William “Will” Lee Gray, 33, departed this world Friday, July 26, 2013 at Banner Desert Hospital in Mesa, Ariz. of cancer.
He was a resident of Los Angeles, Calif. and a member of Pacific Crossroads Church.
Will was born June 29, 1980 in Yonkers, N.Y. to Barbara and Johnny Gray. The youngest of four siblings, he moved with his family from New York to Paris, Tenn. in 1989.
Multi-talented even as a child, he excelled in sports, academics and choir. He was a 1998 graduate of Henry County High School and attended Union University in Jackson, Tenn. on a full basketball scholarship, developing life-long friendships, including one with the girl who would one day become his wife.
In 2001, Will was awarded a residency at The Contemporary Music Center on Martha’s Vineyard, the nation’s only artist colony for musicians. A watershed experience, his time at the CMC shifted his musical focus, challenged his views of the world, and brought him more deep and lasting friendships. From there, he continued on as a member of the band he co-founded in college, the acoustic Hip-Hop trio, Scratch Track, touring nationwide for two years. He married his college sweetheart, Angie Ross Nov. 27, 2004 in Rockville, Ind.
In 2007, Gray released his debut solo record, Introducing Will Gray, to wide critical acclaim. Gray conceived and directed the award-winning documentary, Broke*, which was selected to premiere at the Nashville Film Festival and received the Special Jury Prize for Most Original Vision.
In 2011, he signed to a worldwide co-publishing agreement with Warner/Chappell Music. In 2012, he released an EP, The Renegade, with friend and bandmate, Reva Williams.
His original songs have been licensed repeatedly and recorded by CMA Entertainer of the Year, Blake Shelton, and Robert Randolph and the Family Band. He shared the stage over the years with many diverse acts. He was funny and hard-working, articulate and kind. Playing music with his friends, helping people whose art and life and music he believed in, trying to live a life informed by the gospel of Christ, producing work of his own to help people feel and think their way through difficult realities—these things typified Will and he loved doing them with his love and true partner, Angie.