Tamyra Gray is an American actress and singer best known for her rise to fame as one of the finalists on the first season of the reality television competition American Idol, in 2002.
She has since expanded into acting, most notably with a recurring role on the third season of the drama Boston Public in early 2003.
Gray began singing at an early age. She competed in several pageants and was named Miss Atlanta in 1998. Gray attended Georgia State University, majoring in business law and entertainment management.
Prior to American Idol, she worked a variety of jobs including day care worker, party motivator, telemarketer, waitress, and running her own cleaning service.
She also filmed Coca-Cola commercials and worked with artists like her friend Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes and rapper DMX with hopes of finding an opening into the entertainment industry.
That opening came in 2002 when Gray became one of the ten finalists on the first season of American Idol, eventually finishing fourth. Her performance of the Burt Bacharach classic "A House is Not a Home" was described by Judge Simon Cowell as "one of the best performances on television" that he had ever seen.
After American Idol's debut season, Gray continued to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. She landed the recurring role of Aisha Clemens on Boston Public, appearing in seven episodes in 2003, during which she also showcased her singing abilities, most famously, covering Luther Vandross' "Dance With My Father" and Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You".
She has had guest roles on episodes of Half & Half, Las Vegas, Tru Calling, What I Like About You and All Of Us. With other American Idol alumni, she appeared on The Tyra Banks Show in 2006.
Gray performed a duet with American Idol season one winner Kelly Clarkson on Clarkson's debut release "Thankful." The song, entitled "You Thought Wrong," was co-written by Gray but never released as a single.
Gray was also featured on two tracks on the American Idol Christmas CD - a solo version of "Silent Night" and a duet version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" with Ruben Studdard.
he also appeared on the Idol Christmas Special on Fox with Clarkson, Studdard, and other finalists from the first two Idol seasons.
During the third season of American Idol, she returned to the show on several occasions to sing "Raindrops Will Fall" and "Star", songs she co-wrote for her debut album, and to sing the National Anthem to open the final results show of the season.
Gray also co-wrote the American Idol season three single "I Believe", which was performed by Idol finalists Fantasia Barrino and Diana DeGarmo. Barrino released "I Believe" as her American Idol single, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart.
After being dropped by J Records in 2003, Gray's first solo album, The Dreamer, which Gray wrote herself, was eventually released on May 25, 2004 by newly formed independent record label 19 Records, a division of Simon Fuller's 19 Management.
The album sold 39,000 during its first week in release, and has sold 122,000 to date.
The H. Hector and J. Vasquez mixes of Tamyra's lead single, "Raindrops Will Fall," peaked at #5 on Billboard's Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart; another set of remixes of the same song also hit #9 on that chart.
Gray later parted ways with 19 Entertainment and 19 Records, and joined Braudé Management with hopes of getting a deal with a major label.
In November 2004, Gray was cast for a limited engagement of 12 weeks in the role of Priya in Broadway's struggling Bombay Dreams. Due to continued poor grosses, the show closed early on January 1, 2005.
In October 2005, Gray made her big screen supporting role debut in the independent film The Gospel, which debuted at No. 5 at the box office, and also had strong DVD sales when it was released to stores on January 3, 2006.
Gray has one song, "Now Behold The Lamb", featured on the movie's soundtrack, which climbed to No. 1 on Billboard's Soundtrack Chart.
Also in 2005, Gray appeared in a short film for H&M's new line of denim jeans, and performed the Dreamgirls show stopper "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going". Tamyra was featured in print advertisements for the H&M denim and her version of the song played in H&M stores.
Gray, listed fourth in writing credits, contributed to 2 songs ("If You Were Mine" and "The Lover In Me") and sung back-up on ("If You Were Mine") on the CD from Jessica Simpson, A Public Affair, which was released August 29, 2006. The CD debuted on Billboard's 200 Chart at #5.
Gray appeared as Danielle in the hit WB comedy, What I Like About You. She sang the song, "Proud Mary."
Gray married Color Me Badd singer Sam Watters (whom she worked with on The Dreamer) on September 2, 2006, in Capri, Italy. About 45 guests were in attendance, including her then manager, Lisa Braude.
Gray's photographer sold the wedding photos to American press, and the low-key relationship soon became public after People Magazine broke the word.
In late-2006, Gray announced on her fansite www.tamyra.org that she had left Braudé Management, and said she would look for a new management and label after finishing up material for her second album.
She joined the cast of RENT as Mimi Marquez on May 29, 2007 and is played the role until November 25, 2007.