Gavin DeGraw Cites Work with Diane Warren, Billy Joel Among Career Highlights

Gavin DeGraw Cites Work with Diane Warren, Billy Joel Among Career Highlights

On Tuesday, Aug. 5, at 5:45 p.m. PT/8:45 p.m. ET, Yahoo Live will livestream Gavin DeGraw’s concert from the Red Hat Amphitheater in Raleigh, NC. Tune in HERE to watch!

A few years ago Gavin DeGraw was introduced to the songwriter for the stars, Diane Warren (Beyonce, Elton John, Aerosmith), and the two immediately hit it off. Since then, Warren periodically sent songs to DeGraw to consider recording, but he always politely resisted.

As a songwriter, I’m always hesitant to release someone else’s song,” DeGraw told Yahoo Music. “Then about two months ago, Diane sent me this beautiful song she wrote for the movie Dolphin Tale 2 called “You Got Me,” and I just connected with it. For me it was undeniable and I was hooked.”

DeGraw demoed the song with Warren at her studio and they recorded it with producer Mark Johnson. On July 28, DeGraw posted the song on iTunes and the track was immediately embraced.

That’s hardly a surprise. “You Got Me” begins as a strummy acoustic song with delicately swelling strings and DeGraw’s earnest, assuring vocals. As it builds, the orchestration becomes more prominent and a piano fleshes out the tune. By the end, there’s a full arrangement of electronic beats topping the more organic orchestration, as DeGraw sings lines like, “I’ll be the one to lead you home/I’ll be the one to keep you warm/ I’ll take you then out of the storm/When you can’t stand I’ll stand up for you.”

“The song and the film make for a beautiful pairing,” DeGraw said of the single for the movie, which stars Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd and opens September 12. “One of the things that appealed to me about the movie was the type of work the dolphin does working with wounded warriors and kids who need help. That’s really amazing stuff. Helping veterans and people in need is really important.”

Degraw will debut “You Got Me” onstage for the first time August 4 in Raleigh, North Carolina at the Red Hat Amphitheater; the concert will be streamed live by Yahoo and Live Nation. “I’m really looking forward to playing the song at the show,” DeGraw said. “Every time you get to unveil something brand new you get a little bit of that adrenaline rush. You have that anxiety and that excitement of, ‘Well, I hope I can do it as I want it performed.’ Since it’s brand new, you’re still a little bit uncertain, but that’s part of the excitement about it. It’s like skydiving. You never know what’s going to happen.“

The past year has been filled with career highlights for DeGraw. Last October, he released his fifth studio album, Make a Move, which debuted at number 10 on the Billboard album chart, and he opened for his greatest songwriting influence, Billy Joel, for much of February, March, and April.

“I saw Billy Joel play live when I was 15 and I said, ‘That’s it. That’s what I want to do!’” enthused DeGraw. “So getting a phone call from his office to play those shows was incredible — about the greatest dream come true I could imagine.”

DeGraw met Joel through Richie Canata, who played with Joel from 1976 to 1981 and later performed late-night New York ballroom shows with DeGraw. The two kept in touch and when Joel played Madison Square Garden in the mid aughts, Canata invited DeGraw to attend and brought him backstage to meet Joel.

“Billy said, ‘Hey, I’ve been reading about you, man.’” DeGraw said. “Then years later my pops, who’s my manager, gives me a shout. He said, ‘Hey, check this out. Billy Joel wants you to open for him!’ It was such a special opportunity. I got to play Madison Square Garden with him a whole bunch of times; Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, the Hollywood Bowl, you name it. It’s been a real trip.”

With U.S. dates scheduled through the end of August — including another Madison Square Garden show with Joel August 7 — and a European tour lined up for September, DeGraw is insanely busy, but that hasn’t stopped him from writing new songs in his tour bus or hotel. “I write new stuff every day,” he said. “I’m always working on new ideas and calling people and asking them if they want to work with me on something. I’ve already written some new songs and some of it is ready to go, some of it is still in the working stages. But I think there are a couple champions in there. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

While it’s too early to tell what his next album will sound like, DeGraw said some of his new songs have a nightlife party vibe, while others are more introspective. “As many moods as you can have throughout the day, I write about all of those,” DeGraw said. “I would compare some of the songs to Make a Move, but every time you do something new there’s going to be an element of what was and what’s going to be. I never want to do the same thing over and over. There’s an element of continuity so far, but there are certainly some new flavors.”

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