Singer, songwriter and serial reality show contestant Scotty Granger looks forward to the day when he's known more for his talent than being the "black, gay" one.
"Black men already have a stigma of hardness or coming from the ghetto, it's a label that I have put on me. You're black and gay. Yes, I am but I'm also Scotty," he said. "I want people to say, 'That guy is talented no matter what he is.' I want my music to transcend my sexuality and race."
With his competitive nature, musical gifts and relentless drive to succeed, Granger is well on his way to making that happen. As the creative director for "American Idol" sweetheart Jordin Sparks, he's spent a good portion of the past four years performing with her all over the world.
He caught the performing bug at an early age, showcasing his singing talent in his third grade talent show. At 12, he made his television debut at Harlem's Apollo Theater where he was named one of the nation's most talented kids. Since then, he's been hooked with appearances on ABC's "The One: Making A Music Star," ABC's "Wipeout," "Family Feud" and most recently on Bravo's "Platinum Hit."
With a touch of jazz from his native New Orleans, a splash of gospel from his mega-star great aunt Mahalia Jackson, a dash of R & B and hint of Pantera for flavor, Granger describes his sound as distinctly "Scotty" and prides himself on defying stereotypes, musically and otherwise.
My music "is a good reflection of what I'm going through at the time. I use a lot of different genres to represent my journey and what I've going through in my life," Granger said. Currently, he's collaborating with producers who work with Justin Bieber, Jay Z, Sparks and a litany of talented people on his third album, "A Singwriter's Right (A Heart's Story)," due in March 2012.
Growing up in the shadow of his older brother, NBA All-Star Danny Granger, the younger, more artistic Granger put a lot of pressure on himself to succeed.
"I feel like I stand in his shadow a little bit, but it makes my fire and drive even more," he said.
He credits his strong, religious family for his success. "I love life. I have goals. I was raised by strong people who molded me into a go-getter," Granger said. "If I'm not good at something, I'm going to learn and try and work until I'm among the best. I know life is short, so I'm going to go for it. Go hard or go home."
Growing up, Granger felt different from the other kids. He came out to himself around 13, but kept it a secret from his extremely religious family before being spectacularly outed on the first episode of "The Jay Leno Show" by his then-boyfriend, James Childers.
In yet another reality show twist, when Granger came out to perform his song "Beautiful You" in the "Platinum Hit" finale, his heart stopped: His dad was sitting with his new boyfriend, Benny.
"I didn't know it was going to happen. The show arranged it," he said. "I thought, 'Oh my god, my dad is sitting next to my boyfriend!' I never thought that would happen."
A hardworking mechanic who grew his small shop into a successful chain, Danny Granger, Sr., has always been his most ardent supporter, though he struggled initially with Granger's homosexuality, he's continued to love and support his son.
"It's been amazing to see a 50-year-old man evolve," Granger said. For the rest of his religious clan, it's a different story. "Even thought they still talk to me, it's completely changed my relationship with them."
Family aside, being gay in the spotlight brings a unique set of challenges, but Granger takes it with his usual aplomb. "I think everybody deals with it in their own way. We still have a lot of work to do to change the stereotypes about gay men," he said. "Adam Lambert is what he is and does what he wants. I think everyone who is out there being themselves and out is doing a great job to show people the full spectrum of homosexuality."
Currently, Granger is under contract with Sony as a songwriter. He's working on Jordin Sparks' new album, a single with Leona Lewis and a few tracks with the legendary DJ Tiesto.
Granger, who won "Wipeout" in 2009, returns to the show in February 2012. When he's not composing, touring or dodging giant foam obstacles, Granger is roaming the Los Angeles hills with his dog, Orion, or painting in his favorite medium, watercolor.
Learn more about Scotty Granger at ScottyGMuse.com