ABOUT LYDIA GRAY
Lydia Gray sings American and Brazilian Jazz standards with skillful refinement and a warmth which reveals a glimpse of her distinguished entertainment lineage. Born in New York City to 50s singer, Betty Johnson (early Tonight Show fame), Ms. Gray graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BA from the Meadows School of the Arts professional training program. She is also the granddaughter of the founders of the celebrated Johnson Family Singers of Charlotte, NC – as well as sister to the well known Spanish big band singer, Elisabeth Gray.
Ms. Gray made her Professional Solo debut in NYC at Danny's Skylight Room in June 1995. As a result of this show, Ms. Gray was nominated for a 1996 MAC Award for Female New York Debut. She went on to delight audiences at the famous Algonquin's Oak Room and the Cafe Pierre in New York, as well as many other venues throughout the United States and the Caribbean.
Ms. Gray now joins guitarist Ed Eastridge in a style that gracefully blends a modern sound into classic popular standards. She currently lives in New Hampshire with her family and performs throughout New England with Mr. Eastridge. Ms. Gray has also performed with the new world Jazz/Brazilian pop band "Tambor" which debuted at the Vermont Jazz Festival in 2004.
FAMILY MUSICAL HISTORY
JOHNSON FAMILY SINGERS
Ms. Lydia Gray Is a descendent of the renowned American performers The Johnson Family Singers of Charlotte, NC – popular in the 1940s. The Johnson Family Singers recorded 52 songs for Columbia Records and a similar number of songs on the RCA-Victor label. Ms. Gray’s mother, Betty Johnson, sang with The Johnson Family Singers on early radio broadcasts from 1938 to 1951. By 1948, she had her own 15-minute radio program.
Betty Johnson was signed by Columbia Records and made some recordings before being signed by Bell Records in 1954. In the same year she signed with Csida-Grean, a management company that produced many of her subsequent recordings. In 1955, she signed with RCA Victor, which sent her to Chicago, Illinois.
In Chicago, Ms. Johnson worked on the syndicated television series, Eddy Arnold Time, backed by a group who had worked with her family on the Grand Ole Opry, The Jordanaires. That group later became well known as a backing group for Elvis Presley. While in Chicago, she also did some work on Don McNeill's Breakfast Club beginning in 1955, which led to a contract with a small record company, Bally Records. After one not-so-notable recording for Bally, she clicked with her biggest hit, "I Dreamed", in 1956. She continued to appear on The Breakfast Club until 1957.
Ms. Johnson then was hired by Jack Paar for his television show, Tonight. This led to a record contract with Atlantic Records in 1957, for which she had her next big hit, "Little Blue Man". Johnson continued on Tonight until 1962 when Paar was replaced by Johnny Carson, while also making appearances on a number of other television shows.
In 1964 she married Arthur Gray, an investment banker in New York City. She had two daughters, Elisabeth (born 1966) and Lydia (born 1968). From then until 1993 she mostly stayed out of show business, going to college – attending some classes at Dartmouth College beginning in 1977, but ultimately getting her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of New Hampshire in 1981.
In 1984 and 1985 Johnson appeared as Essie Miller in the Goodspeed Opera Houses revival of TAKE ME ALONG! In 1993, she returned to show business, appearing at the Algonquin Hotel in New York and subsequently starting her own record label, Bliss Tavern Music, for which she continues to make recordings. Her recent projects include Four Shades of Gray; a collaboration with her daughters Lydia Gray, Elisabeth Gray and granddaughter Betty Gray and the restoration and remastering from LP's of The Take Five Sessions Betty recorded in NYC with the Lou Garisto Quartet on the late 1950's through early 1960's. Ms. Johnson’s entire digital music catalog, including Four Shades of Gray, is available as download or disc on CD Baby, iTunes and Amazon.