You know her voice from hip-hop hits—now it’s time to get to know her 

Not many artists rack up four Grammy nominations before releasing a debut album, but Skylar Grey’s career has hardly followed a traditional path. After writing hits and singing hooks for acts like Eminem, Dr. Dre and Lupe Fiasco, Grey is preparing to release her own debut album, Invinsible. “Being a songwriter is a great life, but I can’t imagine ever leaving behind recording,” says Grey. “If I was just a songwriter I would lose my love for music very quickly, because it would suddenly feel like such a job.”

After some frustrating false starts, Grey’s solo career began to take shape when her publisher introduced her to London-based producer Alex “da Kid” Grant. “When I heard Alex da Kid’s tracks, I knew I had found my partner in crime,” says the Wisconsin native, 26. “My favorite thing about working with him is that he’s not afraid to tell me when he doesn’t like something. Not that he’s always right, but it always pushes me to do my best work. In the past, most people liked everything I did, which didn’t allow me to grow.”

Grey, Alex da Kid and Eminem penned the latter’s hit “Love the Way You Lie,” the best-selling single of 2010. Grey’s own recording of the song was released in January on the EP The Buried Sessions of Skylar Grey, along with her versions of Diddy-Dirty Money and Fiasco hits she co-wrote. “People were constantly asking me if I had full versions of these songs without the raps,” says Grey. “These three versions already existed, so I thought, ‘Why not record them?’ I didn’t want to make a big deal about it. I just put out the EP so fans could have access.”

The upcoming Invinsible embraces hip-hop beats, a more alternative pop sound and a fresh approach to the recording process. “In the past, I was a bit anti-new technology and recorded everything with real instruments on tape. I thought that making music with computers was cheating,” Grey says. “But I got over that once I started hearing people making some incredible music with computers.” Casual fans still know Grey’s songs better than they know her name, but she doesn’t regret her indirect introduction to pop radio. “I am very grateful for the success that writing for other people has brought me.” She says. “But being an artist is what I live for.”

–Amanda Farah

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