written by Macy Gray for Huffington Post
“I don’t know how to get a 40-year-old woman on the radio. If she was 20, 25. This record would be incredible.” This quote comes from a powerful record label executive, just before she said no to signing me for my fifth album. And who would fault her? Everybody knows that a 40-year-old female recording artist is “geriatric.” While a 46-year-old president is the “new kid on the block,” a singer over 30 is just a few songs away from the nursing home of music.
The obvious remedies: Age defying crème, botox, face lifts, brow lifts, hair dye, Perricone Promises, super foods and denial. Lying about our age was once a quick fix, but Wikipedia has ruined that for everybody. Cosmetic touch-ups and diet discipline may take ten years off, but how do you go ten years back? How do you sing songs that are relevant to teenagers and who are you fooling if you try?
I am a single mother of three teenagers. My every day begins and ends with them. Breakfast – school – teachers – grades – basketball – piano – tennis – birthday parties – money – etc. The best part of the day is when they smile or laugh, because when they’re laughing or smiling, I know they’re OK. Even if its just for a minute, even if I don’t know what they’re happy about, it’s a relief. My biggest goal is to keep them talking, because that’s the only way I know what they’re thinking and what’s going on, so the most important thing I do all day, is listen.
Sometimes I feel alone and it gets me down. One of those times, I heard my daughter laughing in the next room and it didn’t necessarily make me feel better, but I exhaled, because I knew then that we were ok. That night, I wrote a song called “Beauty in the World.”
There’s a song on the album called “Kissed It” about staying in a bad relationship because the sex is so good. The first song on the album, “The Sellout” is about compromise. “Real Love” is a duet with Bobby Brown that talks about everlasting love. And “The Comeback” – about the day you realize that you cannot be who you are not. All of these are universal themes that even teenagers can relate to, but according to music industry experts, they’d much rather “Toot It and Boot It,” pop champagne, love gangsters and skater boys, wear the latest Gucci, and meet at the hotel lobby at 6 in the morning.
With very few exceptions, the gatekeepers send these three messages:
1. The younger generation has little substance
2. The music needs of the older crowd don’t matter…
3. Once a female artist turns 40, she should go away – maybe learn how to knit.
The truth is that as a mother of three teenagers, I can tell you that the music industry drastically underestimates the souls of the young. And that there are over 40 million women, in the United States alone, in their 30s, 40s and beyond, that are starving to be musically inspired and lyrically represented. While the fans miss out on great music because of age discrimination, there is still BEAUTY IN THE WORLD.”