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Tuesday, 27 February, 2001, 11:03 GMT
Craig David: The Brits' big hope
Craig David
Born to win it - one day?: Craig David
Craig David started the 21st Century as one of its first new stars.

Having emerged from seemingly nowhere in the summer of 1999, he is now one of the British pop industry's valuable properties.

He managed to hang on to his credibility while enjoying enormous popularity - a task most performers find impossible, never mind those who are still 19 and living with their mother in Southampton.

Parental influence

David has his parents to thank for much of his success. His father George played in a reggae band called Ebony Rockers, and he grew up obsessed by hip-hop and R 'n' B.

Craig David
Capital Radio co-owns David's label - and gave him a show as well
By the age of 14 he was sneaking out into clubs to pursue his love of music, and approached a DJ called Flash.

Through Flash, he began to appear on the local club circuit, and also got himself gigs on a pirate radio station.

"I loved DJing so much; you'd come home from school and do your homework, and then on Friday and Saturday you'd be out playing," he recalled.

At 15, David was playing at a club called Juice. While he was playing R 'n' B and hip-hop downstairs, respected local producer Mark Hill was playing a US garage set upstairs.

They met up, Hill invited him to his studio, and they began writing together.

David's mother, Tina, also entered him into a national songwriting competition, which led to him writing a song for boy band Damage called Unready.

Artful collaborations

Hill, together with Pete Devereux, formed the Artful Dodger, and David appeared on early Artful Dodger tracks What You Wanna Do and Human, a cover of the Human League track.

Craig David
Mobo success: David now wants to break the US market
These got Artful Dodger - and Craig David - noticed as the UK garage scene, with its light and skippy drumbeats, cut-up vocals and booming baselines, filled dancefloors across the country in the late 90s.

David signed up with Wildstar records - co-owned by record giant Telstar and broadcaster Capital Radio, while another Craig David/ Artful Dodger track, Rewind was released as a white label.

When UK garage suddenly burst into the mainstream in late 1999, Rewind became a huge hit, dominating dancefloors and radio playlists, only kept off the number one spot by Sir Cliff Richard's Millennium Prayer.

Then it all seemed to happen at once - David's vocals were heard on another Artful Dodger track, Woman Trouble, before his first solo single - Fill Me In - shot into the chart at number one.

His first solo album, Born To Do It, followed suit in the summer of 2000.

In October he won three Mobo (Music of Black Origin) awards - setting him up nicely for a triumph at the Brits.

Born To Do It has now sold more than 1.3 million copies, and in January, he signed an American deal with Atlantic Records. Much of his 2001 will be spent trying to break the American market.


Rock acts find the US a difficult nut to crack at the best of times, but the job is even harder for UK R 'n' B stars, especially with the likes of R Kelly, Sisqo and Destiny's Child to compete with.

But David's appreciation of traditional R 'n' B values, plus his dedication to his music should give him a real chance of success.

Mr Hill noted that even at 14, "he was so dedicated to what he was doing, nobody could believe how young he was".

Even now, he rarely drinks and still has not officially moved out of his mother's flat.

Despite the seemingly perverse events of Monday night, it's almost certain that Craig David will eventually have the last laugh on the judges who denied him a fistful of Brits.

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See also:

25 Jan 01 | Entertainment
South Bank prize for Craig David
29 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Football bans Craig David
05 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Mobo hat-trick for Craig
06 Sep 00 | Entertainment
David sweeps Mobo nominations
14 Aug 00 | New Music Releases
CD Review: Craig David
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