March 11 2016
Today's the DAY! Thank y'all so much for all the feedback and messages I've received, it has been so cool and humbling at the same time. I pray you hear my heart and can feel the Holy Spirit speak to you through these songs.
To help with that, here is a breakdown of each song in little bite sized clips. I'm still a fan of music and this is how I'd like to hear about it, so I hope you agree.
Praise be to God!
March 10 2016
March 3 2016
50 SHADES VIDEO
Ahhhhhhhh, it feels so good to drop another visual from this project! Yep, I went ahead and called a song '50 Shades'. For those that don't know the book, I'll save you the details. For those that do, my name is pronounced 'Chris-tin', like the girls name. If you got a problem with that, call my parents! This is the realest track on the LP, no question. What you're seeing here is the first part of the song, before the transition comes in.
We picked this abandon building in Columbus because it just fit the song so well. I address a lot of personal things on the record. Every shade of Christon Gray. Old label relations, my marriage, friends, the bizness - I empty it all out.
I hope y'all enjoy this little video, but don't forget - the full version of the track is on The Glory Album - OUT NEXT WEEK!
March 3 2016
Well, thanks to the leap year, today is the last day of Black History Month. Looking back, I feel like this year had some greater importance given what has been happening in America recently; so with that in mind, I didn't want to let it pass without making a contribution.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Deray McKesson a couple of weeks ago as he was on his way to the White House to meet with President Obama. Saying this man is going places is an understatement. He's going places and making a difference. We connected when he came across 'Hello or Goodbye' on Spotify and added to his playlist on Saint Heron. We hit it off right away. He's a guy that I find so intriguing because, at only 30 years old he has been at the forefront of Black Lives Matter, has been a fixture on mainstream news outlets clarifying misconceptions about race, and now, he is running to become the mayor of Baltimore. Salute my brother.
In this chat we talk about his role in the BLM movement, Ferguson (including some footage from my visit to the scene where Mike Brown was murdered), and the song Blackmail (Black Male) from my upcoming album and how he feels interracial relationships are viewed in America.
February 12 2016
Man, I love Apple Music.
Y'all know I love streaming and all of my devices are Apple products, but that's not why I love them today. My heart is so full with gratitude as today 'Ft. Knox' was added to Apple Music's 'Best of the Week'. It was just literally 2 weeks ago that they put 'Open Door (See You Later)' on the same list. I have to really thank my label for making sure these songs got in the right hands.
Don't sleep. That honest, sincere, quality Jesus music is sneaking up on'em!
January 29 2016
DATE CHANGE ALERT!
So we did push the album back 2 weeks at the request of RCA's radio department, so March 11th 2016 it is!
While the cover was leaked online already, please enjoy this reveal in the meantime.
January 5 2016
Happy New Year!
May you seek the truth of God with the leading of the Holy Spirit in 2016! That's my prayer for me.
Did y'all enjoy your holidays? Did you eat too much? Did you get the perfect gift for someone?
I had a great time with my family. Life isn't always easy, but God sure does remind you of His goodness at just the right time.
So, as you may know by now, my new album will be out February 26th 2016. The only thing that may change that was a request from RCA to try 'Open Door (See You Later)' at radio. It wasn't even on the album, but the label loved it so much that we added it on at their request. The name 'The Glory Album' just fit so perfect. I'm trying to achieve glory in my life, I'm fighting everyday for the glory of my wife and daughter, and I'm trying to stand in the light of God's glory. Those are the themes of the album, so the name was just a forgone conclusion.
As of today, we still haven't received a marketing plan, but we couldn't wait any longer. What you've seen (the 2 dubplates and the Connor video), that was done in house at Tom Drawer. I still have faith that the label will come through! They believe in me and I believe in them!
In less than 2 months, you'll have The Glory Album. I pray it does for you what it's done for me.
Till the album drops...
December 17 2015
What a crazy ride. I mean, what. a. crazy. ride.
I had no idea when I signed up for this business what that would mean. Every piece of your personal life suddenly becomes everyone’s business. Friends become enemies, truth becomes fiction… soon broken telephone becomes your only line of communication.
If I’m being honest with myself, I felt led into this business and sometimes… maybe a lot of the times, I don’t want to do it. It can truly drain so much life from you. I’m so grateful for those moments at night when I sit and hope that whatever little talent the Lord may have given me shines a light on Him that can help a few people out in this world. I know music helps me.
So, wrap all the above into a 16 bar verse spit at different tempos, proceeding two of my favourite rappers in the game – and well, that’s my portion of Connor McDees. With the help of Skyzoo and my brother Taelor, we took a beat made by GiAngelo Power, Jaden Chada and the homie Max Stark and poured out our hearts. I never thought I’d be talking about this stuff; I never thought anyone cared. Well, we all have skeletons in our closets and the sooner we embrace that about one another, the sooner we will all live out the greatest commandments: To love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
The video was directed and produced by my good friend, and ‘Wanna’ director Christian Padron. My homie Kenny Harris shot a little too. It was a real family affair. We filmed the first portion of this video in Skyzoo’s neighborhood in Brooklyn. Right on the corner of Gates & St. James (All Biggie fans just went ham). We ate lunch in front of Skyzoo’s old house between takes. It was really important that this video was as honest as the lyrics.
So that led us to shoot the rest in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio. No place like home and this track needed that. I think Taelor and Sky destroyed their verses, I just hope you think mine sounds okay next to theirs.
And hey, if you like the shirt you saw in the video, you can cop it here.
Till the next song…
December 2 2015
Dubplate #2 - Title and Release Date enclosed. Shout out to my homie BJ on the cameo. #Elevationists4Life
November 15 2015
Back Like I Never Left!
Man, it feels GREAT to be dropping some new music to y'all soon.
My new album is finished and in the hands of the record label, I can't wait for you to hear it. In the meantime, its been too long since I've put out something for y'all to vibe to, so here it is: My quick little take on 'Charged Up' to hold you over. Don't sleep on me now, music is going to start coming at a continuous pace, I truly hope you like it. Y'all are what motivate me to keep making music, so this is for you.... LET'S GO!
August 22 2015
I've got good news and bad news, what do you want first?
I'll start with the good.............. The album is done!
Now, the bad............... we're holding it back.
When we signed to a major label, we brought with us an established fan base, a history of good music, a full service DIY approach and 25 years in the business between Shabby and myself. I remember Kirk saying in our first meeting, 'Why would you want to sign with a major?' Well, call me crazy, but it seems they still have the keys to the kingdom. For every Chance or Macklemore that makes it without having a direct deal, there are 100,000 others that you never hear about. We really just felt like that big machine would be able to pump out what we create and that synergy would be a 1+1=3 type thing.
At the moment, we're still working on that math.
See, we turned in the album but never received a marketing plan in return, just a release date. Shabby drafted one up in June, but we haven't heard anything on it yet. So, today I sit 2 months from my release date, album completed, and no marketing plan. It was a tough decision, but we asked for it to be pushed back until one is completed.
Now with Kirk's album coming out in November and the Christmas break right after that, we know this means it'll be at least the 1st quarter until it drops. We're going to use this time to tighten up some songs, maybe add one or two newbees, but make sure that we work with the label to get a marketing plan done. We want to take this message to the masses, that's what we signed for, that's what we're called to do.
I'm going to stay off here until I'm able to drop you some new music - keep up with me on Twitter & IG: @ChristonGray
Keep the prayers coming,
August 4 2015
Well, the squad just left.
This past week I've had the whole team here at The Flutter in Columbus getting the finishing touches done for this album (that is still nameless). Tom (I'm just going to call him Shabby from now on, I hope he doesn't mind) and I went to see Kirk and Ron a couple of weeks ago and played them 8 songs we had done. To our surprise and excitement, they liked them all!
Just when we thought it was time to bounce and grab some food, Kirk brought in the producer he's been telling us we HAVE to meet, Max Stark. Max has been doing a lot of work for Kirk's album and we hit it off right away. With 8 songs done, we knew we needed at least 2-4 more so we asked Max to play us some instrumentals he had cooked up already. Well, good night of living, what an animal he is! The first track he played us was CRAZY and it WILL be on the album. That was enough, we booked Max's flight to Columbus for this past week and we were off to the races.
So it was Max, Marlo, JB, me and Shabby (plus Crissy, Mya, Tracy and her pregnant belly) all working away. Shabby does it old school, with no ordering takeout and everything home made in the studio. He says it makes for better music when we live like a family, and I think he's right. That beat Max played us has turned into a song called 'Stop Me' which we finished this week (Lowkey - I also like that as a potential name for the album). We had a track written called 'Ft. Knox' that I did for another artist, but when it didn't make that album, we put it in the stash. By the time we were done dinner on the first night, Max had the beat and we finished the song.
As of now I can tell you we have 10 songs done, but I really want 2 more. We plan on turning this in in less than a month for an early fall release. Please stand by...........
June 23 2015
Man, this is a blog post I’ve been waiting a long time to write. Let’s cut to the chase. If you haven’t heard yet, on Friday June 19th 2015, I had the privilege of signing a record deal with one of my musical heroes, Kirk Franklin.
For the last couple of months, Ron Hill, President of Fo Yo Soul/RCA (and one of the coolest and most professional dudes you’ll ever meet in this business) and Tom Drawer have been working to try and put a record deal together. In my heart FYS is where I wanted to be, but these things take time, and the Lord determines the steps.
Things started to get serious on April 28th of this year, when we flew out to Atlanta to meet with Kirk and Ron. They were spending some time there because Kirk was doing tapings for his BET show, ‘Sunday’s Best’. When our plane landed that morning, we went directly to meet them for a bite to eat. I knew I was in the right place when the first thing Kirk asked me was about my family. How refreshing. He heard my songs, he knew why we were there, but what was more important to him was Christon Gray the man, and to me, that was a breath of fresh air. The four of us had a great time and headed off to the studio.
Kirk was also filming a reality special that day, so we had lots of camera crews and stuff following us around. That made it a little more challenging to talk business, but the good news was, we were there to talk music! We played him some songs and he did the same. If at brunch we bonded as men, at the studio we bonded as artists. Issac Carree stopped through and we all chopped it up for the cameras. If it was up to me, I woulda signed right there, but the day wasn’t over yet.
On our way to the airport, we stopped to have dinner and the four of us really got down to the nitty gritty. Throughout the course of the day we had already low-key framed a deal, so when we were done eating we shook hands, exchanged hugs and promised to work quickly to create a partnership. As we got to the airport, I laughed to myself and thought, “funny, today is also the day that ‘The Demos’ dropped on The Overflow. I would have never seen this coming three months ago. God is so Good!”
Over the next six weeks Tom Drawer, Fo Yo Soul, RCA and our respective legal teams crafted the structure of what would become the final agreement. Little items here and there were adjusted, but for the most part, the original deal stayed in place. I was so grateful that after my journey over the last 10 years this is where the Lord had brought me. It all made sense.
So the contract was done, but we wanted to think of a fun way to tell the fans about it. We weren’t about to give y’all some corny press release, right?
At Tom Drawer they think Vince McMahon is a marketing genius and they are always trying to do things that would make him proud! So we went with what we called ‘the Y2J plan’ (if you’re not a wrestling fan, don’t worry about it!)
We decided to leak information throughout the day through the people who had been so good to us over the last couple of months. First it was DJ Wade-O and The Overflow. We told them both on Friday morning what was going down. They put out the first round of leaks.
After that, we hit up New Release Today (f.k.a. New Release Tuesday) and gave them the next exclusive.
Finally, we gave the last one to the homie Chris Broussard.
He is way too important to be tweeting about me, but he has been in my corner and we wanted to give him the heads up. He would be the one to confirm that the announcement was indeed about signing a record deal. Hey, he was the one that leaked the news that LeBron was coming home to Ohio, so why not tell the world about another Ohio boy ‘going home’?
We blended that with the 3 Instagram posts that we placed throughout the day. The hardest part was trying to blur out the pics with Kirk so y’all wouldn’t know it was him. I saw some of you got it, and I thought that was pretty cool.
The next day was Saturday, and I was performing at Alive Fest. We worked with Tyler and Bill Graening to make sure everything was set up and good to go, but we had no doubts it would be. You know Alive Fest is going to be top notch. Shouts out to all of them for keeping the secret as well. A rain soaked day didn’t spoil the fun, as before I hit the stage we ran the video you saw above from the two giant walls at the main stage of the festival. I think my face says it all!
That was the ‘Y2J plan’. I hope you enjoyed the fun we had with it.
What’s next? Well, this is just the start, and one that I am very grateful for, but now it’s time to get to work. The label has put a lot of faith in us and more importantly, my fans have put their faith in me. I will work my tail off to ensure we can craft music that encourages, excites, edifies, trend sets, and most importantly, is fo yo soul (Zing! You know I had to get one in there)
Now, please forgive me, cause I’m about to get corny for a minute.
Thank you to Ron and the Fo Yo Soul family for making this happen and thanks to Kirk Franklin for believing in me and what we’re doing. Thanks to Tom Drawer for riding this wave with me. Thanks to Chris Taylor and Victoria Novak at TKO Lawyers for guiding the path.
The most important acknowledgements need to go to:
My family, for loving me and always supporting me. God gave me such a wonderful wife and a beautiful daughter, supportive parents and the coolest brother and sister I could ask for. And to my closest friends, who are family, you know who you are, and we’re all in this together.
The fans; your reaction to this news was kinda overwhelming. I won’t let you down.
My Father in heaven; for second chances, grace, strength, and trusting me to spread His word with a pen and a microphone.
June 4 2015
How are y’all doing out there?
Seriously, how are things in your world? Hit me up on Twitter or IG and let me know what’s cracking. I’d love to hear from you, whether it’s wonderful news or if you need some prayer, reach out friends.
As for me, the last couple of weeks have been fun! I just got back from a great visit to the city that never sleeps. Shouts to Chris Broussard for having me out to the 2nd annual K.I.N.G. Above The Rim Celebrity Hoop Challenge.
It was nice catching up with some friendly faces.
Big shout out to the homie Skyzoo for being a great host all weekend.
We shot a video for his song ‘Playing Favorites’, featuring yours truly, which will be on his new album ‘Music For My Friends’ dropping on June 23rd. Dude is a beast on the mic and a true gentlemen for real. We may have shot something else too, but why spoil the surprise.
Photo by: Christian Padron
Lastly, it was an honor to get up with illmind!, one of the best producers in the game right now. We spent some time at RMG studios and it’s safe to say that it wasn’t a wasted visit *insert dead stare emoji here*
On the label front, we’re still talking to a few parties, but nothing is done yet. These are big decisions I have to make, but whatever the Lord has in store for me, I’ll be ready… and I can promise you’ll know :)
OHIO – see you at Alive Fest June 20th, come holler at cha boy!
May 18 2015
And so it goes…
Been a little odd over the past couple of weeks not recording new music. I mean, that had pretty much been the MO for the last few months really: Non-stop writing and recording.
All told, I felt good about getting a little room to breathe, but now we’re back on the grind.For my fans outside the US, I know you wanted to hear the songs, and I’m sorry you missed a couple. Let me explain my reason:
It was really important for me to give them exclusively to The Overflow. I believe streaming is the future of this industry and I want to be one of the first artists in our community to fully embrace it. I mean, $5 bucks and you have unlimited access to over 400,000 songs? Exclusives? New Releases on the day they come out? It may take some time, but there has never been a more consumer friendly offering in the history of music than streaming (of course, if you don’t count online piracy, but I know as Christians we don’t steal...*cough*) . And artists, the more people who subscribe, the more revenue you can earn –get all them facts and stop reading artists blogs! Oh wait, I mean, stop reading other artists blogs ;)
Pulpit session done – moving on.
Now that The Demos has finished its run on The Overflow, I have a little announcement to make… That’s it. It’s done. There will be no release of The Demos. Not in the US, not in Canada, not the UK, nowhere… *waits for tomatoes to stop being thrown*
I have BETTER news :)
There is a new worldwide album coming…. And you won’t miss a thing
Details to follow shortly…
May 1 2015
CREDITS: THE DEMOS
As promised, below you will find the full album credits for ‘The Demos’.
This was quite a fun process that has us in my hometown, Wit’s studio and Toronto. Thanks to my wife and daughter for letting me be out the house for a bit, and of course for supporting this crazy journey. All the producers and writers you’ll see below deserve the credit, so hats off to them. Thanks to Wit and Kelly for always having us at their crib and making it feel like home every time. Big shouts to Promise for bringing together the right team when we were in the 6ix. Thanks to the Shaban family for everything. Lastly, we do this to glorify the Lord, so we hope that through this music, our Savior enters the hearts of all the listeners. Pray you enjoyed ‘The Demos’ -
‘The Masters’ is coming soon……………..
1. ‘Afraid With You’
(C. Gray, E. Bradley, C. Shaban, J. Baker)
Produced By Christon Gray
Piano: Christon Gray
Mix & Master: Wit
2. ‘Open Door (See You Later)’
(J. Chada, E. Shahbazian, C. Gray, M. Torres, K. Shahbazian, C. Shaban)
Produced By Wit & Jaden Chada
Bass: John McNeill
Rhodes: Christon Gray
Mix & Master: Wit
3. ‘Connor McDees’
(J. Chada, J. St. John, C. Gray, C. Shaban)
Produced By Giangelo Power & Jaden Chada
Bass: Marlo Scott
Additional vocals: Promise
Mix: Giangelo Power
4. ‘Light On’ (Groove Mix)
(B. Reith, E. Shahbazian, C. Gray, C. Shaban)
Produced By B. Reith & Wit
Bass: Marlo Scott
Mix & Master: Wit
(C. Gray, A. Lacey, M. Shaban, C. Shaban, M. Scott)
Produced By Christon Gray, Giangelo Power & Matt Shaban
Piano: Christon Gray
Guitars: Matt Shaban
Bass: Marlo Scott
Mix: Giangelo Power
April 27 2015
TOMORROW’S THE DAY.
SO...the finals have been delivered to The Overflow.
We ended doing a few different songs, so picking what was going on this EP for The Overflow proved challenging. We had 8 to pick through, but we decided that 5 finals would make up ‘The Demos’.
We had to keep in mind that we’re doing something VERY different by releasing these songs as demos (hence the album title ‘The Demos’). You may hear some vocals that are off, you may hear some ‘pops’ in the recording, you may even hear some arrangements that could be better, but that’s the point! Still, we wanted to ensure that we gave you some heat, so hopefully you agree.
You’ll hear a total of 5 songs, the 3 we dropped this month and 2 additional ones.
The first new track is called ‘Connor McDees’. It’s a straight Hip-Hop record. Aggressive, builds momentum, no chorus, we went old school with it… We might not even upgrade this demo! The lil’ homie Jaden Chada supplied the mainline and the incredibly talented Giangelo Power brought it to life.
The second one we went a little off the board with it…. It’s a Worship song called ‘Nowhere’ and has a slight ‘Arena’ feel to it. This is a track that, when we release the final version, we hope churches around the country will sing on Sunday mornings. Wrote this one with a couple members of the Shaban family and my main man Marlo, as we took a melody and idea that I had cooked up with my friend Amante Lacey.
Don’t worry about keeping score. I’ll drop a track listing with all the credits later this week.
As far as recording - Toronto was a blast. The Island Crew was out in full effect. Shouts to my brother Promise for bringing the whole thing together and to Rookz at Sandbox Studios for making us feel right at home.
Remember, this EP is available ONLY on The Overflow App and you can get it in the App Store, Google Play, or by visiting TheOverflow.com. It’s just for my friends in the US during that time, but leave it with us, we may have a release for you soon.
Actually, it’s safe to say we have 7 songs ready for the next album…….. coming soon?
Okay, I’m traveling tomorrow, so hit me all day with your thoughts. I do this for y’all.
April 22 2015
Countdown Is On.
Not wanting to face the mountain in front of me at the moment, I’ve decided to type a blog post. Maybe it’ll make me feel better to know you’re in this mess with me.
I’ve got 6 days left and I still have 4 songs to complete for ‘The Demos’ EP. This project came together so quickly that we didn’t have the rollout and scheduling we normally do. I mean, I’ve never had to have 4 new songs done 10 days before a commercial release. I guess that’s the new way this industry works now, and to be honest, it’s pretty cool. I like the pressure cause I think it makes better songs.
You’ll be the judge of that.
So, I’m heading up to Toronto after church on Sunday and not leaving until we’re done. I still have some writing and arranging to do, but that’s usually the case in the studio. The Raps are playing Game 2 at home on Tuesday, so I’m praying we wrap this up by then.
A guy can dream, can’t he?
Been playing around with The Overflow App the last week. Can’t believe they were covered in Forbes. I love when Kingdom work reaches the masses in a positive way. Glad to be partnered with them for this project. I’ll save the commercial, just go download it :)
Being home in Columbus the last couple of weeks has been nice. This weekend I'll be celebrating 6 years with my better half. Mya is growing up so fast and I can’t believe I get to be her Daddy. She’s been bugging me about her publishing share for ‘Light On’, so I told her to call my lawyer ;-) Stay up on my IG account, I’ll be posting from the studio all week.
T-Minus 6 Days…………………..
April 4 2015
When I made School of Roses I knew it was going to be a different album.
I knew I wanted to be vulnerable, but I didn’t want to scare people away. See, there aren’t many cats that talk about the struggles in their marriage or the temptations we sometimes face as artists in their music. I was going to do that. I spoke about a lot of things that were hurtful and private to me and my family, but I did it with hope! I did it so that all those couples that were going through similar things could relate. I wanted to help all my fellow brothers and sisters who weren’t about sweeping their issues under the rug, who wanted healing and connection in their relationships, just like I did. While doing all of that, I began to realize that I was striking a nerve with y’all and you felt where I was coming from.
During the recording, release and aftermath of SOR, it was becoming clear to me that while I was grateful for the platform Collision Records had given me, I felt we were going in different directions. Not one bad and one good, just different. After some months had passed, I knew the time was right to make a change.
In mid-November of last year, I sent an email to Collision Records asking to end our recording agreement. We had always been told when we felt like it was time to leave, we’d be prayed for and wished well on our new journey. I knew it would take some work to get done because Collision had invested time and money into my career and it was important to me that they received fair compensation for that. So, this past February a deal was reached for me to leave, and I began my new chapter.
One thing that is very important for me to get across is that I love Collision. I love and support my W.L.A.K.’s brothers and hope to collaborate and support each other till we decide to leave the game. I’m very excited for what they have coming out and if what I’m seeing come out of Collision is any indication of their future, then I’ll be the first to say, their future looks extremely bright.
The new songs you’ve been hearing me put out are from some writing sessions I did last month. I’m always in the lab, but it had been too long since I gave any newness to my fans, so we went in and cooked. These songs and some additional new ones will be released on an EP exclusively through The Overflow streaming app on April 28th 2015. So, if you missed one, you can download the app to enjoy them. Just some fun demos till the album drops :)
That said, we haven’t signed a new record deal yet. There have been a few offers, some have been good, some have been bad, but those discussions are happening on a daily basis. When the pen hits the paper, y’all be the first to know.
I want to personally thank each and every one of you for going on this journey with me. I can promise that the best of Christon Gray is yet to come. Peace and blessing in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!