Christon Gray

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Christon Gray
Christon Gray Piano Video Shoot in New York September 2015.jpg
Background information
Birth nameChriston Michael Gray
Also known asFlow Jackson
Born (1986-07-18) July 18, 1986 (age 32)
Columbus, Ohio, U.S.
OriginColumbus, Ohio U.S.
GenresContemporary R&B, Christian hip hop
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, rapper, producer
InstrumentsVocals, Piano
Years active2006 (2006)–present
Associated actsKirk Franklin, Taelor Gray, W.L.A.K., JGivens, The Elevationists
Websitechristongray.com

Christon Michael Gray (born July 18, 1986) is an American R&B singer and rapper born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. He is a Christian and calls his music "about being human". It is this approach that has allowed him to be successful as a mainstream artist.

Background[edit]

Gray was born Christon Michael Gray on July 18, 1986, in Columbus, Ohio. His parents, Arthur Gray (a former choir leader), and his mother Leigh Ann (a trained soprano) have two other children; Christon's older brother, Taelor Gray, who is also a rapper and pastor, and his younger sister Aubrey, who is currently a college student. He resides in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife, Shana Gray and has a daughter named Mya Blue.

Music career[edit]

2006–11: Elevationists & EWEWM[edit]

In 2006, Gray was a part of The Elevationists with his brother, Taelor and childhood friend BJ (James Hazley). After a few years together, they disbanded the group.

In 2011, Gray, with the help of writing partner and music director Marlo Scott, released an album entitled Even With Evil With Me. The independent release spawned the timeless track ‘Isle of You’, which quickly led to record label interest. Before the year was out, he was signed to Collision Records.[1]

2012–14: Collision Records & School of Roses[edit]

In 2012, he began working on his retail and label debut for Collision, but as it morphed, he decided to release it as a free mixtape.[2] Body Art was a hit among Gray's fans and featured the label's roster as well as other artists and producers from the CHH genre. It caught many fans off guard because it was more of a rap album than EWEWM, which was the album's intention.[3]

Early in 2013, the label released the collective album We Live As Kings (W.L.A.K.). As a member of the four-man group, Christon was featured on the majority of the tracks. The album went on to top the Billboard Gospel chart and crack the top 10 on the Rap and Christian charts. It also contained the cut 'King In Me' which was used as the theme song to American Idol’s Super Bowl commercial in 2014.[4]

On March 25, 2014, Gray released his 2nd studio album entitled School of Roses. It included fan favorites ‘Vanish’ (feat. Swoope) and ‘Wanna’ (feat. JGivens) which peaked at #15 on the Billboard Live Trending chart. This was more of an R&B album than Body Art, and it debuted at the top of the overall charts on iTunes, and hit #44 on the Billboard Top 200 and #5 on Top R&B Albums.[5]

2015 – January 2017: FYS/RCA & The Glory Album[edit]

In early 2015, Gray began releasing music on his own, prompting fans to question whether or not he was still a part of Collision and W.L.A.K. The first track 'Open Door (See You Later)' was posted on his Soundcloud page in March of 2015.[6] Still not addressing his status, one week later he posted the beautiful piano led love ballad, 'Afraid With You'. Lastly, he posted ‘Light On’ featuring B.Reith the following week. On April 28, 2015, after confirming he was leaving Collision in an interview with Wade-O[7] & Rapzilla,[8] Gray released an EP called The Demos to be streamed exclusively on the Christian music-streaming app, "The Overflow[9]". The album went to be the most streamed project on the entire service for 2015, with all 5 tracks occupying spots #1 - #5 the week of its release.

It became clear that he was using these songs to get himself a new record deal, and in June 2015, he revealed that he had signed with Kirk Franklin's label, Fo Yo Soul Recordings/RCA.[10] Kirk himself made the announcement via video screen at Alive Fest in Ohio on June 20, 2015.[11] He subsequently removed The Demos to work on his third retail album and label debut.[12]

On November 18, 2015, Rapzilla.com released an interview via email with Gray in which he said his debut with Fo Yo Soul had been completed and was being scheduled for release during "the colder part of 2016".[13]

A couple weeks later, on December 2, 2015, Gray released a freestyle video that included the name and release date of his next project, The Glory Album. Gray's debut album with Fo Yo Soul/RCA was set to be released on March 11, 2016.[14]

Two weeks after that, he debuted the first new track off the album on Vevo called ‘Connor McDees’ featuring Brooklyn emcee, Skyzoo and his brother Taelor.

Leading up to the album release, he was chosen as one of ESPNs Artists of the Month for March.[15] The station highlighted 3 tracks, ‘Open Door (See You Later)’, 'The Glory Pt. I' and ‘Stop Me' on all of their regular programing. The later track went on to be used in commercials for Honda,[16] HBO’s Ballers,[17] FOX's Lethal Weapon[18] & RocNation Sports.[19] It was also used at the ESPY Awards during the shows final segment.[20] The remix of the song was debuted during his interview on the Sway in the Morning show in mid September 2016.[21] The song continued success in 2017, being used on FOX Sports programming worldwide, as well as the team song for a number of professional sports franchises. In 2018, the song was used as the theme to Warner Bros Pictures blockbuster 'Rampage'[22] starring The Rock and as the intro song to EA Sports 'Madden '19' NFL Video game.[23] For the 2018-19 NBA Season, ESPN is using the song for its in NBA Studio show.

Also during this time, Apple Music selected ‘Open Door (See You Later)’ and ‘Ft. Knox’ as ‘Best of the Week’ singles back to back. As well, TGA received key placements on Amazon Music, iTunes, Google Play, TIDAL, and Spotify.[24]

The Glory Album was released on March 11, 2016. The LP went on to again claim the #5 position on the Billboard R&B charts, while also hitting #6 on the Christian chart.

Gray was chosen as the first ever youth ambassador[25] for the BET Awards in June 2016.

After just one album with the label, Gray let fans know that he had officially left RCA in January 2017.[26] He did not elaborate on the reasons, but said when the time was right he would speak about it. According to the post, it was a business decision and he wishes all parties involved well.

2017 - No Hesitation and Return to FYS/RCA Records[edit]

In March 2017, Gray, along with Chris Shaban started their own Podcast entitled 'Chris' Podcast'. The first two episodes included guests Ty Montgomery, Chris Broussard and Darren Haynes. Gray mentioned that this was a pilot program and that they were looking to bring it back sometime in 2019.

On July 28, Gray dropped a single called 'No Hesitation' independently. This was his first release since leaving Fo Yo Soul/RCA Records. In an interview with Wade-O, Gray said, "You know the inspiration for the song came from me watching the BET Awards, and I saw 'Crae's speech, and I know he caught some flack for that... I talked to Lecrae the other day, and I told him, I come from that world... I grew up listening to them and without them, you (Wade) would not be having an interview with me... so I told him (Lecrae), yo, I didn't expect you to go back and apologize, so I did it for you.[27]" The song would become another hit for Gray, and he went on to perform it live at the 2018 Stellar Awards.

A week later, on August 4, he released 'Shoulda Known', which included a sample of his song, 'Burning House (Roses 102)' off the School of Roses album.[28] It featured long-time collaborator and friend, JGivens.

On Sunday November 5, Christon Gray was announced as the new Worship Leader at Christ's Church in Mason, Ohio.[29]

By the end of the year, an agreement had been reached for him to rejoin Fo Yo Soul and the new staff at RCA Inspiration in Nashville. It would not become public until later on in 2018.[30]

2018 – Clear The Heir[edit]

By the end of 2017 and leading into 2018, Gray let fans know that he was back writing, but did not elaborate.[31] There weren't anymore indications until a post on Instagram in February with Chris Shaban and Ty Montgomery, taken from a writing session in Cambridge, Ontario.[32] He would later go on to tell that 4 songs were already written by this point, with two making the album, 'Seekrets' and 'Together Forever'.

In March, there came a string of posts from the studio that included MD and producer Marlo Scott, Producer GiAngelo Power, Pastor Trevor DeVage, Montgomery and Shaban. Gray said in a post on Twitter, "...there was a week in March 2018 when everything started to come together. That week we did 'Grow Up', 'You & I (Sampson's Lament)' and brushed up a few other songs that made the cut."[33] Those other songs were 'Seekrets', 'Together Forever' and the instrumental to 'Clear The Heir'.

In April at the Stellar Awards, rumors started swirling that Christon had re-signed with Fo Yo Soul/RCA Records, and while it had happened months before, it was a post with Kirk Franklin that said "Welcome home" that started the buzz.[34] One more studio picture that month and Gray took some time off of his social media and no further updates came until late in the summer.

On August 2, a post from famed Canadian studio Metalworks that read "October 19" and had no sound, but a studio full of his collaborators started his promotion run for the album.[35] It would come to light later on that October 19 would be the release date for the album.

On August 24, he dropped the first single 'Together Forever' with credit going to Fo Yo Soul/Essential Sound/Sony. The track contained a portion of his September 2016 interview on Sirius XM's 'Sway In The Morning' where he discussed divorce.

On September 14, he released the albums second single 'Time Out', produced by Toronto's GiAngelo Power. That instrumental had come from a writing session with JGivens in November 2016.[36] The song would go on to be featured on Spotify's 'Beastmode' Playlist and peak at #11 on Urban Christian CHR radio BDS reporting list, 'The Hot Chart'[37]. It would spend 6 months on that chart.

On September 21, RCA released the music video for 'Time Out' and it featured a host of Christian athletes including Ty Montgomery, Mike Conley, A.J. Styles, Steven Sousa Jr., Andre Ward, Michelle Plouffe and more. The songs co-writer and video director, Chris Shaban said, "Growing up as a Christian kid (in Toronto), I was always inspired by athletes who excelled at a high level and love Jesus, so we decided we'd like to try and motivate the next generation the same way." It was accompanied by the #TimeOutChallenge that asked fans to rap over the songs instrumental with the winner receiving a signed pair of Jordan Brand shoes from Conley and a signed Green Bay Packers jersey from Montgomery.[38]

On October 12, Gray released the third single from the album, 'Grow Up'. It was immediately added to numerous playlists on Spotify, including 'New Music Friday', 'New Music Friday Christian', 'Blessings', and 'The Flow'.

Discography[edit]

Title Details US
R&B
US
Hip Hop/ R&B
US
Digital
School of Roses Released: March 25, 2014

Label: Collision

CD, digital download

5 9 13
The Glory Album Released: March 11, 2016

Label: RCA/ Fo Yo Soul

CD, digital download

5 14 22

References[edit]

  1. ^ "School Of Roses by Christon Gray | CD Reviews And Information | NewReleaseToday". www.newreleasetoday.com. Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  2. ^ Horton, Chad. "Christon Gray 'Body Art'". Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  3. ^ "Christon Gray "Body Art" – Putting the 'Art' back in Artist". 2012-09-28. Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  4. ^ Christon Gray (2015-03-30), American Idol Superbowl Ad (2014) ft. 'King In Me' by Swoope and Christon Gray, retrieved 2016-08-23
  5. ^ "PROMO". CHRISTON GRAY. Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  6. ^ "New Music: Christon Gray - "Open Door (See You Later)"". 2015-03-20. Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  7. ^ "Christon Gray Talks Leaving Collision & 'The Demos' + Drops New Freestyle". 2015-04-09. Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  8. ^ Daniels, David. "Christon Gray announces departure from Collision Records, new EP". Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  9. ^ "Christon Gray to release EXCLUSIVE EP on TheOverflow! - TheOverflow.com: Streaming Christian Music". 2015-04-07. Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  10. ^ "BLOG". CHRISTON GRAY. Retrieved 2016-08-23.
  11. ^ "Kirk Franklin Signs Singer/Rapper Christon Gray to Fo Yo Soul Recordings". 2015-06-23. Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  12. ^ "BLOG". CHRISTON GRAY. Retrieved 2016-08-23.
  13. ^ Daniels, David. "Christon Gray talks upcoming album, Kirk Franklin and says he has a song called '50 Shades'". Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  14. ^ Daniels, David. "Christon Gray reveals release date of new album alongside freestyle". Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  15. ^ "March Music of the Month on ESPN!". Retrieved 2016-08-23.
  16. ^ Honda (2016-05-06), Another Milestone - 2016 Honda Civic Coupe :30, retrieved 2016-09-14
  17. ^ HBO (2016-07-17), Ballers Season Two: Episode #2 Preview (HBO), retrieved 2016-09-14
  18. ^ "Riggs - Twitter Search". twitter.com. Retrieved 2017-04-24.
  19. ^ "Instagram video by Roc Nation Sports • Jul 30, 2016 at 7:50pm UTC". Instagram. Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  20. ^ Team USA Live (2016-07-13), ESPYS 2016 - LeBron James Wins Best Male Athlete, retrieved 2016-09-14
  21. ^ "Christon Gray on Christian-Groupies, Marriage Challenges, Racial Injustice + 5 Fingers of Death – Sways Universe". Retrieved 2017-04-24.
  22. ^ Warner Bros. Pictures (2018-02-13), RAMPAGE - OFFICIAL TRAILER 2 [HD], retrieved 2018-10-06
  23. ^ CurtWork (2018-08-06), MADDEN NFL 19 ANTONIO BROWN INTRO [STOP ME] [CHRISTON GRAY], retrieved 2018-10-06
  24. ^ "PROMO". CHRISTON GRAY. Retrieved 2016-09-14.
  25. ^ Sarachik, Justin. "Christon Gray was First Ever Youth Ambassador at the BET Awards". Rapzilla.com. Retrieved 2017-04-24.
  26. ^ "HOME". CHRISTON GRAY. Retrieved 2017-04-24.
  27. ^ The Wade-O Radio Video Channel (2017-08-07), Christon Gray on Story Behind "No Hesitation", Leaving RCA, and More, retrieved 2018-10-06
  28. ^ "Christon Gray on Instagram: "My 2nd single 'Shoulda Known' featuring my brother @pray4jgivens is now available to stream worldwide. I've heard from a lot of School of…"". Instagram. Retrieved 2018-10-06.
  29. ^ <iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fccmasoncampus%2Fvideos%2F2111942965486135%2F&show_text=0&width=560" width="560" height="315" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe>
  30. ^ "Christon Gray on Rapzilla.com LIVE with Chris Chicago - Ep. 115". rapzilla.com. Retrieved 2018-10-06.
  31. ^ "Christon Gray on Instagram: "WRITING // 2018"". Instagram. Retrieved 2018-10-06.
  32. ^ "Christon Gray on Instagram: "All Amour"". Instagram. Retrieved 2018-10-06.
  33. ^ "Christon Gray on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2018-10-06.
  34. ^ "Christon Gray on Instagram: "Welcome home"". Instagram. Retrieved 2018-10-06.
  35. ^ "Christon Gray on Instagram: "October 19"". Instagram. Retrieved 2018-10-06.
  36. ^ "Christon Gray on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2018-10-06.
  37. ^ "Christon Gray on Instagram: "I serve the Lord and I'm honored to represent Him wherever He puts me or my music."". Instagram. Retrieved 2019-04-12.
  38. ^ "Christon Gray on Instagram: "Listen to my boy @mac11 aka 'Captain Clutch' and join the #TimeOutChallenge right now. His signed Jordan's and @ty_kingdomcitizen signed…"". Instagram. Retrieved 2018-10-06.

External links[edit]