Kristen Gray

Kristen Gray has been menaced on the phone by Iggy Pop. Lou Reed asked her to be his "doot-do-doot girl." Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics dressed her up in a red fright wig and nailed her to a wall. Funk great Bootsy Collins always wants to play with her. What's more, this is exactly what the Lenox, Mass., native and Berkshire School graduate wants out of life. It's never a dull moment when you're a backup singer. To be more precise, Gray is a singer, actress, dancer and model, an all-around entertainer overflowing with abundant talent and good looks, whose services to the above-named musicians have been rendered utterly professionally and without hanky- panky on stages, TV and film sets and in recording studios in New York, London and Paris. Since moving to New York City about seven years ago to pursue a career in the entertaiment business, Gray has recorded with Stewart, Collins, Buckethead, Ric Ocasek of the Cars and Tommy Shaw of Styx and Damn Yankees. Her vocals are prominently featured on Stewart's latest solo album, "Greetings From the Gutter," a timely bit of urban funk by the premiere producer of '80s-era synth-pop. Along with Lou Reed, she accompanied Stewart on a recent ``Late Show with David Letterman'' and on the same night at New York's hottest club, the Mercury Lounge, she helped Reed celebrate his birthday by singing backup on such classics as "Walk On the Wild Side," "Dirty Boulevard" and "Waiting for the Man." Gray joined Stewart before 15,000 screaming fans in London at the annual Prince's Trust benefit concert in December 1994. She currently can be seen on MTV in the video for Stewart's single, "Jealousy." She was a cast member of the Broadway production of the rock opera "Senator Joe." Her first single, a dance tune called "Mighty Love," recorded with the DJ Tension, is being released in the U.S., after already having garnered extensive club and radio play in London. When first meeting Gray, one might expect to encounter a city-toughened princess jaded by the flash of the paparazzi and late nights in downtown lofts hanging with the likes of Lou, Dave, Mick and Bootsy. These expectations are hard to reconcile with the doe-eyed, ingenuous young beauty I met recently at a trendy bistro in her hometown of Lenox where, between sips of soda and nibbles of shrimp, the twenty- something Gray spoke with the gee-whiz enthusiasm of a Mary Tyler Moore rather than the cynicism of a Marianne Faithfull about her life and career before and after leaving the Berkshires. "People say the music business is really tough and vicious," says Gray. "Maybe I've just been really lucky, but everybody has been so kind and sweet and really complimentary and just wonderful. No one has been diva-like or bitchy, no temper tantrums." Luck, in the form of good timing, undoubtedly has played some role in Gray's success so far, beginning with a visit home after her first semester at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, when she lunched with a former teacher, Irene McDonald, from the Berkshire School in Sheffield, who introduced her to a friend who had a friend who was casting a Broadway show. Within a matter of days Gray was singing for writer/director Thomas O'Horgan in his New York loft. The director of such acclaimed rock operas as "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Hair" cast Gray in "Senator Joe" (which was bound for Broadway) and two other shows he was planning to produce. Gray's brief college career thus came to an end, and the self-described "country granola girl," who lived on a farm with no TV in central Pennsylvania before coming to Lenox in 1980, moved to the heart of bohemia, New York's Greenwich Village, where she resides to this very day. "I was petrified," said Gray. "My dad showed me how to get to rehearsal, and that was it. For about the first month, I'd come straight home and never leave the house. I wouldn't even order in Chinese food, I was so scared of someone coming to the door

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