After signing a lucrative deal with premiership team West Ham FC, shortly followed by a debut appearance at Anfield against Liverpool FC, no one would ever imagine that a professional footballer would ever turn his back on the world of sport and find his way onto the big stage performing with Stevie Wonder, Jocelyn Brown, Aswad and Floetry, but that’s what Gavin Holligan did!
Despite making the unlikely transition, and enjoying various touring stints as background vocalist and keyboardist with established names - including Duffy (number 1 smash hit with 'Mercy' 2008), and Gloria Gaynor (legendary singer of disco hit 'I Will Survive'), Gavin became restless with the repetitiveness of it all, and eventually concluded that it was time to develop his own ideas.
This led to the BRIT School graduate slowly detaching himself from the session scene, and putting together a local monthly showcase called 'Chemistry' (guest performers included, Katy B, Shola Ama and Jaz Ellington - finalist on 'The Voice' TV series 2012). Meanwhile, Gavin assembled a shop-basement recording studio in the hope of honing his instinctive songwriting and production skills. After an extended period of experimentation, Gavin recorded and independently released a self produced uptempo song entitled 'Brighter Day', which was picked up by 1xtra DJ Lewis Barker, and featured on the ‘BBC introducing’ radio show in 2008.
Gavin then went on to pen a 6 track EP entitled “Faith to Fly”, seamlessly fusing many of his favourite genres in each piece. The ”Faith to Fly” EP, which was well received, featured energetic guitars, epic vocal arrangements, and hard hitting RnB grooves, however Gavin swiftly noted that it was mainly his emotive lyrics, spacious arrangements and heartfelt performances live that always seemed to capture his listeners so effortlessly. Consequently, Gavin concluded that his artistic signature needed to be far more defined. The dilemma was carefully considered, but it wasn’t too long before Gavin retreated back to the drawing board to explore a more fitting sound to accompany his unique vocal talent.
While on the journey of finding his own artistic identity, Gavin (Born and raised in South London) has been quietly hard at work over the years, penning and composing material for others. Notable efforts include the melancholy ballad 'Fly Again', which was co written by writer extraordinaire Jo Perry and Incognito lead vocalist Mo Brandis. The song was performed and released by female trio 'Stooshe' who enjoyed a top 10 album in 2014.
In 2015, Frank Mcombe, a singer-songwriter and musician widely respected as a musical genius from Cleaveland - Ohio, performed his version of a currently unreleased Jazz ballad entitled 'The Best Is Yet To Come' which Gavin co wrote with Luke 'Duke' Smith. Luke Smith - a seasoned top flight session musician and musical director (from George Michael to Chaka Khan), instantly fell in love with Gavin's vocal demo of "The Best Is Yet To Come, and since then has become significantly involved with Gavin's solo material, regularly featuring on Hammond Organ. Gavin in turn, has also been co-producing Luke's Alternative Jazz album, which will also feature musical pioneers - Roy Ayers and Brinsley Ford..
Gavin also recently collaborated with Singer Songwriter - Arrow Benjamin, (featured on Naughty Boys number 1 hit single alongside Beyonce in 2015) co-writing & producing a modern day anthem entitled 'Sirens'. Arrow has described 'Sirens' as a personal favourite, and the track is expected to feature on his debut album 'The Hymn book' due to be released in the spring of 2017.
Just one listen to the authentic blend of folk, jazz, blues and soul, and you can quickly start to draw similarities to a few current UK stars. In particular, the soulful, organic singer-songwriter Michael Kiwanuka, (Number 1 album “Love and Hate - 2016 ), who was once a budding session guitarist under Gavin’s wing, and performed rhythm guitar on the “Faith to Fly” Ep. Meanwhile, on self penned ballads such as 'You Loved and Lost', or mid tempo pieces such as 'The World Keeps Turning', Gavin displays his knack for gutsy yet poetic lyrics, and simple melodies accompanied by the piano, much like the popular work of Emile Sande. But we would need to look across the pond for a closer parallel to Gavin's artistry, starting with the jazz infused instrumentation behind the warm vocal palette of Grammy award winner Gregory Porter, or perhaps even the fresh spin on yesteryears Rhythm & Blues music, brought to us by the 10x Grammy award winner John Legend.
Gavin Holligan could easily be summed up as a 'modern day - classic artist', delivering much of the craftsmanship you would expect to hear from iconic heroes of old. With a rich musical history, potent songs, quality musicianship and an engaging stage presence, you can't help feeling that Gavin Holligan will always offer up his audience something worth waiting for!