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Published: Friday, 4/8/2005

Small successes lead to Platinum

Gavin DeGraw Gavin DeGraw
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What maniac would choose this career? asks Gavin DeGraw. We all listen to the radio. Success doesn t really have to do with anything musical.

That s the general rule, but there are exceptions, as DeGraw s recent string of accomplishments can testify.

The singer-songwriter with a heartfelt, soul-pop sound has been selling out most shows on his current tour, including a concert Wednesday night at Club Bijou.

His major-label debut disc, Chariot, recently earned Platinum Record status for sales of more than a million copies, and unlike many discs that reach that mark through record-company hype, his followed a slow but steady climb, taking 18 months to reach the million-sales mark.

DeGraw s first hit song, I Don t Wanna Be, was featured as the theme for the WB Network show One Tree Hill, and actor-director Zach Braff, star and writer of the movie Garden State, directed DeGraw s next video for the song Chariot.

DeGraw, 28, grew up in the Catskills town of South Fallsburg, N.Y., and studied music at Ithica College and Berklee College of Music before deciding to drop out of school. Playing piano and keyboards, he moved to New York City in 1998 to begin working toward a solo career.

I kept having small successes, he recalled. Just things like applause from small audiences, or people saying they d heard about me. Those tiny bits of recognition were fuel for me to continue.

While playing at New York clubs by night, he worked as a bellhop, bartender, and dog walker during the day. Your first thought isn t, I have to go get a gig. It is, I have to get rent money, DeGraw said.

After performing at an open-mic night at Wilson s, club owner Debbie Wilson signed on the next day as his manager.

He turned down an offer from a major label, believing that he could do better. It was a five-year wait, but DeGraw ended up signing with Clive Davis J Records, the label home of Alicia Keyes, Luther Vandross, Rod Stewart, and Toledoan Shawn Kane.

Last year, DeGraw reissued Chariot as a two-disc set with the second CD featuring a live-in-the-studio, acoustic version of the same tunes. I wanted to strip down the existing album, he said. I wanted to make a Neil Young meets Norah Jones 1967/68 style recording. It will give people another perspective of what I am about musically.

Gavin DeGraw will be in concert at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Club Bijou, 209 North Superior St. The concert is sold out.



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