Gavin DeGraw

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About Gavin DeGraw

Gavin DeGraw isn’t the kind of singer/songwriter reliant on acoustic guitars and hushed ballads. Rather than look to ’70s pioneers like James Taylor and Paul Simon for inspiration, he embraces the passion of soul and gospel music. A teenage discovery of Ray Charles and Sam Cooke changed everything for DeGraw, who was born in 1977 in a village in upstate New York. He attended Ithaca College and later Boston’s Berklee College of Music, yet the troubadour devoted his time to crafting his unique approach outside of the classroom, in clubs and coffeehouses, composing while holed up in the dorms. The hard work paid off when “I Don’t Want to Be,” from his 2003 debut, Chariot, was tapped as the theme song for the television series One Tree Hill. Cracking the Top 10, the urban soul-rocker set DeGraw apart from his counterparts out west, such as Jack Johnson, who tended to evoke images of laidback sunsets on the beach. Subsequent hits found DeGraw increasingly adept at navigating stylistic turns while remaining connected to his strengths. If the singles “Not Over You” (co-written with Ryan Tedder) and “Best I Ever Had” found him riding the kind of pounding backbeat heard on early Mumford & Sons singles, “She Sets the City On Fire” (which anchors the 2016 full-length Something Worth Saving) boldly pushed him into modern R&B terrain. Even when DeGraw touched down in Nashville—where he lives and owns a nightclub—he didn’t abandon what made his songs and voice special; he merely augmented them. This shines through on “Chapters,” a 2018 country hit recorded with longtime friend Brett Young that proves that DeGraw’s love of soul music can feel at home in any setting.

South Fallsburg, NY, United States
February 4, 1977

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