2013’s first massive Blockbuster comes in the shape of Oz The Great and Powerful and with its release right before us, accompanying this Prequel to The Wizard of Oz is a powerful Promotional Single performed by none other than Mariah Carey. Making a Track worthy of that Film’s iconic legacy was by no means an easy task. It actually is the result of several great Musical Minds, including Carey herself, Mega-Producers Stargate (Rihanna, Ne-Yo),Simone Porter, Lindsey Ray and Canada’s own Justin Gray, whom I had the pleasure of chatting with about the making of what could be a Contender at next year’s Oscars in the Category for Original Song, won recently by Adele for Skyfall. I mean by name association itself, James Franco‘s Oscar/Oz Character already has the prestigious Award written allover it, right?
Born in Montreal and raised in Toronto, success certainly didn’t just come over tonight for 17-time JUNO Award Winner Gray. 14 years into his successful career, he finally has the chance to write with a Megastar like Carey, absolutely shocked to be gifted the opportunity. “We never in a dream world considered Mariah Carey would do it” he says, “She interpreted what we had started with and turned it into Almost Home, a beautiful piece of Art and Pop Music.”.
This is not to say that Gray has worked with a roster of Unknowns all this time. After moving to London, England with his Wife, he padded his lofty Résumé working with the likes of Amy Winehouse, Joss Stone and Emma Bunton (Spice Girls), before deciding ultimately to relocate to Los Angeles in 2007. He recalls, “I sorta thought to myself I really wanna be in L.A. and I’ve been coming here quite a bit. Finally I convinced my Wife, telling her ‘Let’s try it and see what happens!'”. Since then, he hasn’t looked back and appears to be on the verge of what looks to be a Career Pinnacle.
On working with Carey, Gray silences the Diva rumours, telling me she definitely takes a hands-on approach with Writing, stating “She was very involved. Unfortunately the way that everybody’s schedule aligned, it was hard for all involved to be in the same place at the same time. She was in New York, shooting Idol, she was super busy and we were all busy.”. Being on two coasts, I ask logistically how Almost Home was composed and he explains, “We would collaborate often via E-mail, through her Management sending MP3s and Lyrics back and forth. She would cut Vocals and send it back. Although I wish we were always in a room together, it really still was a very equal Collaboration.”.
Being physically in the U.S. hasn’t severed Gray‘s roots with his native Canada. His memories of growing-up here are fond ones with him listening to an eclectic mix of Top 40 Radio, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Buddy Holly, the latter thanks to his1950s-obsessed Father. In addition to playing an instrumental role in 98°‘s Comeback this year penning their upcoming Single, we also can expect to hear new work with Enrique Iglesias and John Legend, plus Canadian Talent including Victoria Duffield, whom we chat with last year. He tells us also to look out for Island/Def Jam emerging Artist Smokey Jones, whom he is working with closely.
Listen to my complete interview with Gray below:
See the brand new Video for Almost Home below:
Almost Home is available now on iTunes. Buy it here.
Oz The Great and Powerful is in theatres Friday, March 8, 2013.
(Photo/video credit: Mr. Will Wong/Justin Gray/Universal Music/Warner Music Canada)