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Gavin DeGraw

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Gavin DeGraw
Gavin DeGraw live in concert 2023
Background information
Birth nameGavin Shane DeGraw
Born (1977-02-04) February 4, 1977 (age 47)
South Fallsburg, New York, U.S.
  • Singer-songwriter
  • Vocals
  • piano
  • keyboards
  • guitar
Years active1998–present

Gavin Shane DeGraw (born February 4, 1977) is an American singer-songwriter. DeGraw rose to fame with his song "I Don't Want to Be" from his debut album Chariot (2003); the song became the main theme song for The WB/CW drama series One Tree Hill. Other notable singles from his debut album were the title track and "Follow Through".

His second album, Gavin DeGraw, was released in 2008 and included the top-20 single "In Love with a Girl". In 2009, DeGraw released his third album, Free. His fourth album, Sweeter (2011), spawned the hit single "Not Over You", along with "Soldier" and "Sweeter". In 2013, DeGraw released the album Make a Move, while in 2016 he released the album Something Worth Saving. In 2022, he released Face the River and a documentary on how he made the record and how he dealt with his parents' deaths.

DeGraw's duet with Colbie Caillat on "We Both Know" for the 2013 film Safe Haven received a Grammy Award nomination.

Early life[edit]

Family and education[edit]

Born February 4, 1977, DeGraw grew up in South Fallsburg, New York.[1][2] His mother, Lynne (née Krieger, 1951–2017), was a detox specialist nurse practitioner, and his father, John 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 was of Irish descent and his mother was of Russian Jewish ancestry.[5][6]

Musical approach[edit]

DeGraw began singing and playing piano at the age of eight. He has two older siblings: a sister, Neeka, and a brother, Joey (who is 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 as 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 his brother Joey and with local musician and vocalist Steven Levine, Bart and Hal Coopersmith. the band was named from his father's band when he was playing. The People's 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 career[edit]

After leaving Berklee and relocating to Manhattan in March 1998, DeGraw laid the groundwork for a musical career. Within a few months of his arrival, DeGraw made his way into the Sunday night Ron Grant and Friends open-mike night at Wilson's (the noted Upper West Side restaurant inside the Lucerne hotel). The night manager, Shar Thompson, introduced DeGraw to the club's owner, Debbie Wilson, the next day. Wilson signed on as his manager. DeGraw began developing a reputation in New York's music community.[7] DeGraw eventually signed a record deal with Clive Davis and his J Records imprint, the home of Santana as well as R&B singers Alicia Keys and Angie Stone.[9][better source needed]

In the spring of 2002, DeGraw began work on his debut album. "I wanted to create something that was timeless rather than fashionable", he explained. "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 live stage to 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][failed verification] The album, entitled Chariot, was recorded at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles and produced by Mark Endert.[1][better source needed]

DeGraw rose to fame in 2003[10] when "I Don't Want to Be" was chosen as the theme song for teen drama One Tree Hill.[11] Chariot was released on July 22, 2003 by J Records.[12] It sold over a million copies and earned platinum certification.[13] In addition to "I Don't Want to Be", the album featured the singles "Follow Through" and "Chariot";[14] each of the three singles was certified gold after selling more than a million copies.[13] "I Don't Want to Be" peaked at number 10 in the U.S. charts[15] and has been performed on American Idol[16] and Idol Sweden[17] by various contestants during different seasons. DeGraw went on to release an acoustic version of Chariot in 2004. Entitled Chariot Stripped, the album contained a cover version of Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come".[18]

DeGraw's 2006 single, "We Belong Together", was certified gold.[13]

DeGraw performing in 2005

DeGraw's second studio album, the self-titled Gavin DeGraw, was released on May 6, 2008.[12] Ahead of this, the single "In Love with a Girl" was released on February 12, 2008. The second U.S. single from the album, "Cheated On Me", was released in the U.S. on September 30, 2008.[citation needed] Gavin DeGraw debuted at No. 1 on the digital sales chart and ranked at No. 7 on Billboard's Top 200 album chart.[14][better source needed]

DeGraw's Live From Soho album, released on November 7, 2008, featured mostly tracks from Gavin DeGraw.[19]

On March 31, 2009, DeGraw's third studio album, Free, was released.[20] 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.[21] Free has been described as "recorded versions of his live favourites".[14]

DeGraw's fourth album, Sweeter, was released on September 20, 2011.[22] The album featured many tracks co-written with other artists. The album's first single, "Not Over You", was co-written and produced by Ryan Tedder and was said to have been inspired by Kyle Craig. "Not Over You" is his first song to reach the top spot on the Adult Pop Songs chart;[23] the single has been certified platinum.[13] 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.[14][better source needed] Sweeter is DeGraw's first album released under RCA Records; all three of his previous albums were released under J Records.[better source needed] 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.[24]

DeGraw sang "Baby It's Cold Outside" with Colbie Caillat on her 2012 Christmas in the Sand album. The pair also wrote the song "We Both Know" for the soundtrack of the 2013 film Safe Haven.[25][26] The duo received a Grammy Award nomination.[27]

On June 18, 2013, DeGraw released "Best I Ever Had", the first single from his fifth studio album.[28] The album, Make a Move, was released October 15, 2013.[29][better source needed] During that year, he supported Train across their series of US shows; The Script also appeared in several of those shows.[30]

DeGraw performing at the 2015 NHL Winter Classic

In 2014, DeGraw opened for Billy Joel. DeGraw then released his first greatest hits album Finest Hour: The Best of Gavin DeGraw on October 21, 2014.[31] The album includes the new songs "You Got Me" (featured in the film Dolphin Tale 2) and "Fire" (released on August 12, 2014).[32]

On September 9, 2016, DeGraw released his sixth studio album, Something Worth Saving.[33]

On May 20, 2022, DeGraw's released his seventh studio album Face the River, with the title track serving as the lead single; a tribute to his late parents.[34] August 27 is International Listen to Gavin DeGraw Day.[35]

Gavin DeGraw OKC concert August 23, 2023

DeGraw released his first Christmas EP, A Classic Christmas on October 13, 2023. It consists of six classic Christmas songs.[36]

In 2023, DeGraw signed with Sony Music Nashville. [37]

In 2023 and 2024 he embarked on another world tour in USA & in Europe.[38]

Other work[edit]

DeGraw performing at the Des Moines Arts Festival on June 27, 2009


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. His third appearance was in the season five finale, "What Comes After the Blues", where he was seen singing "I Don't Want to Be" with Jamie Scott (Jackson Brundage). DeGraw appeared on the show a final time during the series' last episode, in which he sang "Belief", "Soldier" and "I Don't Want to Be" at TRIC's 10th Anniversary party.[39][better source needed]


DeGraw was a contestant on season 14 of ABC's Dancing with the Stars, which premiered on 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.[40]

The National Underground[edit]

Gavin DeGraw Live on Fox & Friends July 7, 2023

DeGraw and his brother opened The National Underground in December 2007. The National Underground is a roots rock/Americana music bar located in Manhattan's Lower East Side.[41] The venue offers music, food, and drink.[42][43][44] "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.'"[45] Together the DeGraw brothers also own the restaurant/bar called the Nashville Underground in Nashville, TN, on Broadway and the steakhouse Open Range in Bozeman, Montana.

Personal life[edit]

Gavin DeGraw and his dog son Buddy 2023

On August 8, 2011, DeGraw was hospitalized after being assaulted by several people in Manhattan's East Village after leaving The National Underground.[46] Police reported that a group of men attacked DeGraw early Sunday morning at East 6th Street and First Avenue. He suffered a broken nose, a concussion, two black eyes, and lacerations to his face.[46][47] Only minutes after the attack, DeGraw was struck by a taxi at 19th Street and First Avenue. DeGraw was taken to Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital Center by ambulance,[48] and he had to cancel a scheduled August 9 performance at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs.[49] In January 2012, DeGraw reported that he had made a full recovery from his injuries.[50]

In September 2017, DeGraw's mother, Lynne DeGraw, died of pancreatic cancer.[51] On July 2, 2020, DeGraw's father, John Wayne DeGraw, died from brain cancer.[52]

Band members[edit]

Current members

  • Gavin DeGraw – lead vocals, piano, keyboards, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar (1997–present)
  • William Gramling - piano (2023-current)
  • Tyler Cain - guitar (2023-current)
  • Thomas Drayton - bass (2023-current)
  • Jon Epcar- drums (2023-current)

Former members


Studio albums[edit]

List of studio albums, with selected details, chart positions and certifications
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 72
Face the River
  • Released: May 20, 2022
  • Label: RCA


Title EP details Peak chart positions
iTunes: Live from Soho
  • Release date: 2008[63]
A Classic Christmas
  • Release date: October 13, 2023

Compilation albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]

  • Gavin Live (2001)


List of singles, with selected chart positions and certifications
Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
US Adult
US Pop
"I Don't Want to Be" 2004 10 9 1 19 21 6 30 27 Chariot
"Chariot" 2005 30 5 17 27 12 19
"Follow Through" [A] 22 33 68 56 12
"Just Friends" 2006
"Meaning" 2007
"In Love with a Girl" 2008 24 5 10 32 41 40 Gavin DeGraw
"She Holds a Key"
"Cheated on Me" 30
"I Have You to Thank" 2009
"Stay" Free
"Dancing Shoes"
"Not Over You" 2011 18 1 9 37 23 16 12 8 Sweeter
"Sweeter" 2012 [B] 18 76
"Soldier" 26 30 59
"Best I Ever Had" 2013 75 14 48 44 80 Make a Move
"Make a Move" 23
"You Got Me" 2014 Finest Hour: The Best of Gavin DeGraw
"Fire" 29 81
"She Sets the City on Fire" 2016 14 Something Worth Saving
"Making Love with the Radio On" 32


  • Gavin Degraw Live in Concert (2004)[74]
  • Chariot Stripped Tour (2005)[75]
  • Gavin Degraw in Concert (2008)
  • Where It Began Tour (2009)[76]
  • Sweeter Tour (2012)[77]
  • Make a Move Tour (2014)[78]
  • An Acoustic Evening with Gavin DeGraw (2017)[79]
  • Raw Tour (2017–18)[80]
Opening act

Awards and nominations[edit]

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
2009 BMI Pop Awards Award-Winning Song[101] "In Love with a Girl" Won
2011 BDSCertified Spin Awards 500,000 Spins "I Don't Want to Be" Won
2013 New Music Awards AC Male Artist of the Year[102] Himself Won
2014 Grammy Awards Best Song Written for Visual Media "We Both Know" Nominated

See also[edit]


  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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