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Busker John hopes for help from singer David Gray after his 'duet' goes viral

The former taxi driver is hoping singer David can help out again by sharing John's studio version of One I Love.

Busker John Garrity

Busker John Garrity and David Gray

Roisin Gorman

Busker John Garrity hopes David Gray can give him another step up the White Ladder.

His unexpected duet with Gray before his SSE Arena gig recently has already been viewed nearly half a million times online.

The singer, on a 20th anniversary tour of his White Ladder album, usually stays away from social media but when he heard John sing one of his tracks during a walkabout in Belfast city centre, he filmed him and sang along.

Now the former taxi 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 lyrics wrong.

"It was a massive thing to happen to me, especially because he's a private guy and doesn't really bother with social media," says John.

"When a group or artist is coming, I'll try and create a bit of atmosphere when I'm busking and play 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 up the lyrics which he recorded in his video.

"He just walked up to me and I recognised him straight away. He stood with me and 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's sent to David.

He knows the value of celebrity support after a friend posted a video of him busking in Belfast, singing All I Want by Kodaline. It led to a live performance on the Stephen Nolan Show in February 2020, with a surprise appearance from the band's Steve Garrigan.

Busker John Garrity and David Gray

"When I did that song the video went viral and got a couple of million views, and then Kodaline came up and joined me on the TV show.

"I had a gig lined up in the Empire Music Hall and while the TV show was being aired 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's been to Nashville several times to learn about different styles of country music, as well as LA and New York.

John built his reputation in pub gigs and he now combines busking with private or corporate bookings.

"Music has always been a massive part of my life and I've become a bit better known since moving to Belfast and busking," 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 showing up with a speaker and singing a few songs. You have to have a routine and make people appreciate what you're doing.

"I do four or five days a week now and I've got people messaging me from Dublin or Derry and asking when I'm busking and planning their trip for a day I'll be out. I do Liverpool every couple of months as well, so I have a following there too."

He's already released two albums of his favourite songs and plans to record a collection of original tracks by early 2023. John, whose partner is local singer Alannah del Rich, is keeping his fingers crossed for a response from David Gray.

"A lot of these guys just want a quiet life so for him to do that has already given me a massive boost," says John.

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