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William “Will” Lee Gray, 33, departed this world Friday, July 26, 2013, at Banner Desert Hospital in Mesa, AZ, of cancer. He was a resident of Los Angeles, CA, and a member of Pacific Crossroads Church.
Will was born June 29, 1980, in Yonkers, NY, to Barbara and Johnny Gray. The youngest of four siblings, he moved with his family from New York to Paris, TN, in 1989. Multi-talented even as a child, he excelled in sports, academics and choir. He graduated Henry County High School in 1998 and attended Union University in Jackson, TN, on a full basketball scholarship, developing lifelong friendships, including one with the girl who would one day become his wife.
In 2001, Will was awarded a residency at The Contemporary Music Center on Martha’s Vineyard, the nation’s only artist colony for musicians. A watershed experience, his time at the CMC shifted his musical focus, challenged his views of the world, and brought him more deep and lasting friendships. From there, he continued on as a member of the band he co-founded in college, the acoustic Hip-Hop trio, Scratch Track, touring nationwide for two years. He married his college sweetheart, Angie Ross, on November 27, 2004, in Rockville, IN. In 2007, Gray released his debut solo record, Introducing Will Gray, to wide critical acclaim. He conceived and directed the award-winning documentary, Broke*, which was selected to premiere at the Nashville Film Festival and received the Special Jury Prize for Most Original Vision.
In 2011, he signed to a worldwide co-publishing agreement with Warner/Chappell Music. In 2012, he released an EP, The Renegade, with friend and bandmate, Reva Williams. His original songs have been licensed repeatedly and recorded by CMA Entertainer of the Year, Blake Shelton, and Robert Randolph and the Family Band. He shared the stage over the years with many diverse acts. He was funny and hard-working, articulate and kind. Playing music with his friends, helping people whose art and life and music he believed in, trying to live a life informed by the gospel of Christ, producing work of his own to help people feel and think their way through difficult realities—these things typified Will and he loved doing them with his love and true partner, Angie.
He is survived by his beloved wife, Angie; his parents, Johnny and Barbara Gray of Paris, TN; siblings, Joelle Storr of Florida, Jonathan Gray of Florida and Michael Gray of Paris, TN; his Uncle Samual and Aunt Gail of Paris, TN; his nephew, Mekhi; his niece Monique; other nieces and nephews; parents-in-law, Bill and Dianna Ross of Rockville, IN; his sister-in-law, Kelli Ross of Arlington, VA; his brother-in-law, John Ross of Portland, OR; his grandmother-in-law, Rachel Ross of Greensburg, IN; and many, many friends.
A memorial service will be held at Fellowship Bible Church located at 1210 Franklin Road, Brentwood, TN, on Friday, August 2, at 2 p.m. A private service for family will be held Sunday in Azalia, IN. A service will also be held Saturday, August 10, at 2 p.m. at Hollywood Presbyterian Church in Hollywood, CA. There will be a service in Paris, TN, at a later date. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Hathaway-Myers Chapel where online condolences may be expressed to the family at www.hathaway-myers.com.
In lieu of flowers, Angie has requested that donations be made to a foundation she is setting up to support independent artists. Both she and Will knew intimately the daily struggle of being an independent maker of things, whether paying rent or buying a new microphone. So, to honor Will’s memory and his and Angie’s unceasing commitment to good work—even when the only resources they had to work with were the people who loved them—send checks to the foundation made payable to Mindfree Entertainment at 10153 Riverside Drive, #519, Toluca Lake, CA 91602. Include “foundation” on the memo line. You can also give at http://GoTeamGray.com/gifts. When you press the Donate button, simply leave a note indicating what the funds are for.
Continued donations to Will and Angie to cover outstanding medical bills, funeral costs, and cost-of-living can be made through the #GoTeamGray Gift page (http://goteamgray.com/gifts/).