24-YEAR-OLD NEW YORK BASED MUSICAL
THEATRE VETERAN BLENDS HIS DRAMATIC
AND OPERATIC TRAINING WITH A WIDE
RANGE OF POP-ROCK INFLUENCES (FROM
MICHAEL BUBLÉ TO FREDDIE MERCURY)
ON HIS SELF-TITLED DEBUT EP
The One-time Model And Actor, Who Has Appeared
In Commercials For MTV and Comedy Central, Recently
Completed His First Music Video For The Power Ballad
“Back To You Again,” Co-Written And Produced
By His Brother, Pop-Rock Performer Travis Gray
For Joshua Gray, a funny and perfectly serendipitous thing happened on his way to being a Broadway performer—he’s become an emerging pop star instead!
After getting what seemed like a millionth callback a few years ago for the Tony Award- winning musical “Spring Awakening” and nearly as many for the latest revival of “Grease,” the operatically-trained 24-year-old vocal powerhouse—a onetime student at the Boston Conservatory of Music—was told that his voice was simply “too pretty” to be on Broadway during this time of resurgence for rock musicals.
The charismatic, multi-talented upstate New York raised Gray had his burgeoning careers as a model and actor to fall back on. He had worked the runway, done editorials and had appeared in commercials for MTV and Comedy Central. But he felt it was time to apply his lifelong relationship with music, including years of experience singing in musicals and working with Maria Callas trained opera singer Marko Lampas, to a higher purpose.
Collaborating with his younger brother Travis, a rocker and songwriter with his own studio, Echo City Recording, in Queensbury, New York, Gray wrote and recorded the four dynamic, emotionally compelling tracks that comprise his self-titled Joshua Gray EP. He recently completed a stylish, dramatic black and white video for “Back To You Again,” a heartrending, soaring power ballad about the hopeful sadness of a love that’s not quite possible in the moment.
Travis Gray’s latest group, Travis Gray and the Frontiers, has opened for numerous superstar bands, including a show for Third Eye Blind in New York City.
While “Back To You Again” has an obvious Josh Groban influence, Gray has been equally inspired over the years by a wide variety of classic and contemporary performers spanning a multitude of genres, from Michael Bublé and Frank Sinatra to Freddie Mercury and Luciano Pavarotti (and The Three Tenors), and current alt rock bands like Keane and Muse.
Gray’s diversity is further reflected by the fact that a few years prior to working with Travis on the EP, the two had joined forces on a several song demo featuring the singer performing “Nessun Dorma” —an aria from Puccini’s opera “Turandot” that was one of Pavarotti’s signature hits—as well as Bublé’s “Cry Me A River” and “Home.” At one point, the Gray brothers also developed a popular jazz cabaret act that they performed locally at Café Cabaret and at a special performance at SUNY (State University of New York) Purchase. Joshua Gray has also sung arias at big soiree events for members of the Florida Grand Opera and Classical South Radio in Miami.
“It seems like I’ve sung a little bit of everything in my life, from jazz to pop and opera,” he says, “but when it came time to focus on the music I want to define my career, I knew that adult-oriented pop with a dramatic twist would be the best style for me. It had to be accessible and fit my voice, a natural lyric tenor with the ability to drop into the baritone range. Even though we grew up together and had similar musical tastes, the songs Travis and I wrote for the EP were actually the first we had written together. Things really clicked quickly.
“He writes a lot of dramatic melodies and chord structures, and as he’s creating those, I will come in with lyrics that naturally seem to revolve around romance and lost love. Growing up doing acting and drama, and having relationships, it’s seems fitting that I would gravitate towards romance as a songwriter. The most ‘poppy’ song is ‘Call Me Crazy’ about a girl who plays coy even when you know you’re the one for her. It began with Travis’ musical and lyrical line ‘people that just want to make love’ and developed from there.”
Gray calls “Walk Across The World” his wanderlust song: “I went to Paris just once to work for 48 hours as a model. I was supposed to do a Christian Dior fashion show but they told me I was too muscular. There was also this girl I knew at NYU who told me of her travels. That song is about my longing to go back to Europe! “Like a Fool,” ended up with a soulish feel to it, real bluesy. It’s about the storm side of relationships, the rockiness of having more downs than ups.”
While there is no doubt that concert performances in countries across the pond are in Gray’s future, his growing fan base should also know just how vast his performance resume is. Growing up performing in school and regional theatre near Lake George, N.Y.—“three hours from Boston, three from NYC and three and a half from Montreal” —he played everything from Colin, the “kid in the wheelchair” in “The Secret Garden,” to Sid in “Pajama Game” and even Jesus in “Godspell.” “Where do you go after you play Jesus?” Gray laughs. “I mean, how do you top that?”
One way is by originating roles in two original musicals, “Henry’s House” and “He Who Gets Slapped” at Hubbard Hall in Cambridge, New York; the other venue Gray performed in regularly was Proctor’s Theatre in Schenectady. He later studied acting at The Circle in the Square Theatre School in NYC.
The versatile performer may be focused currently on his music career, but he’s also been keeping up his acting chops, starring last year in a regional stage adaptation of “It’s A Wonderful Life” as none other than the iconic George Bailey.
“Just as I resisted the temptation to imitate Jimmy Stewart’s voice that everyone knows from the film,” he says, “I know that the key to establishing myself as a recording artist is in drawing inspiration from great artists I admire, but establishing my own unique sound.
“One thing I am really happy about is that for a first real original recording, the EP is a lot different and much more diverse than I could have expected going in,” Gray adds. “The songs show different facets of my voice, but I stayed honest to who I am vocally. This kind of integrity is so important. I want people to listen and see that I’m an artist that knows who I am and stays true to myself.
“As for classification…pop, AC, ‘popera,’ I think I will just let them listen and decide for themselves. I’m showing my voice to the world and not trying to emulate anyone else. All of my stage experience and training have helped make me the artist and performer I am today. My goal when I start performing these songs is to be able to represent them in a live setting, without all the bells and whistles some use to disguise their vocal limitations. I think the ability to perform and entertain an audience at a high level will help me develop and sustain a long and fruitful career.”