Five Things You Don't Know About Macy Gray

PHOTO Macy Gray is on Dancing with the StarsCRAIG SJODIN/ABC News
Macy Gray appears on this season's "Dancing with the Stars." Gray first burst onto the music scene with her debut album, "On How Life Is," and the hit single "I Try," both of which went to number one. She has gone on to sell more than 20,000,000 albums worldwide and has won and been nominated for five Grammy Awards and six MTV Video Music Awards.

Didn't know Macy Gray, that raspy-voiced singer with the funky vibe, could waltz?

Nor did she, until she started rehearsing for the ninth season of "Dancing With the Stars."

Gray, who has been paired with professional dancer Jonathan Roberts, told last week: "I'm working on the waltz every day and I think I have it down."

The "I Try" singer is definitely outside of her comfort zone. She has spent weeks practicing before her dancing debut when the three-night premiere of "DWTS" continues tonight.

"I'm definitely preparing myself, because it's live television and no one wants to look like an ass," she said. "There's a lot of competition -- three athletes, two trained dancers, Donny Osmond, who is the ultimate legend."

"I'm starting to accept that I'm going to do it," she continued. "I usually know what's going to happen with me when it comes to performing. I don't like to do anything I don't have complete control over. I don't even know why I'm doing this. My mother talked me into this."

"I don't know how this is going to go," said the Grammy-winning singer.

Gray is about to find out -- and possibly learn something new about herself. There are quite a few things about Gray that most people don't know. asked her to tell us about five of them:

Gray Hasn't Competed Since Her Days in Boarding School.

"I went to boarding school," she confessed. "My mom was a teacher and really big on education. She was always looking for the best schools. At a time when boarding schools were reaching out to minorities, we took advantage of that. I went to Western Reserve in Cleveland."

"I had to pick a sport every season," she continued. "I did volleyball in fall, basketball in winter and track in summer. I was good at track. I could run pretty good. I had a really good serve in volleyball, and after that I was useless."

Gray said she lasted at the boarding school for two years -- "I hated it" -- then her mom let her come back home to Canton, Ohio.

Gray Didn't Set Out to Be a Singer.

"I didn't start singing till my early 20s. I went to film school. I planned to be big movie producer or writer. In college I was always hanging out with musicians, hanging out in studios. Someone asked me to be in a band, in a jazz band, then a hard rock band. Then I was doing shows and Atlantic records saw us at the Roxie. It was really gradual and a real surprise to me too."

Gray Wants to Sing Jazz.

For the last 18 months, Gray has been working on a new album, one that might surprise her fans. "It's a fresh new thing," she said. "I'm really excited to see how people will react to it. It's very different. It's still soul music but with a lot more up energy and electric. It's cool and I love listening to it."

"My last two albums, my label wanted me to do a specific thing," she said. "I freed myself from all that. There are lots of things I want to do and can do. I want to do a jazz record, a duet, a bunch of stuff."

Gray Is a Mother – of Three.

"They're 14, 13 and 11," said the 42-year-old singer. "Yes, I have teenagers. They've been traveling with me since they were little. They all play an instrument."

Gray Enjoys Good Food.

"I love starchy food, potatoes, rice, any kind of bread," she said. "I put Grand Marnier in my hot chocolate. If you ever have a cold, put it in your tea, and it chases it right away. And you feel really good right after."