Jonny Gray

  • Austin
Grant Season: 
  • 2014
Jonny Gray


I was born in the desert town of El Paso, Texas and lived there until I joined the Air Force shortly after 9/11. Music has always been a part of my life and I received my first guitar when I was 10. My uncle formed a band with my cousins and brother and I learned to entertain at a young age. My musical influence was 50’s and 60’s rock n roll, from Elvis to the Beatles and then later on the 1970s singer songwriter music my mother used to listen to. However, it was really the time I served in my first tour in the Middle East where I began writing songs based on the experiences surrounding me during my time in the sandbox.

Upon my return stateside, I went to a bar with one of my sergeants who offered to pay for my drinks if I would get on stage at an open mic and play a Dave Matthew’s song. The club manager heard me perform and offered me a gig the next Friday night and it was there that I realized I could play music for a living. On my second tour of the Middle East, I saved all my paychecks to buy a PA system and a professional guitar and upon completion of military service I emerged into the San Antonio music scene.I spent those early years learning to work a crowd, playing sing-along songs to energize the room, while always mixing in something I had been writing myself to encourage my own creativity. As any bar musician can attest, it is a seamless end of long gigs, for little cash and sometimes you wonder if anyone actually heard me over their drunken chatter. My uncle helped me record a five-song EP called “Sail it Away” and I sold them at all my shows. I made a good name for myself and had steady work for years and even won some awards, but wanted something more and decided to move to Austin. I didn’t know anyone, but within a week I had arranged enough gigs to pay rent and played my first show on Sixth Street at the Blind Pig. Within two years, I was a working musician with steady gigs and on January 26, 2012 Austin’s mayor honored me with my own Jonny Gray Day.

Fall 2012 I received a call from NBC’s the Voice who requested a private audition. Although I was skeptical about doing a reality television show, I phoned my mother whose pointed question of “what do I have to lose” prompted me to accept their invitation. Months of call backs resulted in my Blind Audition for Season Five. The opportunity to perform in front of some of the biggest artists and entertainers was life-changing! The Killer’s “All these Things I’ve done” was a tune I’d been performing for years and inspired Adam Levine and CeeLo Green to turn their chairs and I was propelled into the limelight. While I was deployed, his first record “Songs About Jane” came out and those lyrics took my mind off of what was going on around me. I thought I would choose Team Adam, however CeeLo’s insights regarding the quality of my voice and artistic influences he recognized made me choose him. Although I did not select the musical performances nor able to choose the songs, I advanced all the way to the Top Twelve, which meant performing live on television. The ride was amazing and the morning after my elimination from the show, I was flown to New York to interview on the Today Show and driven in a limousine to sign the famous MTV news wall. It was a time I’ll always remember and be proud of.

I came back to Austin and wanted to begin writing the album I have always wanted to make. I’ve written many new songs and have a clear direction as to the sound I’m looking for. I successfully funded a Kickstarter for the album and am in the process of recording it. During South by Southwest I was nominated for nine Austin Music Awards winning three: Folk Band of the Year, Song of the Year and Male Vocalist of the year. I am very proud that my 1st EP allowed me to be honored at this event that I greatly respect. I spent the Summer playing a series of tours for the Hard Rock Hotels in the Mexican Riviera and toured the country. I am home now and anxious to get into the recording studio.