Marcus “FLAME” Gray, 37, is the Gospel Rapper who just won in court against pop icon Katy Perry.
It was unanimously decided by a nine-member federal jury this week, that Katy Perry will be held accountable for copying FLAME’s 2009 song “Joyful Noise” to make her 2013 hit “Dark Horse.”
The jury will soon decide how much Perry owes FLAME for the copyright infringement.
Perry’s attorneys argued that the co-author and producer of the song had never heard “Joyful Noise” until the lawsuit arose.
FLAME’s attorney’s counterargument was that his Grammy-nominated song has millions of plays and it cannot be proven that Perry’s team has never heard the track.
“They’re trying to shove Mr. Gray into some gospel music alleyway that no one ever visits,” said attorney Michael A. Kahn during his closing argument.
Perry’s team maintains that Gray and his attorneys are, “trying to own basic building blocks of music, the alphabet of music that should be available to everyone.”
Here’s what you need to know about Marcus “FLAME” Gray.
1. FLAME Grew up With a Drug-Addicted Father And a Mother Battling Schizophrenia
Since the start of his career in 2004, FLAME has released nine albums: Flame, Rewind, Our World: Fallen, Our World: Redeemed, Captured, The 6th, Royal Flush, Forward, and God Knows. He talks about his childhood on the first three.
“Every moment was intense. I was, say five–six years old. Even simple things like walking to school you were afraid,” FLAME said in an interview with CBN.
For most of FLAME’s childhood, his father was gone for days at a time due to drug addiction and his mother would forget who he was because of her diagnosis of schizophrenia.
FLAME credit’s his grandmother for being his saving grace. She was a christian woman who reminded him he was loved and purposed for a better life. She passed away when FLAME was 16-years-old.
“I felt like I lost a part of my own soul, a part of my being had been cut off. Because she was my everything. I just remember trying to be strong, but not having the ability to. My natural bent was to check out and to retreat, you know, stay in the clubs, do whatever would distract me, block me, numb me from reality,” he said.
2. FLAME Married The Girl Who First Invited Him to Church
After the passing of his grandmother, FLAME’s high school girlfriend, Crystal Singh, invited him to church where he received the gospel.
Shortly before that moment, FLAME was in a bad car accident. “Those two events back to back are what the Lord used to draw me in. I was invited to church, heard the gospel, broke down crying like a baby, and came running to Jesus. He’s been keeping me ever since,” he said in an interview with The Gospel Coalition.
FLAME and Crystal stayed together. They married in 2008. FLAME never travels without his wife. In fact, it’s written in his booking contracts. “No FLAME if you don’t bring Mrs. FLAME!”
3. FLAME Has a Masters Degree in Biblical Counseling And is Boisterous on Cultural And Social Issues
FLAME finished his masters degree in biblical counseling from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky last year. He was asked in an interview, why he felt it necessary to earn his masters in this particular field.
“It is my conviction that when artists hold the mic and seek to communicate God’s heart through music, they must be students of the Word aiming to share God’s Word as accurately and practically as they can,” FLAME said, quoting James 3:1 which reads, “not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”
Along with his achievement came a slew of new questions concerning cultural and social issues.
In his interview with The Gospel Coalition, FLAME was asked about his song, “Desires in Conflict” and what his views are on homosexuality.
“I’ve never struggled with that particular sin,” said FLAME, “but I’ve always grown up around people who struggle with that particular sin, and I just developed a heart for that community because I had friends and associates that really struggled with that, and I felt like, ‘Man, I want to speak their heart. I want to communicate accurately what they may experience internally.’ But I didn’t just want to do that; I wanted to show compassion but also bring a biblical worldview to that issue in the hope that even people who may listen to FLAME who are in that lifestyle, struggling with that lifestyle, or not struggling with it, that they’d be confronted with a compassionate take on it that I thought was consistent with how Christ may deal with it.”
Watch “Desires in Conflict” here.
“This is a fallen world. There’s racism here, there’s corruption here, there’s hatred here on both sides,” he told Billy Graham news. “Unless God works in us, there’s always going to be chaos. So I’m just trying to use the arts to bring to bear God’s truths.”
When rapper Kendrick Lamar released the song “YAH,” referring to himself as a Black Hewbrew Israelite, FLAME released a song called “Absolute Truth” that pushed back against the movement, which claims to be the “legitimate chosen people of God and, among some radical proponents, promotes racism,” Religion Dispatches reported.
4. FLAME Started His Own Record Label in 2010
“I’m excited about [Clear Sight Music] because the heart-beat of it is holistic,” FLAME said. “We want to see people converted, we want to see people discipled, we want to see people enjoying good art, and then we want to see people join the local church.”
FLAME’s label is unique in that it serves as a ministry alongside the music. There is currently one other artist signed to Clear Sight Music: Mike Real.
“I think about expanding. There are maybe three record labels like-minded, but their rosters are full. They’re doing great work, but the doors are pretty much closed,” said FLAME. “So in my mind, Clear Sight is coming along side these [labels] and we’re expanding. We’re furthering the Kingdom at Clear Sight by starting a new entity through which we can sign new artists and perpetuate the Gospel to a new set of people.”
5. FLAME Raps About The “Perils And Deceptions of People Within The Music Industry” on His Latest Album: God Knows
The ultimate goal of FLAME’s most recent album, God Knows, released on March 2, 2018, is this: “to find comfort in God’s eyes and presence being on us through the highs and the lows. That overwhelming sense of comfort that we draw from knowing that God is invested in our lives.”
At his core, FLAME is a writer. Before ever recording, he wrote raps as devotionals. All eight of his previous projects shared the same vibe in production, but for his ninth, FLAME was after something different.
Before FLAME settled on his track list, he had recorded and deleted eight songs. “I wanted to take a different approach, so part of the process was taking the time to think about, ‘what’s a fresh angle on familiar things and what’s a new way to artistically express myself in some new ways?’”
At the 2009 Grammy Awards, FLAME met Spec, a producer whose tracks he’d come to love after being shown by a mutual friend. FLAME asked Spec to produce his latest album. “Our styles really coincide. The way he hears music and thinks about creativity, it lends itself to my style,” said FLAME.
FLAME’s favorite track on the album is “Swimming With Sharks,” where he warns aspiring artists about the politics within the music industry, specifically the Christian music industry. Following the lead of his wife, FLAME shot the video in actual shark infested waters.