Macy Gray ventured into uncharted territory recently when the Grammy award-winning artist decided to remake one of her most favorite albums, Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book—now in its 40th anniversary.
Loaded with legendary hits like “Superstition” and “You Are The Sunshine of My Life,” Gray learned how difficult it would be without sounding gimmicky. “We didn’t want to look like we were competing,” she said. “A lot of times when you do it over the same way, it’s like karaoke.” Instead, she put her creative spin on it, mixing jazz elements with her raspy voice.
When asked how she came up with idea to remake the album, Gray replied, it’s simply one of her favorites. “I knew it inside and out,” said Gray. “I like that I could translate those songs honestly. I also felt a lot of those songs are still relevant today—like ‘Big Brother.'”
Over a five-day period, Gray recorded her version, doing a few takes of each song with a complete band in tow. But when the time came to send it off for Wonder’s approval, it was more difficult than previously thought. “It wasn’t until like three weeks ago I finally got in touch with him,” said Gray. “One of his musicians got it to him and sat him down and had him listen to it. He kept saying ‘Wow, wow, wow!’ He couldn’t believe that I took time to do that for him. He said he liked the arrangements on it. It was really sweet. I think he was just really flattered.”
Although Gray’s version of Talking Book is a success in the eyes of her idol, she’s not planning to do any remakes in the near future. She’s hard at work on her yet-to-be-titled seventh studio album and plans to release a single on New Year’s Day.
If you’re interested to see how Gray took on Wonder’s classic album, check out her rendition of “Superstition” below. Talking Book is in stores now.