The Woman Behind The Voice: An Interview with Jordan Gray
An inspirational singer, songwriter, author and LGBT activist, Jordan Gray took the nation by storm when she performed on The Voice UK. Though this was the first time she we saw her on screen, it was not the first time she had held audiences captive with her stunning vocals and musical talent.
Now one of our exclusive acts, hand picked by Scarlett Entertainment for her unique talent, Jordan Gray talks to us about her incredible journey, what you can expect from her performance at your event and what’s next!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your journey before we saw you on The Voice UK.
Jordan: I’ve been a professional recording artist for about 10 years. I came straight out of college into music and have never done anything else. I’m a transgender lady of course! I started my transition about 3 years ago, so 2 .5 years before The Voice. I actually came out to my home county of Essex live on stage. I was being given an award at the Essex Entertainment Awards and I thought it was as good a time as any, and if you can’t come out to your hometown… It’s been wonderful.
We know The Voice holds a special place in your heart. Why did you choose The Voice over any other TV talent show?
Jordan: I think it’s the one with the most integrity. I was the first transgender person on the show and I don’t think any other show would have dealt with it in the same way; it would have been sensationalised and made into this big deal. Whereas The Voice just let me be who I am, which is a singer!
Tell us a bit about your work as an LGBT activist and Trans ambassador?
Jordan: I initially got into being an LGBT activist and Trans ambassador through the flagship scheme ‘Educate and Celebrate’, and I’ve been doing this since my initial Trans journey I suppose. Once you get over the initial culture shock you then become confident enough to go out and talk to, and help, other people.
‘Educate and Celebrate’ is tied with a publishing house that does a lot of LGBT books for kids, and so as part of it I go into schools for a week or so at a time - I get up with the teachers every morning! I get to teach music and talk about LGBT and we tie it all into a fun programme. I work with primary school kids and college age kids. I just love meeting people that have new ideas about the whole thing; there are a lot of misconceptions so it’s good to be able to talk to groups with a lot of energy and dynamism and get kids talking about these things. It’s important!
I’ve also played Sparkle Festival for the last 4 years. It’s the world’s biggest Transgender festival held in Manchester, and that ties in with a lot of the organisations I work with.
Which has been your favourite event to work on in this capacity?
Jordan: I think that Sparkle Festival has something very special about it. At this one just gone I ended up performing in the Loft Attic Bar on Canal Street, and Cody Frost who I met on The Voice turned up because she lives in Birmingham and we did a duet of ‘Hallelujah’. It got the whole room singing and when we dropped the music out everyone just kept singing and singing and it was amazing! I loved the feeling of unity, everyone being there for the same reason singing along.
You are a huge inspiration to so many people, who inspires you?
Jordan: People that take their vision or idea all the way to the end without any interruption, so not necessarily just people in the music industry. I’m inspired by people like Ricky Gervais, he took his idea of The Office and everything that came after that right through to the end; he doesn’t compromise. Björk and Eminem, they’re the same. People that have really strong goals and follow them, they’re who inspire me.
Do you have a motto that you try to live by everyday?
Jordan: I always say that life’s too short, and it’s a common one but people don’t actually believe it. I always think of Warwick Davis in ‘Life’s Too Short’, which is actually one of Ricky Gervais’, and I always picture his face whenever I’m angry or upset because life is actually too short! So stop worrying about whatever you’re worrying about and do what makes you happy!
We know that you are hugely in demand to perform at festivals around the world- where would be your dream booking?
Jordan: I’d be really keen to play somewhere super obscure like Japan. I also have a real affinity with Scandinavia, and there are a few countries in Scandinavia that I’ve never played that I’d like to play – Finland for example.
You have such amazing stage presence - can you tell us what audiences can expect from your live performances?
Jordan: I like to think that the energy is a big part of it. Even though I’m sat down playing piano I’m kicking and jumping around anyway like Jerry Lee Lewis! It’s wild and it doesn’t stop – there’s no breathing room!
My live performance is one big mash up. It’s a mash up of original stuff, which is wacky and emotive, medleys, and fusions of songs you wouldn’t expect. I stick together things, like Wyclef Jean and Johnny Cash, or some old school Busted and Celine Dion – just really odd obscure stuff but it really works! I love a good medley because I make them up as I go along, which is the most fun thing – I don’t tend to plan them beforehand.
Which songs get the best reaction from audiences?
Jordan: My original stuff! I have a song called ‘Corridors’, which is probably my best-known song, which I’ve been playing for a good five years. It’s got beatboxing and all sorts in it – that goes down really well. Then I’ve got another song called ‘Hang With The Happiness’, which is kind of a Trans anthem now, it has been re-appropriated. The lyrics that get people the most is this one line: ‘see all I really want to do is thank the fans, because everything’s been perfect since I came out trans, and even all the bully boys that take the piss, secretly want to bend me like an iPhone 6’ (laughs).
What is your favourite song to perform?
Jordan: I love to play Chili Peppers Californication, but with the lyrics to ‘The Devil Came Down to Georgia’ by The Charlie Daniels Band. Except I’ve changed it so that the devil wins in the end! I’m really proud of this song because it messes with people’s minds a little bit, they think they know the song and then they’re like ‘oh wow I didn’t realise the devil won in the end!’ I changed it because no one beats the devil when it comes to rock ‘n’ roll, which is another one of my mottos!
You are not only a fantastic performer, musician and vocalist, but you also present, MC and host events - can you tell us how you started this and what audiences can expect?
Jordan: It’s something that I’ve started doing more recently, but just from having been on The Voice I adored the to-camera stuff and I absolutely love improvising on the spot.
I’ve been trying to cultivate this female Russell Brand thing, for as long as I’ve been transitioning because subconsciously I’m a really big Russell Brand fan. So I’ve presented and appeared on things like chart topping podcasts, I’m really, really fortunate to have got onto these projects when I did.
I like to have a giggle. I don’t take anything too seriously. Nothing should be too formal that it makes you feel like you can’t enjoy it. People can expect me to be fun and a bit wacky (laughs).
On the more corporate side of things, the Essex Entertainment Awards is something that I’m very fortunate to have won the last 4 or 5 years, and now this year I’ll be presenting the entire thing! I’m also going to be a guest coach and judge on Factor EsseX - I’ll be doing the Paloma role!
You’re so dedicated to your work, but when you need a break what do you do to relax?
Jordan: I’m a 90s kid! I was super into Pokémon before Pokémon became Pokémon again. I’ve got the Ash Ketchum hat and the red suit – I wear it everywhere I go. I’m a Pokémon geek and that’s my one little vacation from work. I don’t take holidays, I don’t take breaks, and I like it that way so Pokémon is kind of my downtime.
I’m also super into science, love superhero movies and the works of Ricky Gervais in all its forms. Oh, I also absolutely adore Alan Partridge!
What is next for you?
Jordan: I’ve got 7 albums but they’re all independently released, so I’m hoping for my first proper general release debut single, meaning it’s available to physically buy rather then just as a digital download. So that’s exciting!
The UK tour, I’m currently on tour now – playing the main stage at every pride you can name, I’m super lucky – Brighton, Glasgow, Newcastle, Bolton, London, Cardiff… I’ve also got a full band tour coming up! There’s too much to list!
An incredibly talented singer, pianist and songwriter; captivatingly charismatic performer; inspirational LGBT and Trans ambassador and self-proclaimed Pokémon geek, Jordan Gray is a woman with raw talent and unrivalled determination. If you’d like to book Jordan Gray to perform at your event get in contact with her exclusive booking agent, Simon Knapp on 01626 572164.