Breaking & Entering: A look at acts breaking at radio and retail and entering Billboard charts. This week: Gavin DeGraw.

Profiling acts breaking at radio and/or retail and entering Billboard's charts.

It's been a few years in the making, but listeners are beginning to catch on to the heart-breaking rasp of Gavin DeGraw. This week, the New York-based singer/songwriter reaches the pinnacle of Billboard's Mainstream Top 40 airplay chart.

"I Don't Want to Be," the second single from DeGraw's J Records debut, "Chariot," is the first No. 1 for the singer. Also the theme song to the WB network's "One Tree Hill," the song first charted in March of last year, where it entered the Adult Top 40 list, peaking at No. 9 five months later.

DeGraw, who soulfully tackles Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" during his live shows, achieves a mix of R&B and acoustic rock that at once makes listeners want to get up and move and sit quietly to take it all in.

The 26-year-old -– who also plays piano and guitar and wrote the lyrics for his 2003 debut -– was discovered among the Manhattan club elite by J Records A&R exec James Diener in 2002 and was signed to a multi-album deal with the label by that spring.

The label released "Follow Through" as the first single scoring DeGraw his first Billboard chart position in July 2003 at No. 40 on the Adult Top 40 tally. As the song climbed toward its eventual No. 27 peak, he moved from the Manhattan club scene to supporting Michelle Branch and Barenaked Ladies shows.

In July 2004, DeGraw released "Chariot Stripped," an acoustic live studio recording of his original album inspired by his time on the road. "I wanted to make a Neil Young meets Norah Jones '67-'68-style recording," he says of the album on his Web site.

The album was recorded during a midnight session at New York's Dumbo Studios and reveals his R&B roots with a bonus cover of the Sam Cooke classic, "Change is Gonna Come."

DeGraw, who recently appeared on NBC's "American Dreams," Showtime's "Dead Like Me" and the WB's "What I Like About You," kicked off the first leg of a 2005 headlining tour New Year's Eve at Chicago's with opener Michael Tolcher. Tolcher and Jem will support the tour through March, with dates at East Rutherford, N.J.'s Continental Airlines Arena and Binghampton, N.Y.'s Magic City Music Hall.

On Jan. 21, DeGraw will join Modest Mouse for a sold-out show at Nashville's Vanderbilt University, benefiting the Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.

Links:
Artist: www.gavindegraw.com
Label: www.jrecords.com

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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