NBC’s “Today” show purportedly blocked a member of Macy Gray’s band from wearing a “Free Brittney Griner” T-shirt during a live performance this week to protest the WNBA star’s incarceration in Russia, according to the singer.

Gray’s keyboardist, Billy Wes, was spotted wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan ahead of the group’s performance on Thursday’s edition of Today. However, the message was nowhere to be found once Gray’s act got underway – with Wes later confirming that he was told not to display it.

“They made me turn it inside out. They said I couldn’t wear it, so I had to turn it outside out. But y’all know what time it is: free Brittney,” Wes told TMZ.

Gray later personally addressed the situation in her own interview with TMZ, saying the apparent drama over the “Free Brittney Griner” T-shirt “really bummed me out.”

“We wanted to wear them on the show and they said no, because I guess something happened,” Gray said.

Macy Gray
Macy Gray performed on the Today show on Thursday.
Nathan Congleton/NBC via Getty I

“I don’t think it’s too political. It’s a human being that’s in a really horrible situation and there’s people that have power to do something about it. That’s what they should do,” she added.

Today representatives did not immediately return a request for comment.

Griner, 31, was initially detained by Russian authorities in February after police said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her possession. Her arrest occurred just days before the Kremlin launched its brutal invasion of Ukraine.

Macy Gray
Macy Gray said her band planned to wear the shirts during their Today show performance.
Nathan Congleton/NBC via Getty I

She pleaded guilty to drug possession charges this week and faces up to 10 years in a Russian prison. The White House said President Biden called Griner’s wife, Cherelle, to assure her he was doing everything he can to secure her release.

Gray’s appearance on the Today show included a sit-down interview in which she addressed the backlash she faced regarding remarks she made to Piers Morgan about transgender people. Gray said “just because you go change your parts doesn’t make you a woman.”

Brittney Griner
Brittney Griner has been in Russian custody since February.
AFP via Getty Images

Gray told Today that the incident was a “huge learning experience.”

“I think it takes a lot of courage to be yourself, to go out in the world and be honest about who you are. And so I think anyone who is in the LGBT community is a hero and sets an example for all of us,” Gray said. “I said some things that didn’t go over well, but my intention was never to hurt anybody. I feel bad that I did hurt some people.”


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Tyler Cowan