Entertainment

Justin Gray Talks Working With Mariah Carey, Writing Track for ‘Oz’

Songwriter and producer Justin Gray has an impressive list of artists he’s worked with – among them John Legend, Joss Stone, Esthero, Jacksoul and Spice Girl Emma Bunton – but it’s his most recent project with Mariah Carey that really has him excited.

The Grammy-nominated Gray, born in Canada but currently based in Los Angeles, has been working in the industry for more than 12 years and has sold more than 25 million records worldwide.

However, when he and his writing team of Lindsey Ray and Simone Porter were asked to take a stab at creating a song for the film Oz the Great and Powerful, Gray says the first thing that came to mind was just how intimidating a task it would be.

Can you imagine that the last time the Wizard of Oz franchise had a theme song it was ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’. That’s not at all daunting!

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Songwriter Justin Gray

With some guidelines from Lee Mitchell, the film’s music supervisor, the team sat down to write a song that not only fit with the movie’s theme and atmosphere, but could stand on its own as a piece of music.

After it was pitched to the film’s director, Sam Raimi, Gray was shocked to get a call saying it had been chosen.

He says he knew an artist would be called in to work with them in refining it, and when word came in that artist would be Mariah Carey, he was astonished.

[Lee] Mitchell called and said okay, are you guys sitting down? It looks like Mariah Carey is going to come in on the song now, and we were in disbelief. For a songwriter, it’s like someone saying your lottery numbers just got called.

And what’s up next for Justin Gray?

Currently he’s in the studio with John Legend, and is set to begin projects with Nicki Minaj and Jennifer Hudson.

In addition, at the end of March he’ll help launch Songistry.com, an online tool that will help connect and empower songwriters to get their music out there with the touch of a button.

Oz the Great and Powerful, which hits theatres today, tells the story of a shady small-time circus magician who is hurled away from Kansas to the Land of Oz.

Among its stars are James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams.

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