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Monday’s “Live Your Story”- Will Gray

January 24, 2011

Story has the ability to move us, not just emotionally but also physically.  Interacting with someone living courageously invites us to do so as well.  There are few people who live with the resolve and creativity of Will Gray.   This soft spoken man has a brain that never stops going.  Will experienced first hand the difficulty of breaking into the music industry.  Instead of packing up and heading home when faced with adversity, he decided to make a documentary about the industry and his troublesome quest.  One man’s crisis is another man’s opportunity.  His story, like all of ours, should be told.  Meet Will…

Will Gray

Los Angeles, CA

Music Artist

Film Producer

1.Name a person, book, and moment that served as a catalyst for the pursuit of your passion?
Person: My memory is flooded by a middle school pizza party where I consumed way too much pizza. I got terribly sick, and had to miss two days of school. I was in bed for 30+ hours listening to Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book over and over. It changed me. The melodies, the spirit behind the lyric… I was hooked. That was the day I knew music was going to narrate my life. I just didn’t know how at the time. From that day on, I listened to Stevie at least once a day until I graduated high school.

Book: The Beatles by: Bob Spitz.  It was amazing to read their story and see how life wove their individual journeys together. It really made me hope for more. I soaked in their successes, and was warned by their mistakes.

Moment: The day I got married, changed my life for ever. My wife is the most amazing cheerleader and wise sounding board. She has been the single human force that drives me to pursue my passion. Best decision of my life.

2. What risks did you have to take along the way and how did they interact with your fears?
I think the most notable risk was leaving a “full ride” basketball college scholarship to pursue music. Making that decision was one of the hardest that I’ve ever had to do. EVERYONE was so disappointed with me… It was the first time I heard my father cry. He wept… I’m the youngest of four, and I was the first of his children to have an opportunity to graduate college. And I gave up my scholarship right before my senior year. I was afraid of failing, of letting my parent’s down, and I think that fear pushed me to focus – to be very mindful and appreciative of every opportunity presented. To truly make the most of every waking hour. With the help of so many loving people, I did graduate on schedule. 🙂

3. What was the biggest and most unexpected pain (a blind side moment) in your journey? How has it changed you and your process?
I was in a band and we were very close to signing a record deal with Arista records. After several showcases, we were scheduled to meet with LA Reid, the president of the label at the time. One week before the meeting, we got a phone call that LA Reid had been fired. The next week, we got the call that Arista was closing its doors. I remember the excitement and deflation. Both equally prodigious. It was the goal we’d been working so hard to achieve, and in seconds, it was all taken away. I think that experience taught me to hold onto the things of this world loosely. Nothing is promised. Nothing is done until it’s done. It was a time that could have turned me bitter and untrusting, but instead it helped me to trust more in the people that actually love and care for me. The people that would be there for me whether I was “successful” or not.

4. What is a question that you don’t get asked but wish you would?
What’s your favorite movie quote?

5. Answer your desired question.
In the documentary Hoop Dreams, William Gates says: “People always say to me, ‘when you get to the NBA, don’t forget about me.’ Well, I should’ve said back, ‘if I don’t make it to the NBA, don’t you forget about me.’

Find out more about Will Gray’s music at www.willgraymusic.com

and also check out info on Will’s film, Broke and join the movement!


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