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Gavin Shane DeGraw (born February 4, 1977) is an American musician, singer, and songwriter. He rose to fame with the single "I Don't Want to Be" from his debut album Chariot which became the theme song for the television drama series One Tree Hill. Other singles from the album included notably "Chariot" and "Follow Through". His second self-titled album was released in 2008 and included the top-twenty single "In Love with a Girl". In 2009, DeGraw released his third album Free. His fourth album Sweeter (2011) spawned hit single "Not Over You", as well as "Soldier" and "Sweeter". In 2013, DeGraw released Make a Move, and Something Worth Saving followed in September 2016.

Gavin DeGraw
Gavin degraw june2009.jpg
DeGraw in 2009
Background information
Birth nameGavin Shane DeGraw
Born (1977-02-04) February 4, 1977 (age 42)
South Fallsburg, New York, U.S.
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • Vocals
  • piano
  • keyboards
  • guitar
Years active2002–present

DeGraw has sold more than a million records in the United States. His duet with Colbie Caillat on "We Both Know" for the film Safe Haven received a Grammy Award nomination.

Early life and schoolingEdit

DeGraw grew up in South Fallsburg, New York.[1][2] His mother, Lynne (née Krieger) (1951-2017), was a detox specialist, and his father, Wayne DeGraw, was a prison guard;[3] he referenced his father's and mother's respective occupations in the song "I Don't Want to Be".[4] His father is of Irish descent and his mother was of Russian Jewish ancestry.[5][6] DeGraw began singing and playing piano at the age of eight. He has two older siblings, a sister Neeka and a brother, Joey, also a musician. Growing up in a musical family, he was raised to regard music as part of the fabric of everyday life rather than a remote show-business ideal.[7]

As a teenager, DeGraw experienced a personal epiphany when he discovered Ray Charles and Sam Cooke, whose combination of personal charm and emotional commitment struck a chord in the budding musician.[7] DeGraw played in a local Catskills group called The People's Band with fellow local musicians: Steven Levine on vocals, as well as his brother, Joey. The band played many of the local hotels and clubs around the Monticello area. On his brother's advice, DeGraw began writing his own songs.[8] He attended Ithaca College on a music scholarship, but found himself spending more time in his dorm room writing songs than attending classes, and dropped out after one semester. DeGraw then moved to Boston, where he attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music for two semesters while singing in a rock band and playing solo gigs on the side.[7]

Music careerEdit

After leaving Berklee and relocating to Manhattan in March 1998, DeGraw almost immediately began making substantial career inroads, gradually and organically laying the groundwork for a musical career. "I kept having small successes," he recalls, "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, and made me feel like I was on the right track." Within a few months of his arrival, DeGraw made his way into the Ron Grant and Friends open-mic night at Wilson's, the noted Upper West Side restaurant inside the Lucerne hotel. After wowing the audience, the next day the night manager and talent coordinator Shar Thompson introduced DeGraw to the club's owner, Debbie Wilson. Wilson signed on as his manager and almost immediately, word of the talented newcomer began to spread through New York's music community, and the quality of his performances lived up to the buzz.[9] "When I first heard Gavin perform, I turned to Debbie (his manager) and said I need to sign this guy right now, says Randy Sabiston, Senior Director of A&R at Warner Chappell. "Gavin is a truly special songwriter and as a publisher, I didn't need to mull it over in my head; it was instant, a no brainer." Early on, DeGraw was offered a deal by a major label. Rather than succumb to the obvious temptation, he chose to decline the offer and continue his development as a songwriter and performer, while paying the rent by working as a waiter and newsstand clerk.[10] He eventually signed a record deal with Clive Davis and his J Records imprint (home of Santana as well as R&B singers Alicia Keys and Angie Stone).[11]

In the spring of 2002, following a sold-out showcase at New York's Joe's Pub, DeGraw began work on his debut album Chariot. The album's depth and focus attest to DeGraw's clear vision of his identity as an artist. "I wanted to create something that was timeless rather than fashionable," he explains. "I was concerned with developing a sound that wasn't disposable. I didn't want to have too much glitter on me." The adjustment from the immediacy of the live stage to the discipline of the recording studio was an educational process that gave DeGraw new insight into his work. "It made me think about making records differently," he says. "At first I felt out of my element because you have to learn the language and the science of making a record. It's a real process to get to the point where it doesn't sound like it's a process. We worked at making it breathe." [7]

DeGraw rose to fame in 2003, when "I Don't Want to Be" was chosen as the theme song for teen drama One Tree Hill. He released his debut album, Chariot, on July 22, 2003, under J Records.[12] Chariot was recorded at Los Angeles' music studios, Sunset Sound and produced by Mark Endert.[1] Chariot sold over a million copies and earned platinum certification. The album featured three of DeGraw's singles: "I Don't Want To Be", "Follow Through" and "Chariot".[13]

He went on to release an acoustic version of the album called Chariot Stripped in 2004. Chariot Stripped contains a cover version of Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come".[14] "I Don't Want to Be" has also been performed on American Idol[15] and Idol Sweden[16] by various contestants during different seasons.

DeGraw performing in 2005

DeGraw's second album, the self-titled Gavin DeGraw was released on May 6, 2008.[12] Ahead of this, its single "In Love with a Girl" was released on February 12, 2008. The second U.S. single "Cheated On Me" was released in the US on September 30, 2008. This was followed by the Live From Soho album, released on November 7, 2008, featuring mostly tracks from Gavin DeGraw.[17] Gavin DeGraw debuted at No. 1 on the digital sales chart and ranked at No. 7 on Billboard's Top 200 album chart.[13]

DeGraw's third album, Free, was released March 31, 2009.[18] DeGraw made Free in less than two weeks at the Brooklyn studio of his producer, Camus Celli. DeGraw included some songs on the album that he wrote very early in his career and that have evolved over time, songs such as "Dancing Shoes" and "Glass".[1] The debut single from the album, "Stay", was released on March 11, 2009.[19] Free has been described as "recorded versions of his live favourites".[13]

DeGraw's fourth album, Sweeter, was set to release on August 9, 2011, but was pushed back to September 20, 2011.[20] The album features many tracks co-written with other artists. The first single "Not Over You" was released on iTunes in June.[21] The track was co-written and produced by Ryan Tedder and was said to be inspired by Kyle Craig. "Not Over You" is his first song to reach the top spot on the Adult Pop Songs.[22] Sweeter contains collaborations from producers including Butch Walker, Eric Rosse, and Ron Aniello; alongside another co-written title track, "Sweeter" with Andrew Frampton. The album was recorded in many locations including Blackbird Studios in Nashville, Walker's Space in Venice and the Henson Recording Studios.[13] Sweeter is DeGraw's first album released under RCA Records, all three of his previous albums were released under J Records. DeGraw went on to release an acoustic album based mostly on songs from Sweeter. The iTunes Session album features seven tracks and a 30-minute interview.[23]

DeGraw sang "Baby It's Cold Outside" with Colbie Caillat on her Christmas in the Sand album. The pair also wrote the song "We Both Know" for the soundtrack of the 2013 film Safe Haven.[24][25]

On June 18, 2013, DeGraw released the first single from his fifth studio album, "Best I Ever Had".[26] Degraw's fifth, and most recent studio album, Make a Move, was released October 15, 2013.[27] During that year, he supported Train across their series of US shows; The Script also appeared in several of those shows.[28]

DeGraw performing at the 2015 NHL Winter Classic

DeGraw released his first greatest hits album Finest Hour: The Best of Gavin DeGraw on October 21, 2014.[29] The album includes the new songs "You Got Me" (featured in the film Dolphin Tale 2) and "Fire" (released on August 12, 2014).[30] On September 9, 2016 DeGraw is set to release his sixth studio album, Something Worth Saving. It was preceded by the release of the singles "She Sets the City on Fire" on July 15, 2016, and "Making Love with the Radio On" on August 12, 2016.[31]

Other workEdit

DeGraw has released several music videos as well, including "I Don't Want to Be", "Follow Through" and "Chariot". The latter was directed by Zach Braff, who also directed music videos for Joshua Radin. "More Than Anyone" was selected by fans of One Tree Hill through a Cingular Wireless contest as the first wedding dance song for Nathan & Haley in the 3rd-season finale "The Show Must Go On."[32]

At the Des Moines Arts Festival on June 27, 2009

He and his brother opened The National Underground in December 2007, a New York City music venue that is a roots rock Americana music bar located in Manhattan's Lower East Side, at 159 East Houston Street between Allen Street and Eldridge Street.[33] The venue offers music, food, and drink.[34][35][36] The idea for the venue came about because the brothers wanted a place where they could hang out on a regular basis, and where other musicians could come in and listen and learn.[37] "We were picky about the quality of musicians that played there", DeGraw says. "We wanted a place where the players were so good, other musicians were like, 'Wow! I really respect what they're doing.'"[38]

DeGraw was a contestant on season 14 of ABC's Dancing with the Stars which premiered on Monday March 19, 2012. DeGraw and his partner Karina Smirnoff were eliminated from the competition during week 5, following a Dance Duel with castmate Jaleel White and his partner Kym Johnson.[39] They landed in 9th place.

Acting creditsEdit

DeGraw appeared in an on-screen role in four One Tree Hill episodes. His first appearance was in 2004, during ("You Gotta Go There to Come Back"); he was seen singing "I Don't Want to Be" at Karen's Cafe. His second appearance was in season 2 where he sang, "Chariot" in episode 17 and his third was in the season 5 finale, ("What Comes After the Blues") where he was seen singing "I Don't Want to Be" with Jamie Scott (Jackson Brundage), and then performed one last time during the series' final episode, in which he sang "Belief", "Soldier" and "I Don't Want to Be" at TRIC's 10th Anniversary party.[40]

Personal lifeEdit

On August 8, 2011, DeGraw was hospitalized after being assaulted by several people in Manhattan's East Village after leaving The National Underground.[41] Police reported that a group of men attacked DeGraw early Sunday morning at East 6th Street and First Avenue.[42] He suffered a broken nose, a concussion, two black eyes and lacerations to his face.[41][43] Only minutes after the attack, DeGraw was struck by a taxi at 19th Street and First Avenue.[42] DeGraw was taken to Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital Center by ambulance,[44] and he had to cancel a scheduled August 9 performance at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs.[45] In January 2012, DeGraw reported that he had made a full recovery from his injuries.[46]

In September 2017, DeGraw's mother, Lynne DeGraw, died of pancreatic cancer.[47]

Band membersEdit

Current members
  • Gavin DeGraw – lead vocals, piano, keyboards, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar (2003–present)
  • Billy Norris – lead guitar, backing vocals, musical director (2009–present)
  • James Cruz – bass guitar (summer 2012–present; previously as well)
  • David Maemone – keyboards (spring 2014–present)
  • Mike Baker – drums, percussion, backing vocals (summer 2014–present)
Former members


Studio albumsEdit

Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
  • Released: July 22, 2003
  • Label: J
56 74 1 23 43 6 2 21 48
Gavin DeGraw
  • Released: May 6, 2008
  • Label: J
7 21 3 36 44 8 35 13 23
  • Released: March 31, 2009
  • Label: J
19 29 76 96
  • Released: September 20, 2011
  • Label: RCA
8 65 41 6 6 25 29 19
Make a Move
  • Released: October 15, 2013
  • Label: RCA
13 19 21 18 39 55
Something Worth Saving
  • Released: September 9, 2016
  • Label: RCA
35 100 51 52


Title Album details Peak chart positions[59]
iTunes: Live from Soho
  • Release date: 2008

Compilation albumsEdit

Other albumsEdit

  • 2001: Gavin Live


Year Title Chart positions[48][52] Certifications
(sales thresholds)
US US Adult US Pop AUS
2004 "I Don't Want to Be" 10 9 1 19 25 21 6 30 15 27
2005 "Chariot" 30 5 17 27 12 19
"Follow Through" [A] 22 33 56 12
2006 "Just Friends" 26
2007 "Meaning"
2008 "In Love with a Girl" 24 5 10 32 40 Gavin DeGraw
"She Holds a Key" 29
"Cheated on Me" 30
2009 "I Have You to Thank"
"Stay" Free
"Dancing Shoes"
2011 "Not Over You" 18 1 9 37 23 16 12 8
2012 "Sweeter" [B] 18 76
"Soldier" 26 30 59
2013 "Best I Ever Had" 75 14 48 44 80[64]
Make a Move
"Make a Move" 23
2014 "You Got Me"
Finest Hour: The Best of Gavin DeGraw
"Fire" 29 26
2016 "She Sets the City on Fire" 14
Something Worth Saving
"Making Love with the Radio On" 32


  • Gavin Degraw Live in Concert (2004)[65]
  • Chariot Stripped Tour (2005)[66]
  • Gavin Degraw in Concert (2008)
  • Where It Began Tour (2009)[67]
  • Sweeter Tour (2012)[68]
  • Make a Move Tour (2014)[69]
  • An Acoustic Evening with Gavin DeGraw (2017)[70]
  • Raw Tour (2017-18)[71]
Opening act

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
2004 College Music Awards Best Male Rock Artist Himself Nominated
Mikie Awards Male Artist of the Year Nominated
Song of the Year "I Don't Want To Be" Nominated
2005 Billboard Music Award Top Soundtrack Single of the Year Nominated
Radio Music Award Song of the Year/Mainstream Top 40 Radio Nominated
Teen Choice Award Choice Music: Rock Track Nominated
Groovevolt Music and Fashion Awards Best Song Performance - Male Nominated
Best Album - Male Chariot (Stripped) Nominated
World Music Awards World's Best Selling Pop/Rock Artist Himself Nominated
2006 BMI Pop Awards Award-Winning Song "Chariot" Won
"I Don't Want to Be" Won
BDSCertified Spin Awards 400,000 Spins Won
Danish Music Awards Best International Album Chariot Nominated
Groovevolt Music and Fashion Awards Best Pop Song Performance - Male "Follow Through" Nominated
2011 BDSCertified Spin Awards 500,000 Spins "I Don't Want to Be" Won
2013 New Music Awards AC Male Artist of the Year[92] Himself Won
2014 Grammy Awards Best Song Written for Visual Media "We Both Know" Nominated

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Follow Through" did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100 but did peak at number 11 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart, which is an extension of the Hot 100.
  2. ^ "Sweeter" did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100 but did peak at number 16 on Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart, which is an extension of the Hot 100.


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External linksEdit