- Associated Press - Sunday, January 15, 2017

GEORGETOWN, S.C. (AP) - As the clock quickly ticked down on 2016, up-and-coming R&B; artist Gallant was exactly where he wanted to be - in Georgetown, South Carolina.

Spending the Christmas holidays with family in the Lowcountry was the culmination of a monumental year for Gallant. He’s toured the world, appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and even earned a Grammy nomination.

“I felt,” Gallant said in a New Year’s Eve interview with The Georgetown Times, “I belonged there.”

When he talks about belonging, he’s talking about his life as a musician and about performing in London, Paris, Berlin and even Seoul, South Korea. And he’s also talking about spending time with his grandmother, Valschia Gallant Brown, in Georgetown, an annual family Christmas tradition.

Born Chris Gallant III, the singer is the son of Chris Gallant Jr., who grew up in Georgetown before moving to the Washington, D.C., area. Each year, father and son return to Georgetown to spend the week of Christmas with family.

“It’s a tradition that we go back and visit my grandmother and have a family reunion of sorts and while also celebrating the Christmas holiday,” said the 25-year-old singer who has ditched his first name for the mononym of Gallant as his stage name. “It’s very close to my heart. Every time I’m back in Georgetown, it reminds me of family and my lineage.”

Gallant started writing music and recording three years ago. His debut album, Ology, was released in April 2016 and quickly garnered accolades from around the globe. Writing music, he said, has been “a form of self-therapy.”

“It was . a way to work with issues or jump over hurdles that were bogging my mind down during that period of my life,” he said. “Everyone has their own teenage angst in some sense and, for me, the way I could get everything inside me out was through writing music.

“I have no idea what made me gravitate toward music. It could have been something other than music, but that’s just what it happened to be for me. It just became a habit and got out of control, and I stuck to that principle as a motivating force.”

His self-penned music, often featuring his falsetto that’s been dubbed “superhuman,” has been called “introspective” and “poetic.”

“Before and after writing lyrics,” Gallant said, “I can feel like a completely different person almost. Sometimes that shift can take a few weeks or months, but just that constant growth on a personal level is something that continues to motivate me and to keep writing. .

“I write in stages. Sometimes there’s something very, very urgent that I want explore and that I ask myself. That’s basically what spearheaded the entire creative process for the album that came out. I’m sure once I get that type of urge again to dive into an issue, I’ll once again start another body of work.”

Gallant graduated from New York University in 2013 but only studied music in “an observatory kind of style,” he said.

When he started writing music and performing, it came as a surprise to family and friends.

“I’m a very private guy,” Gallant explained. “I was a very quiet kid, more so than most, I think. It was a shock to some that I was doing something that put me so out there. Even now, I think people are surprised what I’m doing now. Again, I’m a quiet kind of guy.”

Music critics, however, have not been quiet about Gallant. Billboard magazine labeled him as the “breakthrough artist” of the year, and British music magazine NME called him “the voice that will redefine R&B.;” The Guardian wrote, “If this is what R&B;’s future looks like, it’s brighter than ever,” and Entertainment Weekly named “Ology” one of the best albums of 2016.

Gallant’s first televised performance was on “The Tonight Show,” where he received a standing ovation after performing his single “Weight In Gold.” Host Jimmy Fallon was effusive, declaring to the audience, “I told you! . Watch out for this guy!”

“I didn’t think it would go as smoothly as it did for me,” Gallant said. “To get off the stage with that being on film as my debut TV performance, it made me feel really good.”

His album is nominated for a Grammy in the Best Urban Contemporary Album category, competing against King’s “We Are King,” Anderson Paak’s “Malibu,” Rihanna’s “Anti” and Beyonce’s juggernaut “Lemonade.”

Gallant was in the Netherlands when he learned of his nomination.

“It was a huge surprise,” he said. “. To get that kind of accolade or even just a head nod really on basically my first album, my first try, my first statement is amazing.

“To be among such talent in the category I’m in, it’s really an honor. I feel like just being nominated, I’ve already won.”

In addition to recording and touring, Gallant has produced a series of filmed duets called “In the Room.” Episodes include performances with celebrated artists such as Sufjan Stevens, which has received more than 250,000 views on YouTube, and Seal, racking up nearly a half million views.

Despite being a newcomer to the music scene, Gallant’s performances come across with the confidence of a well-established artist.

“I’m glad it comes off as confident, but it’s definitely intimidating,” he said. “Seal is someone I’ve been talking about for a long time. . Just to meet with him and get to shake hands was huge for me, but to be in the same room with him and have him sing one of my songs was such an honor.”

And, closer to home and in Georgetown, Gallant is getting plenty of praise, too.

“My father . has always been rooting for me since I was a child,” he said. “I know my grandmother’s really proud of me.

“When I’m in Georgetown, it feels like I’m walking in history. I’m amazed at every new anecdote I hear about the city . and the depth of connectiveness basically to the foundations of the nation.

“It’s really inspiring and overwhelming. Every time I’m back, it’s like a history lesson. I’m proud to have roots in Georgetown. It’s a blessing and an honor to be staying here right now and to know I’ll be back next year and every year after that.”

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