Holly Brook Hafermann (born February 23, 1986), known professionally as Skylar Grey, is an American multi-instrumentalist and singer and songwriter. Grey was signed to Machine Shop Recordings under the name Holly Brook. She released her debut album, Like Blood Like Honey, as Holly Brook, in 2006. She co-wrote the three versions of "Love the Way You Lie" (for Eminem and Rihanna) with Alex da Kid, who signed her to his Wonderland Music label. She was featured as a guest vocalist on Fort Minor's "Where'd You Go" and "Be Somebody", Diddy-Dirty Money's "Coming Home", Dr. Dre's "I Need a Doctor", Lupe Fiasco's "Words I Never Said" and Kaskade's "Room for Happiness".
Life and career:
2001-2005: Early life and career beginnings:
Grey performed professionally as a child in a folk duo with her mother called Generations. Together, (with producer/engineer Randy Green) they independently produced three albums, Dream Maker, Lift Me, and Millennial Child/Waiting For You. Grey started her first band at the age of fifteen after 'sneaking' into bars, working with jazz musicians including Jeff Eckles, Tim Whalen and Leo Sidran in Madison, Wisconsin.
In 2003, Grey moved to Los Angeles and recorded a demo as Holly Brook, which would be her stage name for several years. This demo led to her being signed in the fall of 2004 by Linkin Park guitarist Brad Delson to the band's vanity label, Machine Shop Recordings at the age of 18.
2006-2010: Like Blood Like Honey and O'Dark:Thirty EP:
Her voice is featured on the Fort Minor songs "Where'd You Go" and "Be Somebody". Working with producer Jonathan Ingoldsby, Brook released her debut album, Like Blood Like Honey, on June 6, 2006. She landed opening spots for tours with Jamie Cullum, k.d. lang, Daniel Powter, Teddy Geiger and Duncan Sheik.
In 2010, Brook lent both her song "It's Raining Again" and her image to a promotional campaign for Ciao Water. Prior to this, she has appeared on albums by other artists, including Brie Larson's Finally Out of P.E. and Fort Minor's The Rising Tied. Brook has toured as part of Duncan Sheik's band, and appears heavily on his 2009 album Whisper House. At the beginning in 2010 she also performed in the theatrical version of "Whisper House," playing one of the two lead ghost vocalists along with David Poe. Also in 2010, she self-released the seven-song O'Dark:Thirty EP, produced by Duncan Sheik and Jon Ingoldsby. In 2009, Brook appeared as a backing vocalist on Eurovision contestant Yohanna's debut album, Butterflies and Elvis.
2010-present: Name change, new direction and Don't Look Down:
Brook later changed her name to Skylar Grey. She explained that "it 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."
She was still living in Oregon and had no recognition as Skylar Grey. Grey went to New York to meet her publisher, Jennifer Blakeman, who played Grey the song "Airplanes" by B.o.B and Hayley Williams and produced by Alex da Kid; Grey liked what she heard so Blakeman introduced her and Alex da Kid via e-mail. Alex da Kid sent Grey a few tracks he had been working on and the first song she wrote was "Love The Way You Lie".
Alex da Kid signed her to a production deal on his KIDinaKORNER imprint. She wrote the hook to all three versions of "Love the Way You Lie" by rapper Eminem and Rihanna as well as all of the lyrics and melody to versions II and III of the song. She can be heard performing the demo for all versions of the song. Grey earned a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year for her writing contributions to "Love the Way You Lie". She also co-wrote Diddy-Dirty Money's "Coming Home", along with "Castle Walls" by T.I. and Christina Aguilera. On March 10, 2011, Diddy-Dirty Money performed the single "Coming Home" with Grey and Dirty Money vocalists, Dawn Richard and Kalenna Harper, live on American Idol.
She is also a writer and featured guest on "I Need a Doctor". Grey is also featured on Lupe Fiasco's third studio album Lasers, on the second single, "Words I Never Said" and was also featured in the live performance of the song, with Lupe, on The Colbert Report on May 9, 2011. Grey made her live performance debut under her new alias during the 53rd Grammy Awards, performing "I Need a Doctor" alongside Eminem and Dr. Dre. She is currently working on her solo studio album Don't Look Down with Alex Da Kid. She has signed to Interscope Records through Da Kid's KIDinaKORNER, and her first promotional buzz single "Dance Without You" was released on June 6, 2011, with the official music video being released on July 5. The first official single "Invisible" was released to radio on June 16, but it was confirmed over twitter that the single would not appear on her upcoming album. On July 9, 2011, Grey performed live at the World Peace Event in Washington, DC, appearing along with the 14th Dalai Lama. On 6 August, she performed at the 20th 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. She performed alongside rapper Eli Porter on the September 20, 2011 episode of Tosh.0.
Grey also featured on Kaskade's 2011 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.
On April 1, 2012, Grey performed with Machine Gun Kelly on his song "Invincible" at WWE Wrestlemania XXVIII prior to John Cena making his entrance. 78,363 fans attended the event.
It was also reported that, along with appearing twice as a guest artist on Slaughterhouse's upcoming album Welcome to: Our House, Grey would also be contributing to The Band Perry's sophomore album, which is set to be released in April 2013 and "Building a Monster", a song from her upcoming CD was featured on the soundtrack to Tim Burton's Frankenweenie.
Grey features on two songs from Slaughterhouse's major label debut album Welcome to: Our House ("Our House," which also features Eminem, and "Rescue Me"), along with co-writing Zedd's 2012 single "Clarity" and Cee Lo Green's 2013 single "Only You". Grey released her first official single "C'mon Let Me Ride" which will appear on her album, featuring Eminem, both to radio and as a lyric video on November 27.
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 "Slowly Freaking Out" to the soundtrack album for the film The Host, based on the novel by Stephanie Meyer, and also contributed to will.i.am's solo album #willpower at the song "Love Bullets".
On April 7, 2013, for the second consecutive year Grey performed at WWE Wrestlemania, this time in front of 80,676 fans. She performed with Sean "Diddy" Combs on his song "Coming Home" which Grey had been featured on in the album version, performing the chorus. "Coming Home" was one of the official theme songs of Wrestlemania XXIX.
Grey has listed Garbage, Joni Mitchell, Radiohead, Marilyn Manson, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Sarah McLachlan and Death Cab for Cutie as her influences.