Busker John Garrity hopes David Gray can give him another step up the white scale.
is an unexpected duet with Gray before his recent SSE Arena gig has already been viewed almost half a million times online.
The singer, on a 20th anniversary tour of his album White Ladder, usually stays away from social media, but when he heard John sing one of his tracks while out for a walk in the center- city of Belfast, he filmed him and sang with him.
Now the ex-cab driver is hoping singer David can help out again by sharing John’s studio version of One I Love.
And he’s sure Gray will remember him as the guy who got his words wrong.
“It was a huge thing that happened to me, mostly because he’s a private guy and he doesn’t really care about social media,” John said.
“When a band or an artist comes, I try to create a bit of a vibe when I’m playing on the street and playing their music, and someone asked me to play One I Love.
“I grew up listening to David Gray but it’s been a long time since I heard that track and I mixed the lyrics he recorded into his video.
“He approached me and I recognized him right away. He stood by me, sang with me and asked if I was going to the show. He was really civil and really nice .”
John, from Trillick in Tyrone, was in the studio earlier this week to properly record the track, which he sent to David.
He knows the value of celebrity endorsement after a friend posted a video of him on the street in Belfast singing All I Want by Kodaline. This led to a live performance on The Stephen Nolan Show in February 2020, featuring a surprise appearance from the band’s Steve Garrigan.
“When I made this song, the video went viral and got a couple million views, and then Kodaline came along and joined me on the TV show.
“I had a gig scheduled at the Empire Music Hall and while the TV show was airing, the gig sold out.”
The 31-year-old spent years working in the family taxi business with his parents while pursuing his love of music. He traveled to Nashville several times to experience different styles of country music, as well as to LA and New York.
John built his reputation in pub gigs and he now combines street performances with private or corporate bookings.
“Music has always been a big part of my life and I’ve become a bit more well-known since moving to Belfast and playing in the streets,” he says.
“I thought it was going to be a lot harder than it was. You have to work at it and be consistent. It’s not just about showing up with a speaker and singing a few songs. You have to have a routine and make people appreciate what you do.
“I do four or five days a week now and I have people messaging me from Dublin or Derry asking when I’m on the street and planning their trip for a day when I’m away. I do Liverpool every other month like well, so I have a following there too.”
He has already released two albums of his favorite songs and plans to record a collection of original tracks by early 2023. John, whose partner is local singer Alannah del Rich, has his fingers crossed for an answer from David Gray.
“A lot of these guys just want a quiet life, so for him, that’s already given me a huge boost,” says John.