David Gray to ring out the 4th at Summerfest
David Gray says he had no idea fame was in store for him when he released his first album, "A Century Ends," in 1993. The English singer-songwriter spent the first six years of his career building what was a small but dedicated fan base that was mostly in the U.K., where he remains extremely popular today.
Six years later, he released his fourth album, "White Ladder," which was originally self-financed, recorded in his apartment and released on his own label, IHT Records. The album came out in 2000, and this time, Gray garnered worldwide attention. The album contained huge hits, "Please Forgive Me," "Babylon," "This Year's Love" and "Sail Away."
Today, "This Year's Love" and "Sail Away" are very common – arguably too common – at weddings in the United States, England and Ireland. Gray says he has never actually been at a wedding where his song was played, but he's aware of their wedding reception popularity.
"I don't go to a lot of weddings, for some reason," he says. "A lot more divorces these days."
Gray, however, has been married to the same woman, Olivia, since 1993. The couple has two daughters, ages 8 and 5.
Like most parents, Gray has found parenting to be both rewarding and challenging. He has publicly admitted to being difficult to live with and says that although his two children are amazing and he could not imagine life without them, he is sometimes frustrated by the inherent selfish nature of children.
"They can suck everything from you," he says.
Although he took a three-year hiatus, Gray is an extremely prolific writer and performer. Following the popularity of "White Ladder," two compilation albums of his earlier material were released. He went on to make four more albums, "A New Day At Midnight," "Life In Slow Motion," "Draw the Line" and "Foundling."
"Foundling," released in 2010, is a double album featuring 11 new songs and eight previously unreleased older tunes. (There are nine songs on the version available through iTunes.)
Gray is currently working on a new album and says it's been somewhat puzzling. Some records have emerged easily, but this time, it's a little more difficult to get it out. After a recent week in the studio he walked away with less material than he expected, but he's not discouraged.
"I'll figure it out," he says.
Gray says the death of his father had, of course, a profound impact on his life and his music. He says after you lose a parent, you see everything differently. Death reminds us of our own mortality, something that a lot of mid-lifers, including Gray, cannot help but to reflect on deeply.
And yet, the 44-year-old does not admit to being in the midst of a typical mid-life crisis.
"I have a lot on my mind, but I don't have the girlfriend or the convertible," Gray says.
Gray, who will return to Milwaukee and play a show at the BMO Stage on Wednesday, July 4 at 9:45 p.m., played at the Riverside Theater in 2010 and stayed at The Pfister Hotel.
"I have great memories of Milwaukee. I remember seeing some unique birds from my hotel room the last time I was there," says Gray.
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