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Craig David: Fine-Tuned & Forthright

British R&B Singer Craig David
John Rankin
By The ShowBuzz's Melissa Castellanos

With age, experience and a more worldly perspective, British R&B singer Craig David has evolved, but one thing has remained constant through the years -- his appetite for making music.

"I think now I am as hungry as when I had first started," David told The ShowBuzz. "When you have such a big explosion onto the scene with the first album, the second, the third album you are still kind of going with the motions, you're still riding the wave."

The talented 27-year-old Brit has been riding quite a wave since he was 18 when he released his first album, "Born to Do It" in 2000 which sold more than 7 million copies worldwide and earned him a Grammy nomination.

Photos: Celebrity Circuit
The album, which featured two Top 10 singles in "Fill Me In" and "7 Days," plus a top 20 hit, "Walking Away" acquired gold, platinum and multi-platinum status in over 20 countries.

He then went on to record "Slicker Than Your Average" (2002), "The Story Goes ... "(2005) and then released his long-awaited album "Trust Me" in 2007, which was recently released in the United States.

David's smooth R&B beats and lyrical flow have made him soar off the charts more so overseas than in the U.S., but it has put him on the American R&B radar as well.

Photos: The Winner's Box
Some may argue that David wasn't embraced by the American audience as much as the international one, or that he didn't get the acknowledgement that he deserved. However, he is unscathed by the chatter, and has worked even harder since.

"I think for me now -- especially coming back to the States and having not been here for a long time … I'm the person who is trying to get back up to the top again, so I am hungry to make an impact. It's fun for me, I like the challenge," David admitted.

For the most part, all David needs is his wide range of vocals accompanied by an acoustic guitar to pull off a stellar performance, but recording an album is a different story. He admits that when it comes to recording he is somewhat of a perfectionist.

This time around however, David's producer Martin Terefe (who produced James Morrison and KT Tunstall) wanted to add more of a raw authenticity to "Trust Me" by "trading perfection for performance."

In an effort to get David to think outside the box of standard professional recording, Terefe took David out of his environment.

2Terefe thought what better place to get his creative juices flowing than recording in Havana, Cuba - which has a rich musical past and present and is the birthplace of Mambo.

"The musicians there are incredible," David said.

With more antiquated equipment David had to work much harder to record the album -- despite having vocals as fine-tuned as an instrument.

"The way in which they record is a little more basic than what you would do at home," David said. "It puts you in an environment when you record like you are performing in front of a crowd. You have to catch the moment, 'cause if you make a mistake than you either have to keep it or go back to the start. I kind of like that. It made me want to step up my game. And all the imperfections on the record that I can hear -- that's what makes it real."

The end result was an up-tempo, soulful feel infused with horns and a slight touch of Latin beats. "Hot Stuff" samples David Bowie's "Let's Dance," "6 of 1 Thing" is brought to life with percussion and "Don't Play With Our Love" has Latin vigor.

Although David didn't perform while in Cuba, there were many Cuban musicians who have traveled to England who were familiar with his music, he explained.

"It is still very controlled in terms of what's played on TV and on the radio, so it's hard for an international artist to come out and make much of an impact there. Being out there allowed me to understand the culture as a whole," David said.

Witnessing Castro's communist Cuba allowed David to see the drastic difference between the youth who are longing for technology, music and fashion from the west and the elders who remain set in their ways and loyal to Castro.

Despite the clashing generation gaps and governmental woes in Cuba, David pointed out the benefit of its simplicity. Without the distractions of video games, and an abundance of TV, etc. there is more of an emphasis on family.

Family is ultimately what has helped David stay grounded.

"I have changed because I have grown up," David said. "You kind of have to change to grow up -- you see the world in a slightly different light. I am more experienced than I was before, I have seen places that I never thought I 'd ever go to, but I still have the same morals and respect that my family brought to me growing up. That should never change. I am in a very blessed position that I have been able to ascertain the lifestyle that a lot of people die for. I am very blessed in that sense."



David has a lengthy list of accolades, which include a 2001 Grammy nomination for "Best Male Pop Vocal Performance" and a pair of MTV Europe Video Music Awards for "Best R&B Act" and "Best U.K. Act."

The "Fill Me In" video earned David two trophies at 2001's Billboard Music Video Awards: "Best Dance New Artist Clip" and "Best R&B New Artist Clip." Three Ivor Novello Awards (including Songwriter of the Year and Best Contemporary Song), four MOBOs (one of which was for Best UK Act).

David has collaborated with the legendary Sting, Artful Dodger's Mark Hill and Pete Devereux. David was also featured on U.K. Rapper Kano's Top 20 single "This is The Girl."