Tamyra Gray (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Tamyra Monica Gray (born July 26, 1979) is an American actress, singer and songwriter, who finished fourth place on the first season of the musical reality competition American Idol in 2002. Record and television executive Simon Cowell "? who judged the show for nine seasons "? was disappointed when she was voted off and felt she could have won. Post American Idol, Gray has began acting on Broadway and television. She had a recurring role on the third season of the drama series Boston Public in early 2003.
Gray was born in Takoma Park, Maryland and later moved to Norcross, Georgia. She graduated from Stone Mountain High School in Stone Mountain, Georgia in 1997. She began singing at an early age. She competed in several beauty pageants and was named Miss Atlanta in 1998. Gray attended Georgia State University, majoring in business law and entertainment management. Prior to American Idol, she worked a variety of jobs including day care worker, party motivator, telemarketer, waitress, and running her own cleaning service. She also filmed Coca-Cola commercials and worked with artists like her friend Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes and rapper DMX with hopes of finding an opening into the entertainment industry.
Gray married Color Me Badd singer Sam Watters (whom she worked with on The Dreamer) on September 2, 2006, in Capri, Italy. About 45 guests were in attendance, including her then-manager, Lisa Braude. Gray's photographer sold the wedding photos to American press, and the low-key relationship soon became public after People Magazine broke the story. She is now stepmom to Kieran, Sam's son from a previous marriage. On March 23, 2010, Gray announced to Entertainment Weekly that she was expecting her first baby with Watters. On July 17, 2010, Gray gave birth to daughter Sienna Marie.
In 2002, Gray became one of the ten finalists on the first season of American Idol, eventually finishing fourth. Her performance of the Burt Bacharach classic "A House Is Not a Home" was described by Judge Simon Cowell as "one of the best performances on television" that he had ever seen.
Gray was also featured on two tracks on the American Idol Christmas CD - a solo version of "Silent Night" and a duet version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" with Ruben Studdard. She also appeared on the Idol Christmas Special on Fox with Clarkson, Studdard, and other finalists from the first two Idol seasons.
During the third season of American Idol, she returned to the show on several occasions to sing "Raindrops Will Fall" and "Star", songs she co-wrote for her debut album, and to sing the National Anthem to open the final results show of the season. Gray also co-wrote the American Idol season three single "I Believe", which was performed by Idol finalists Fantasia Barrino and Diana DeGarmo. Barrino then released "I Believe" as her American Idol single, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts.
List of performances on American Idol
June 18, 2002 "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" by Jennifer Holliday
On June 19 of 2002, Tamyra became a finalist of American Idol.
July 16, 2002 "Touch Me in the Morning" by Diana Ross
July 23, 2002 "A Fool in Love" by Ike & Tina Turner
Theme: '60s Music
July 30, 2002 "If I Were Your Woman" by Gladys Knight & the Pips
Theme: '70s Music
August 6, 2002 "Minnie the Moocher" by Cab Calloway
August 20, 2002 "New Attitude" by Patti LaBelle and "Feel the Fire" by Stephanie Mills
During the season, many critics and fans thought that Tamyra would make it to the finals, and perhaps win. However, on August 21, Tamyra was placed in the Bottom 2 (along with Nikki McKibbin), and then eliminated from the show. The judges expressed their shock at the audience decision, while making supportive comments to Gray.
After American Idol, creator Simon Fuller signed Tamyra to his newly formed independent record label, 19 Records, a division of his 19 Management, Gray's first solo album, The Dreamer, which Gray wrote herself, was eventually released on May 25, 2004. The album sold 39,000 copies during its first week in release and has sold 122,000 to date. The H. Hector and J. Vasquez mixes of Tamyra's lead single, "Raindrops Will Fall," peaked at number five on Billboard's Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart; another set of remixes of the same song also hit number nine on that chart. Gray later parted ways with 19 Entertainment but remains close with Fuller, who attended her wedding to Sam Watters in Capri, Italy.
Gray performed a duet with American Idol season one winner Kelly Clarkson on Clarkson's debut release Thankful. The song, entitled "You Thought Wrong," was co-written by Gray but never released as a single.
Gray was a co-writer and back-up singer on Jessica Simpson's album A Public Affair, which was released August 29, 2006. She is listed fourth in writing credits on the songs "If You Were Mine" and "The Lover in Me", and sung back-up on "If You Were Mine" . The CD debuted on Billboard's 200 Chart at number five.
Gray also co-wrote the number one Billboard Hot 100 song "I Believe."
Gray was reported to be in the process of recording a new album. Gray called it more club-friendly, hip-hop-based project than her debut. She is also in the process of finding a record label. Tamyra twittered that she was in the studio recording a new album with Ryan Tedder and the production team The Runaways which her husband Sam Watters is part of. They had planned to release her album through a major label in 2010.
Gray wrote and sung the demo for "Powerless" off Kristinia DeBarge's debut album.
She has starred on Broadway twice. In November 2004, Gray was cast for a limited engagement of twelve weeks in the role of Priya in Broadway's struggling Bombay Dreams. Due to continued poor grosses, the show closed early on January 1, 2005. She joined the cast of Rent as Mimi Marquez on May 29, 2007 and was scheduled to play the role until November 25, 2007, however, that six-month contract was extended. Gray performed in Rent until June 15, 2008 and was replaced by Renée Elise Goldsberry.
In October 2005, Gray made her big screen supporting role debut in the independent film The Gospel, which debuted at No. 5 at the box office, and also had strong DVD sales when it was released to stores on January 3, 2006. Gray has one song, "Now Behold the Lamb", featured on the movie's soundtrack, which climbed to No. 1 on Billboard's Soundtrack Chart. Her second movie role was in the 2008 movie Rachel Getting Married.
Also in 2005, Gray appeared in a short film for H&M's new line of denim jeans, and performed the Dreamgirls show stopper "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going". Tamyra was featured in print advertisements for the H&M denim and her version of the song played in H&M stores.
Gray played Della in the musical "Twist", a theatrical version of Oliver Twist, set in New Orleans during the Depression and was produced by Debbie Allen. The musical was originally scheduled to run from June 14 to July 17, but was extended through July 24 due to strong ticket sales and a string of sold out shows.