Meet Gary King
... a long time friend of the Grey family. As a matter of fact, even beyond that, one of Jerome Grey's very first vocal students from Samoa. Cool, right!?
Now based in Philadelphia, Gary is a singer-songwriter & producer that has gone on to have a very impressive music career of his own. When we hear Gary sing and play the piano, we think of the sultry, tender voice of Maxwell.
His music has appeared regularly in film & tv and he's notably worked as a session vocalist & and member of the renowned Andrae Crouch gospel choir. He also appeared as part of the choir on "We Are Golden," a single off of Universal Music artist Mika's 2nd studio album, and one of his most memorable appearances include being a part of the choir at Michael Jackson's funeral ceremonies in 2009.
Gary has released two albums independently. He's opened for Stevie Wonder and other major-label artists over the years, and his music has also appeared on MTV and other major cable networks.
But at the heart of it all, Gary is a simple boy from Sāmoa who was born in Fagatogo and has a deep, deep love of Sāmoa, just like Jerome.
Taking it back to the past!
In a recent email exchange with Gary, we asked him to share any thoughts he had about the We Are Sāmoa Gala and what it meant to him, to be a part of this special evening and paying tribute to his mentor.
... and he offered us this thoughtful note:
"I was probably about 7 years old when my mom came in and told me, 'You're gonna take voice lessons with Jerome Grey to learn how to sing.' So, like all good Samoan kids, I said, "okay," even though in my heart of hearts, I was shy and didn't want to. Mom drove me to an office building in the village of Faga'alu later that week, and that's where my love affair with the art of singing, in many respects, began. Or at least with the art of "studying the craft of singing." Mr. Jerome (as I referred to him then as a child) asked me to sing something. I shyly sang something, what, I cannot remember. He could tell I was nervous.
He did what all good teachers do: He worked slowly and methodically to coax me out of my shell. He sang a melody—row-row-row-your-boat, something or other—to get me going, anything.
Asked me if I knew the Rainbow Connection by Kermit the Frog. I didn't! He asked me to copy him as he sang some simple melodies to get me started. I did.
Then, he said something fundamental to all singing technique:
"Gary, open your mouth more and let the air out. I know it feels funny, but you have to use your lips to
shape the sound and let the air out. Don't block the air by singing with your lips too closed.
Open them, really wide. It will feel funny at first, but you'll get used to it. Trust me."
I'm paraphrasing of course.
But years later when I was studying voice formally at Berklee College of Music, one of the first things my voice teacher said to me was...
"Open more, don't block the air, let it out, it will feel funny, but you'll get used to it."
I remember being in the room with my Berklee teacher as she said those words and immediately thought of Mr. Jerome saying the exact same thing to my 7-year old self.
I smiled and thought about the humble Samoan musical legend that years before had given me the same basic information on singing technique for which I was now taking out student loans and working a part-time job—in order to pay tuition!"
Gary! We love you brother, and we thank you for bringing your special touches to the We Are Sāmoa Gala and personalizing it in a way that only you can.
To join Gary King and many other amazing artists at the We Are Sāmoa Gala on Saturday, March 26th, simply click here.