If ever a person were born to entertain, it's Billy Crawford. Singing and dancing since toddler-hood, Billy has attained a new maturity on his second V2 release, "Ride." Billy may have all the attributes of a teen pin-up, but he's got much more going for him than the current rash of interchangeable pretty faces. Skills from a lifetime of performing, combined with unstoppable youthful energy, have resulted in the blossoming of an already accomplished artist into a true star.
Billboard Magazine called the first two singles from Billy's eponymous debut album "highly original" and declared that he was "overwhelmingly talented" (his new single) exceeds anything our favorite boy bands have handed out." The magazine also noted that Billy, "while only 16, is suave, confident and shows a precocious talent for songwriting, glorious singing, and moving through some pretty serious dance stepsÉAnything less than fully realized success would be just plain daft." Spin Magazine admitted: "Butter-throated seventeener Billy Crawford rocks an album of pop grooves older than he is like each is a new power generation and we were all born yesterday." And CD Now raved, "The irresistibly catchy first single, 'Urgently in Love,' featuring Nona Hendryx on backing vocals, is funkier than anything in the Backstreet Boys' dreams."
What sets Billy apart? For starters, he fulfilled an 8-year run on a Phillippine weekly variety TV show and acted in 10 films, all before puberty. In fact, he picked up the local version of an Academy Award for best child actor when he was only 6. For those unfamiliar with his back story: Billy was born in the Philippines, his mother's homeland, and was 'discovered' at the tender age of 2 while dancing on a table at a bowling alley frequented by his mom. At 12, the family moved to his father's home state of Texas; charmingly, he still evinces the cadences and phrases of the area ("Lord have mercy!") in his speech.
That first record was made when he was between the ages of 13 and 14; in the interval, Billy had a steep learning curve. "I learned so much from the last album, just being in the room with amazing songwriters and producers," he says. "The most important thing is that I learned how to write songsÉlife itself inspires me." In actual process, "I go into the studio about 4 in the afternoon. The producer makes his little beat and lets it keep going. Melodies just start coming into my head and I begin humming things, ad-libbing, then the words start coming. I finish up around 7 or 8 p.m., record at around 10 and whatever we need to finish, we do the next day." A drummer and percussionist ("I play anything that rattles"), Billy admits that: "I love rhythm. Slow, fast, it doesn't matter."
Since the first album, Billy has been a blur of activitiy. He achieved double-platinum status with the theme song to "Pokemon: The First Movie." He co-starred alongside actor John Lithgow on the album "Ogden Nash and The Christmas That Almost Wasn't," which benefited the National Theatre of the Deaf. He also completed a string of dates with 'N Sync, another tour with 98¡ and Monica, as well as a mall tour of his own. Yet Billy is refreshingly unspoiled; he confesses that his "goal in this whole career is to buy a really nice house" for his parents.
In his rare downtime, Billy enjoys "watching new movies, renting tapes and inviting a bunch of people to come over. We talk all night, we play video games, we go online. I just do what other 18-year-olds do." That includes partying: "I go out clubbing if I have nothing to do. If I have something to do the next day, I still go clubbing!" But now that the album's out, and selling in huge quantities all over Europe, there's less time for clubbing! Billy's also starring in a major movie with Liam Neeson, which will be filmed over the summer.
Ride went gold the day it was released, the first single 'Trackin' has won platinum and gold awards already and is still rising in the charts all over Europe, and the second single looks set to do even better. 2002 will be the year in which one of the most talented performers in the world becomes a true star. Watch this space!