer Christina Aguilera in the Best New Artist category and to Whitney Houston in the Best Female R&B Vocal Performance category, nevertheless saw her album On How Life Is move up from #11 to #6. The LP combines contemporary music styles with Gray's simultaneously playful and raw vintage soul voice.

"People flock to all the good things she is," said Richard Harris, owner of the Lucy Florence Coffee House in Los Angeles, where Gray created an after-hours hangout called The We Ours. "She's a real natural. I think that's a very big part of her success story."

Gray has said that the LP, which features the uptempo "Do Something" (RealAudio excerpt) and the smoky ballad "I Try" (RealAudio excerpt), is accessible to a broad range of music fans because it deals with "the basics of life."

"To me, even though we're all different, we all end up living the same kind of life," Gray said. "We're all in the same boat. Everybody has to go to work, everybody wants to be loved, everybody needs sex, everybody needs money" (RealAudio excerpt of interview).

A buyer at Tower Records on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles said the album's sales are showing no signs of slowing.

"She's local here, so it was selling great from the get-go, but last week it really went through the roof," rock buyer Howard Krumholtz said, adding that the LP sold about 250 copies last week, up from roughly 110 the previous week. It sold 42 more copies on Monday and Tuesday.

Krumholtz said the Grammy Awards, at which Gray appeared as a presenter, may have played a role in the album's sales, even though the singer left the ceremony empty-handed.

Gray also performed on NBC-TV's "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" on Friday.

Born and raised in Canton, Ohio, Gray didn't start singing until she was 21, while studying screenwriting at University of Southern California film school. After recording an album for Atlantic that was never released, Gray signed with Epic Records/550 Music in 1998.

"I think she's got a great style," singer Barry Manilow said at a pre-Grammy party last week. "She reminds me of Billie Holiday; it's my kind of music."