Holly Brook Hafermann (born February 23, 1986), known professionally as Skylar Grey, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer and model from Mazomanie, Wisconsin. In 2004, at the age of 17, Grey signed a publishing deal with Universal Music Publishing Group and a recording contract with Machine Shop Recordings under the name Holly Brook. In 2006, she released her debut studio album Like Blood Like Honey, under the aforementioned labels.
Grey performing in 2016
|Birth name||Holly Brook Hafermann|
|Also known as||Holly Brook|
|Born||February 23, 1986|
Mazomanie, Wisconsin, U.S.
In 2010, Grey co-wrote Eminem and Rihanna's hit single "Love the Way You Lie", alongside Eminem and British record producer Alex da Kid, who subsequently signed Grey to his Interscope Records label imprint, Kidinakorner. Grey's second album, Don't Look Down, was released in July 2013. The album reached the top 10 in the US and produced four singles. Grey's third studio release, Natural Causes, was issued in September 2016. Grey has also provided guest vocals on several singles, including Apathy (rapper)'s Victim, No Sad Tomorrow, Fort Minor's "Where'd You Go", Diddy's "Coming Home", Dr. Dre's "I Need a Doctor", Nicki Minaj's "Bed of Lies" and Macklemore's "Glorious".
Life and careerEdit
1994–2004: Early life and GenerationsEdit
2005–10: Like Blood Like HoneyEdit
Grey co-wrote "Done With Like" and "She Said", alongside Jon Ingoldsby and American actress Brie Larson, for Larson's first and only album, Finally Out of P.E. (2005). In 2005, Grey was featured on American hip hop group Fort Minor's songs, "Where'd You Go" and "Be Somebody". "Where'd You Go" was released as a single on April 14, 2006, with an accompanying music video following soon after. The song gained commercial success and ended up becoming a top four hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and also became certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). After working with music producer Jonathan Ingoldsby, Grey released her debut album, titled Like Blood Like Honey, on June 6, 2006, under Warner Bros. Records. The album peaked at number 35 on Billboard's Heatseekers Albums chart. During this time, Grey had landed opening spots for concert tours with Jamie Cullum, k.d. lang, Daniel Powter, Teddy Geiger and Duncan Sheik.
Through her connections from Machine Shop Records, Grey became closely affiliated with Linkin Park affiliates Styles of Beyond and Apathy. She was even featured on two tracks titled "Victim" and "No Sad Tomorrow", from Apathy's second studio album, Wanna Snuggle? (2009). Grey toured as part of Duncan Sheik's band and contributed substantially to his 2009 album, Whisper House. In 2009, Grey appeared as a backing vocalist on Eurovision contestant Yohanna's debut album, Butterflies and Elvis. In August 2009, still under the name Holly Brook, she lent both her song "It's Raining Again" and her image to a promotional campaign for Ciao Water. In early 2010, she performed in the theatrical version of "Whisper House," playing one of the two lead ghost vocalists, along with David Poe. On June 10, 2010, she self-released the seven-song extended play (EP), O’Dark:Thirty. Production of the EP was handled by Duncan Sheik and Jon Ingoldsby.
2010–11: "Love The Way You Lie" and name changeEdit
Brook later changed her stage name to Skylar Grey. She was still living in Oregon and had no recognition as Skylar Grey. Grey went to New York to meet her publisher Jennifer Blakeman, to seek help presenting her work. Blakeman had suggested that she work with English musician and record producer Alex da Kid. Grey contacted Alex da Kid via e-mail. Alex da Kid sent Grey a few tracks that he had been working on. The first song Grey wrote was "Love the Way You Lie". Musician and producer Christian James Hand, who also directed the video for Grey's "Haunted", claims that he had a relationship with Grey and that she "wrote a song called 'Love the Way You Lie' which is about me and what a terrible human being I am." The song was given to American rapper Eminem and Barbadian singer Rihanna. Their version became a worldwide hit, reaching number one on 26 charts and being nominated for four Grammy Awards. Grey earned a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year, for her writing contributions to "Love the Way You Lie". Grey wrote the hook to all three versions of "Love the Way You Lie" by Eminem and Rihanna, and even recorded a solo version that was later featured on her fourth EP, The Buried Sessions of Skylar Grey (2012).
Alex da Kid went on to sign Skylar Grey to a production deal on his KIDinaKORNER record label imprint. In 2010, Grey also co-wrote and was featured on Diddy – Dirty Money's single "Coming Home", which gained massive commercial success. Also in 2010, Grey co-wrote "Castle Walls" by American rapper T.I. and American pop singer Christina Aguilera. On February 1, 2011, American rapper and renowned hip hop producer Dr. Dre released a song titled "I Need a Doctor", featuring Grey and Eminem. "I Need a Doctor" managed to peak at number four on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and was certified double platinum by the RIAA.
Skylar Grey made her national television debut under her new alias during the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards, where she performed "I Need a Doctor", alongside Eminem and Dr. Dre. During this time, Grey announced she began working on her album then-titled Invinsible. In March 2011, it was revealed Grey signed to Interscope Records, through Alex da Kid's KIDinaKORNER and announced she would be releasing a single in the spring. On March 10, 2011, Diddy – Dirty Money performed "Coming Home", alongside Grey, live on American Idol. Later in 2011, Grey was featured on a song titled "Words I Never Said", the second single from Lupe Fiasco's Lasers (2011). Grey and Lupe Fiasco performed the song on The Colbert Report, on May 9, 2011.
Grey released her debut single, "Dance Without You", on June 6, 2011. The song later received a music video, which was released on July 5. "Dance Without You" was featured in the 2012 film Step Up Revolution. Grey's second single and formerly her second album's title-track, "Invisible", was released to radio on June 16. On July 9, 2011, Grey performed live at the World Peace Event in Washington, DC, appearing alongside the 14th Dalai Lama.
On August 6, 2011, she performed at the 20th annual Lollapalooza festival, as both a solo artist and with Eminem, during the song "I Need a Doctor". The next day, while passing by the area where YouTube sensation Karmin was recording their cover of "I Need A Doctor," Grey joined the duo for an impromptu performance. Grey also performed alongside aspiring rapper Eli Porter, on the September 20, 2011 episode of Tosh.0. In October 2011, Grey was featured on American DJ and music producer Kaskade's seventh album Fire & Ice, writing and singing on two versions of the song "Room for Happiness", which became the album's third single and earned her another Grammy nomination.
2012–14: Don't Look Down and collaborationsEdit
On April 1, 2012, Grey appeared alongside American rapper Machine Gun Kelly, for a performance of his single "Invincible", at WWE's Wrestlemania XXVIII event, prior to John Cena making his entrance. In August 2012, appeared twice as a guest vocalist on American hip hop supergroup Slaughterhouse's second album, Welcome to: Our House (2012). In September 2012, Grey's song "Building a Monster", was featured on the soundtrack to Tim Burton's Frankenweenie.
In 2012, Grey co-wrote Russian-German electronic dance musician Zedd's 2012 single "Clarity" featuring Foxes, which won the Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording in 2014. On October 31, 2012, Grey announced Eminem would executive produce her new album and revealed she had changed the title from Invinsible to Don't Look Down. On December 11, 2012, Grey released her album's lead single "C'mon Let Me Ride", which was produced by Alex da Kid and features Eminem, via digital distribution. The single was later serviced to radio on January 15, 2013.
In February 2013, American recording artist CeeLo Green released a single titled "Only You", which he co-wrote alongside Grey. On March 8, 2013, Grey performed a six-song set for "Guitar Center Sessions" on DirecTV. The episode also included an interview with Grey by the host of the program, Nic Harcourt. Grey also contributed an exclusive song, titled "Slowly Freaking Out", to the soundtrack album for the film 2013 film The Host, based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer, In April 2013, Grey contributed to will.i.am's fourth solo album #willpower, on the song "Love Bullets".
On April 7, 2013, for the second consecutive year, Grey appeared at WWE's Wrestlemania event, this time in front of 80,676 fans, where she performed "Coming Home", with Sean "Diddy" Combs. "Coming Home" was one of the official theme songs of Wrestlemania XXIX. On April 16, 2013, Grey released Don't Look Down's second single, titled "Final Warning", via digital distribution. On June 4, 2014, Grey released "Wear Me Out", the album's third single. Grey's second album, Don't Look Down, was released July 5, 2013. In its first week of release the album debuted at number eight on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 24,000 copies in the United States.
In September 2013, Grey released a music video for her cover version of Daft Punk's hit single "Get Lucky". In October 2013, Grey appeared on the track "The Last Day" on Moby's eleventh album Innocents On October 17, 2013, Grey previewed a new cover of Robert Palmer's "Addicted to Love" in a trailer for the 2014 remake of Endless Love. In November 2013, she appeared on Eminem's eighth studio album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2, on a track titled "Asshole".
On January 20, 2014, Grey released a song titled "Shot Me Down", with David Guetta, a cover of Cher's "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)". The song was successful charting in the top ten in several countries. In March 2014, a new collaboration with American recording artist Kid Cudi, titled "Hero", was recorded for the Need for Speed film and released on the film's official soundtrack. In August 2014, Grey appeared on American rapper T.I.'s song "New National Anthem", from his ninth album, Paperwork. In November 2014, Grey featured on Shady XV, a compilation album performed by various artists of Shady Records, on "Twisted" alongside Eminem and Yelawolf. In 2014, Grey teamed up with American rapper Nicki Minaj to co-write the song "Bed of Lies", from Minaj's third album, The Pinkprint. Grey sang on the recording and performed it alongside Minaj at the 2014 MTV Europe Music Awards and the December 6, 2014 episode of Saturday Night Live.
2015–17: Natural Causes and soundtracksEdit
Grey confirmed on her official Instagram account that her third studio album would be released in 2015. In February 2015, Grey released a song from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack called "I Know You." The song was acclaimed by music critics and also reached the top spot on iTunes of numerous countries. Also in February, Grey confirmed she has a song on the Furious 7 soundtrack, called "I Will Return." In March 2015, she released her version of "Addicted to Love" on iTunes, and also re-released the song "Words," which was deleted from the iTunes Store in 2013. On March 29, 2015, Grey appeared at her third WrestleMania event, performing a medley of "Rise" and "Money and the Power" at the thirty-first annual event, alongside Travis Barker and Kid Ink.
On May 18, 2015, house producer deadmau5 released a short demo on SoundCloud in collaboration with Kaskade, featuring vocals by Grey, titled "Beneath with Me". On October 6, 2016, a music video for the song was released.
On September 23, 2016, Grey released her third studio album, Natural Causes, to mostly positive reviews and moderate commercial success. Prior to that, on September 25, 2015, Grey released a collaboration with indie rock artists X Ambassadors on September 25, 2015. The song was announced as the first single from the album, but was later omitted. On April 1, 2016, Grey released "Moving Mountains" as the lead single off the album. On May 17, it was revealed Grey would be on the Suicide Squad soundtrack, with a new solo song titled "Wreak Havoc" and a songwriting credit for "Gangsta" by American singer Kehlani. On August 15, Grey revealed the artwork and track-listing for the album and announced the release date. It was later announced that Grey would be embarking on a 12-city tour to promote the album entitled The Natural Causes Tour. In the fall of 2016, Grey went on her Natural Causes Tour with morgxn. On September 2, 2016, Grey released the third single from Natural Causes, titled "Come Up For Air", which was produced by Eminem, with a music video coinciding with its release. On September 16, Grey released the fourth single titled "Lemonade", followed by a music video release for the song on October 31. On September 22, Grey streamed "Kill For You", one of the songs from the album that features Eminem, on Rolling Stone. The song peaked at number 68 on the Canadian Hot 100.
On March 17, 2017, Kehlani and G-Eazy released a new single off The Fate of the Furious: The Album soundtrack called "Good Life", co-written by Grey. On March 31, 2017, American rock band Papa Roach released their song, "Periscope" from their ninth album Crooked Teeth which features guest vocals by Grey. She also appeared in the music video for the song. Grey was also featured on American rapper Macklemore's single "Glorious", released on June 25, 2017. The platinum selling single topped the charts in numerous countries. On November 10, 2017, Grey's frequent collaborator Eminem released "Walk on Water", featuring American singer Beyoncé, the lead single from his ninth album Revival. Grey co-wrote the song alongside Eminem and Beyoncé; Grey also co-produced the music with Rick Rubin. On November 12, 2017, Grey performed the song live alongside Eminem at the MTV Europe Music Awards at Wembley Arena, London and on November 18, 2017, on Saturday Night Live. Eminem's full Revival album was released on December 15, 2017 revealing that along with "Walk On Water" Grey had co-written "Like Home" featuring Alicia Keys, "Need Me" featuring Pink, and "Tragic Endings" featuring Grey herself. Also released on December 15 was G-Eazy's The Beautiful & Damned album on which Grey co-wrote "Pick Me Up" featuring Anna of the North.
2018–present: Angels with TattoosEdit
On January 25, 2018, Grey released a cover of Ben E. King's "Stand by Me". On January 26, 2018 Budweiser released their 2018 Super Bowl LII commercial which featured the song and as of February 2018 has over 19 million views. It was also revealed that the song was recorded specifically for the commercial and that a portion of the proceeds from the song was going to the American Red Cross to benefit those affected by natural disasters. A music video also created with Budweiser and directed by Daniel Carberry was released on February 2, 2018.
In an interview with Uproxx published on January 26, 2018, Grey revealed that she is currently working on her third Skylar Grey album and is planning on including her own version of "Walk on Water", which was previously recorded by Eminem and Beyoncé, on the album.
Grey co-wrote and performed the song "Everything I Need", the original single for James Wan's Aquaman.
In 2019, Grey will release her fourth studio album Angel with Tattoos. It will include the track "Shame on You".
Musical style and influencesEdit
Grey has listed Bon Iver, Shirley Manson of Garbage, Joni Mitchell, Radiohead, Marilyn Manson, Bob Dylan, Fiona Apple, Neil Young, Sarah McLachlan, Eminem, Death Cab for Cutie and Alana Davis as her influences.
Grey explained that she thought her stage name "represents the unknowns in life. People seem to be afraid of the unknowns, but I’m the complete opposite. I dive into the unknown because I feel like that’s where all your possibilities come from." She explained to Beatweek that she chose "grey" with an e rather than an a because "I like to do things the original way" and because "it’s more masculine. I'm not a very feminine person."
|2014||Lennon or McCartney||Herself|
|2011||American Idol||Herself||Performer with Diddy – Dirty Money|
|Tosh.0||Herself||Episode "Eli Porter"|
|2013–17||Saturday Night Live||Herself||Season 39, Episode 5 and Season 43, Episode 6 (Performer) with Eminem|
Season 40, Episode 8 (Performer) with Nicki Minaj
|2016||The Late Late Show with James Corden||Herself||Original air date March 10, 2016 (Performer) "Real World" with band.|
|2017||Fox's New Year's Eve||Herself||Original air date December 31, 2017 (Performer) with Macklemore, "Glorious" on piano.|
|2018||The Today Show||Herself||Original air date February 2, 2018 (Performer), "Stand By Me" with band.|
|2018||The Daily Show with Trevor Noah||Herself||Original air date August 1, 2018 (Performer) Medley of songs including "Love the Way You Lie", "Coming Home", "Clarity" and "Glorious".|
|2013||The Grizzly Diaries||Herself||1 episode|
- The Natural Causes Tour
Awards and nominationsEdit
|2006||Ringtone of the Year||"Where'd You Go" (with Fort Minor)||Won|
Variety's Breakthrough of the Year AwardsEdit
|2014||'Music Up Next' Breakthrough Award||Skylar Grey||Won|
|2011||100.000.000 Views||"Coming Home" (with Diddy-Dirty Money)||Won|
|"I Need a Doctor" (with Eminem & Dr. Dre)||Won|
|2014 ||World's Best Entertainer of the Year||Herself||Nominated|
|World's Best Female Artist||Nominated|
|World's Best Album||"Don't Look Down"||Nominated|
|World's Best Song||"Shot Me Down" (with David Guetta)||Nominated|
|World's Best Video||Nominated|
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