R&B songstress Macy Gray is the epitome of unapologetic Black girl realness. For the past two decades, she has given us life with her signature raspy voice and textured tresses. She also gave girls and women everywhere license to be our true, authentic selves.
With 10 albums under her belt, she’s also proof that longevity comes not only with talent, but with loving and living your truth. And now she’s helping women make their own beauty statements with a new braid bar in California where you can get twisted, braided and loc’d up.
“It was kind of a no-brainer,” Macy said about the salon which grew out of a pop-up at AfroPunk in Brooklyn. “I was thinking to make it a festival thing, but then Charyn [my tour manager] said, ‘Why don’t we just open a full-on shop?’”
We caught up with Macy to find out more about her new venture—Macy Gray’s Braid Bar—and her love of kink and making the best music of her career.
Hype Hair: What inspired this braid bar?
Macy: I’ve been getting my hair braided my whole life, my kids get their hair braided. Everybody I know gets their hair braided. My friend owns a barbershop down the street, so we share the space. It’s one of those things that comes to you and you just say, “I’m going to do it.”
HH: It was such a big hit at AfroPunk.
Macy: It’s a direct representation and celebration of Black culture. I’m really proud to present and be a part of that. When your hair is braided, you make a statement. If it’s twisted or dreads, that says a lot about the person. Or if you see a White chick wearing braids, she’s on one.
HH: What about for you?
Macy: I used to hate getting my hair braided because it took so long. Now, I sit there and fall asleep. It’s like the best massage in the world!
HH: What has your hair journey been like?
Macy: I’ve always had a lot of hair—thick hair— so it was always drama for me. Either getting it braided and my hair braider had heavy hands or getting my hair combed out—that was painful. Or I’d go to the salon and she’d burn me with the ironing comb.
HH: Oh no! How did you get past that point to where you loved your hair and the process of getting it done!
Macy: I never loved that experience! I hated to get my hair done, that’s how I got to leave my hair alone. And then I got a perm and it all fell out— that’s how I got to be natural. I got tired of getting beat up with my hair.
HH: We always viewed you as having this magical connection with natural hair.
Macy: I love, love Black hair. I love kinky hair. I love that I have the texture of hair to show it off.
HH: But it hasn’t always been like that?
Macy: I didn’t always, of course. Every Black person goes through that—especially when you want to go swimming [laughs]. I’ve done everything. I’ve had a couple of weaves, I got my hair press and curled. Sometimes I do braid my hair down and throw on a wig.
Straight hair is a lot more manageable, but as far as beauty and being unique, there is nothing [more] powerful than Black hair. I feel so bad when people complain or are ashamed of it. I think you should wear your hair however you want. You can weave it out, wig it out, but I don’t think you should feel any kind of shame for having kinky, curly hair.
HH: Do you braid?
Macy: I can braid, for sure, but I’m not, like, going to sit there and braid your hair for six hours! I could give you the four braids going back, but that’s as good as it gets!