Macy Gray Q&A: On being bullied and the power of music to encourage inclusivity

Grammy Award–winning musician and actress Macy Gray is performing as part of this year's TD Jazz Festival in Victoria, Vancouver and Toronto. In between performances, the legendary singer with her signature raspy sound talked with us about her career, her experience being bullied, and the power that music has in bringing people together to nurture diversity and inclusion.

TD: Thank you for taking some time to chat with us. You've said you were bullied as a kid. Why were you bullied and do you have any advice for people who are coping with bullying?

MG: I knew I was different and felt different. I was picked on as long as I can remember. I was shy and really tall and awkward and never knew what to say to people. Just a weird kid, really. I was also good at music, and when you're good at something people eventually start to like you.

TD: Is it true you were ashamed of your voice as a kid?

MG: I was super shy and quiet until I realized my voice was my blessing.

TD: As a shy kid who got picked on a lot, how did you find the confidence to step onto that stage for the first time?

MG: No confidence at all. I found my passion and it helped me overcome all of my barriers. In college, I gravitated towards musicians and artists. I began writing lyrics and studied different singers, then one day a friend asked me to perform with him and I said yes. That and I was offered a hundred bucks and really needed the money.

TD: How do you believe music breaks down barriers?

MG: Music breaks down barriers every time it plays. 

TD: Why are you drawn to jazz?

MG: Jazz is boogie! It's ostentatious. It doesn't care about format. It does what it wants. When I was growing up, jazz was really popular and that's how I learned how to sing. I was inspired by singers such as Billie Holiday and Nina Simone.

TD: As a society we use the word diversity a lot but what does a true inclusivity and diversity look like or mean to you?  

MG: [...] Festivals put everyone on the same page. I can sense it when I look out into the crowd. The audience is able to connect to one another at events such as the Toronto Jazz Festival through their shared love of music.

TD: How can artists help to create a more inclusive society?  

MG: Through my art, I feel that I can convey new messages about our culture and help spark inclusivity. Especially, if I can do it in a new way like I did for the music video, "White Man." It was inspired by all the things that are going on right now and I felt like it was needed. "White Man" was just my contribution to bringing people together.

TD: What's your favourite summer jam?

MG: My newest single, "Sugar Daddy."

From coast to coast, TD is a proud sponsor of more than 90 music festivals and 100 community music programs that enrich and strengthen our communities by connecting people through the universal language of music. Find out more at

To learn how we're helping to open doors for a more inclusive tomorrow through The Ready Commitment, visit