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13 November 2014

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You are in: Hampshire > People > Profiles > Craig David's Southampton

Craig David

Craig David in 2004

Craig David's Southampton

Craig David - one of the most influential RnB stars of the last decade - returns to his hometown to receive an honary degree in Music at Solent University this week. We look back at his formative years in Southampton.

Craig David was born in 1981 and grew up in the Holyrood housing estate in central Southampton.

The young Craig spent his time endlessly listening to his Mum Tina's collection of Stevie Wonder, Terence Trent D'Arby and Michael Jackson albums.

Craig David

Craig was goalkeeper for the school football team

He had music in his family background as his dad George played with local reggae band, the Ebony Rockers in the early 80s.

Although his mum thought school should come before clubbing, Craig had other ideas.

Before too long, Craig was getting into music big time - spending his time writing lyrics in his notebook, singing into his portable recorder and working in youth and community clubs as an MC and DJ.

Craig went to school at Bellemoor Boys School (now Upper Shirley High) on Hill Lane. As well as unsurprisingly excelling at music, he was also goalkeeper in the school football team.

Holyrood Estate

Holyrood Estate

The pupils at the school in subsequent years were justifiably proud of their famous 'old boy' - the school choir performing renditions of Craig's hits.

Mixing

It was clear that along with a huge record collection, Craig had some ideas to add to the emerging vibrant UK garage scene. He made his own tapes of mixes and tried to get them heard amongst his friends.

He was soon getting hold of the mic and DJing at clubs around the city - like Rhino's in Bedford Place. He teamed up with Mark Hill, from The Artful Dodger and his music began to evolve from the heavy reggae baselines and +8 accelerated tempos.

"I wouldn't have wanted to grow up anywhere else - it's such a multi-cultural, cosmopolitan city. And people do get behind each other and it was great with the music scene with The Artful Dodger coming out, being able to do my thing, at the same time as having the saviour of Matthew Le Tissier at Southampton!" said Craig in 2003.

Hits

Their first big hit together was 'Rewind' in 1999, which became a club favourite and Craig was soon touring the country. Chart success soon followed for Craig as a solo performer - 'Fill me In' and '7 Days' both made Number 1 and Craig was the hottest property in the music industry.

Craig David mania in 2000

Craig David mania in 2000

A UK tour brought a triumphant return to Southampton Guildhall for BBC Two's Later with Jools Holland along with Moby, Peter Gabriel and Gabrielle. In Autumn 2000 he was back on home ground, topping the bill himself.

Three Mobo awards and a record six Brit nominations (but controversially, no actual awards) showed Craig to be one of the biggest names in UK music.

2001 was spent conquering America. A massive publicity blitz was followed by a nationwide tour at the start of 2002. It must have worked, as he was one of the few British artists nominated for a prestigious Grammy Award.

Following his massive success, both in the UK and in the USA, coming back to Southampton was certainly different for Craig now. He told Radio 1: "My friends are really cool and down to earth and I can phone them up, we can go out and do 'normal' stuff, and I really appreciate and enjoy that. I can go and see my mum and my family and everyone."

"Normal stuff for me now is a case of if you wanna go for a meal we can go to like this really hidden location for a restaurant or something. That's the closest to normal I can get. I can't walk through the high street or anywhere really around my estate in the same way."

By 2002 Craig was ready to release his second album, Slicker Than Your Average, also produced by his old Southampton mate, Mark Hill.

Although the album hit included a duet with Sting, Rise and Fall, singles didn't chart as highly as before, spawning worries that Craig had neglected his fan base in the UK during his year in America.

Home

However he proved his heart was still very much in Southampton - especially when the Southampton football team made it through to the 2003 FA Cup Final, Craig wore a Saints shirt on stage at the Royal Albert Hall.

Craig David

Craig is a life-long Saints fan

Much of 2003 was spent back on the road - his UK tour climaxing with an exclusive gig back in his hometown, playing to just 500 lucky fans at the Hampshire Rose Bowl in October. Next stop a world tour hitting South East Asia, Australia, South Africa and Europe.

Despite the globetrotting, visiting BBC Radio Solent studios in 2004 Craig said he still saw Southampton as home:

"I'm proud of that. There's always times when you look back and I remember getting ticked off at school for not doing homework or for being late when I was at City College - and now it's 'Oh Craig was an amazing student - and his time keeping was excellent'... They've even got a picture of me in City College now.

"But Southampton is a city that people sometimes overlook and there's so many talented people here - I've been lucky to be a part of it."

In 2005 he released The Story Goes..., followed by Trust Me in 2007 and a greatest hits album later this month.

He returns to Southampton on Friday to receive a honorary degree of Doctor of Music for his contribution to the music industry at Solent's University's graduation ceremony at Southampton Guildhall.

last updated: 03/11/2008 at 11:51
created: 31/10/2008

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