Singer/songwriter Nicole Wray rose to fame under the wing of rapper/producer Missy Elliott. After being signed as the first artist on Elliot’s label, The Goldmind Inc. In 1997, things seemed bright for the young songbird.
But after two studio albums, ‘Make it Hot’ and ‘Electric Blue’, under the Goldmind/Elektra imprint, it was clear that being a new artist signed to a fairly new label wasn’t the best way for Ms. Wray to pursue her career. In late 2003 Wray signed to Roc-A-Fella and released the single, “If I Was Your Girlfriend.” After the now infamous split up of the founding fathers of the Roc, Wray found herself with an unreleased album, ‘Lovechild.’
After a tumultuous stint with the majors Nicole Wray has decided to go the indie route by signing with A.Fam Entertainment Inc. and has since been working with Aftermath producer, Focus on new material for her upcoming project. In the meantime, catch a small taste of Ms. Wray.
Singersroom: When you signed to Roc-A-Fella it seemed like everything was good. You had a single that was gaining buzz and you were ready to release the album but then things at the label fell apart. Can you talk about what happened?
Nicole Wray: I can’t really get too deep into that situation because that was a situation that happened between Jay-Z and Damon but, I left on a peaceful note. I left the label and kind of went on to do other things. When I was in the situation I was working on the album. We had changed the name and everything. I was in the studio working with 7 Aurelius and had like thirteen songs with him. But then that situation happened and I ended up leaving the label.
Singersroom: How have you been keeping busy since that situation ended?
Nicole Wray: I’ve been in the studio over the years. I put together a mixtape entitled InDepeDance Day Vol. 1 with the Aphilliates, Don Cannon and a couple of other artists. As for the album I’ve been working with Focus, he’s working with Aftermath and Dr. Dre’s album. Also, another up and coming producer out of New York but he’s out here in Atlanta now. Dame Grease, who did a lot of tacks for DMX. Still in the game writing and recording.
Singersroom: With this new material, can fans expect you to be taking any risks with any new sounds or will you stick to the style you’re known for?
Nicole Wray: With this album I can say I won’t be taking any risks. I’ve been gone for a minute and I don’t want to confuse my fans. I’m going to be doing a lot of different things with my voice but for the most part the album is going to be straight up R&B. The sound is much bigger. My voice has matured over the years. I’m also doing a lot of writing of the subject matter so the fans will definitely relate to it.
Singersroom: What would your ideal situation be to get this album out?
Nicole Wray: Right now I’m independent and I’m actually looking for artists myself. I’m looking to groom and write for other artists. Just getting into another side of this thing. I’ve been with the majors. I’ve been in this game for a while but, I just feel like it’s time for me to get into some other things. I’m just really into being creative and looking to bring some other people aboard. So, right now it’s all independent. I’m just rocking with my team and a few other people that really believe in me and believe in the things I’m doing right now.
Singersroom: You are a very talented vocalist but due to label situations you haven’t been able to get to that next level. Do you sometimes feel like you’re overlooked?
Nicole Wray: I wouldn’t say I’ve been overlooked so much as overshadowed. I’ve been in the game for a minute now. I do have a lot of talents other than singing. Being signed to an artist is very hard. As they’re doing what they need to do for them you can kind of get overlooked. I just want to take my time and help pave the way for another generation of music, which is something I didn’t really get a chance to do in the beginning.
Singersroom: You have been in and out of the spotlight for a few years now so fans have never really gotten a chance to know you. What are some things about your story you feel fans will gravitate towards?
Nicole Wray: Again I’ve been doing music since I was a child. I have a church background, raised in the church. My family was all into music. I’m very Jazz influenced. I [have] been doing this for a long time. I’ve been singing all my life. I’m very colorful. I just recently picked up the pen, started doing a lot of writing. I’m just trying to get my hands on everywhere. I’m just ready to give people this whole colorful, bubbly, soulful, jazzy, person I am.
Singersroom: Of the material you’ve completed so far, what are some of your favorite songs?
Nicole Wray: I have a song called “Dice Roll.” It’s about everyday life and everyday struggles. Whether you’re a dude on the street doing your thing or you’re working a regular nine to five. It’s about being able to deal with life. It’s a real jazzy record. It’s kind of like one of those songs written for the street but it has a jazz influence. That’s one of my favorites right now. I got a couple joints I did with Focus that I like, some ballads, some up-tempo joints. Songs that talk about everything, falling in love, falling out of love, why we fall in and out of love, you know, just those types pf records.
Singersroom: Do you have anyone you’d like to do a feature on the album?
Nicole Wray: We didn’t do the features too big. And it’s not that I don’t want to have features but I’m coming back out and I want everybody to know that Nicole Wray can hold her own. It’s always good to have a little help but I’m one of those artists that’s so overlooked that I don’t want to have to worry about being in anybody’s shadow. I don’t want people to be like “oh she needed such and such to come back'” and that’s not the case. I would love to do something with Lil’ Wayne, we’re trying to work that out. We’re in negotiations about that right now. I would love to get with R.Kelly. I would love to bring Lauryn Hill back. I would love to do something with Mary J. Blige. There’s this girl named Alice Smith that I’d love to get with, she’s out of DC. She’s incredible, I’d love to do something with her. But really, my list is short. I just want to get in the booth and sing.
Singersroom: You’ve always maintained a close relationship with your brother, songwriter and artist, Kenny Wray. Is he involved in your upcoming project?
Nicole Wray: Of course. My brother and I do a lot of writing together. That’s my dude right there. He’s also working on his project, out here in Atlanta with me. He comes over and works with me on my project and I go and work with him on his. We’re very close; we’re always writing and we’re about to get on the road and do some shows soon.
Singersroom: So you’re doing a promo tour with your brother?
Nicole Wray: We’ll be out there very soon, within the month. I need to get my face out there. I been in the studio working on these songs and now it’s time to get out there and let people hear them. All that information will be up on my web page, which will also be up very soon. In the meantime they can check me on my Myspace.com/therealnicolewray. —— By: Interview By Haaron Hines