Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.

"I view myself as 'everyman.' I just happen to write songs," 26-year-old Gavin DeGraw says.

But any artist handpicked to be the latest protégé of RCA Music Group chairman Clive Davis is hardly ordinary.

The New York-based singer/songwriter, who signed a multi-album deal with Davis' J Records in spring 2002, was discovered by J VP of A&R/marketing James Diener while playing at Wilson's, a club on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

Not long after, a showcase was set up for Davis at label headquarters. The head man's verdict? "We must do this."

Davis punctuated his confidence in DeGraw by introducing him at his annual pre-Grammy Awards party in New York -- an entree to the music biz that most artists would kill for.

Fan and media interest have been burgeoning since, with coverage in The New York Times, Esquire and Interview and such TV outlets as CNN, VH1, "Access Hollywood" and "Extra."

DeGraw's first album, "Chariot," was released July 22. Recorded at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles and produced by Mark Endert (Fiona Apple, Tonic), the set offers a potent blend of soul-tinged balladry and slightly rockier fare, underlaid with an acute pop sensibility. The first single is the album's hooky opening track "Follow Through."

Four songs from "Chariot" were streamed at gavinsounds.com before the album's release, while the full album was also posted for streaming at DeGraw's official Web site, gavindegraw.com. The site also offers live footage of DeGraw performing three songs.

"One of the reasons I signed with this company is because in my first meeting with Clive [Davis], he said, 'I don't want to change you,'" Degraw says. "That's the most appealing thing to any artist. And they've given me a lot of room. I'm just happy here. It's amazing. I'm really impressed."

And what is DeGraw's career aim?

"I just want to get my parents out of the jobs they're working right now," he says. "That's kind of my big goal. They've made huge sacrifices for me."





Excerpted from the Aug. 9, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com Premium Services section.

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