Craig David Two-Steps Across Atlantic With Born To Do It

Twenty-year-old's U.K. garage debut hits U.S. stores July 31.

It should come as no surprise that Craig David, the 20-year-old poster boy for the U.K. two-step movement, is on everyone's hit list these days.

In addition to selling 4 million records worldwide before making his stateside debut, the teenage star recently received top honors at England's Ivor Novello Awards.

All the attention has taken the young up-and-comer by surprise.

"It amazes me that I've connected with people so far away from home," David said of his far-flung European fan base. "It was flattering to go out and play sold-out gigs. It was surreal."

After being snubbed at this year's Brit Awards (see "Robbie Williams, U2, Coldplay Dominate Brit Awards"), David made an impressive showing at the Ivor Novello Awards (see "Craig David, David Gray, All Saints Win At Ivor Novello Awards"), where he bested U2 for the Best Contemporary Song prize.

"Ivor Novello is a very prestigious award for songwriters," David said. "To be nominated for one was an honor. I was a newcomer but there are people who've worked years for an Ivor Novello Award."

U2 dedicated their performance at this year's Brits to David, who left the ceremony empty-handed although he was nominated for four awards. Since then, Bono has been talking with David about giving one of their songs the two-step remix treatment.

Two-step, also known as U.K. garage (rhymes with "carriage"), blends elements of American R&B with drum'n'bass beats. Two-steppers such as the Artful Dodger and MJ Cole have enjoyed success in and out of clubs on both sides of the Atlantic.

Boasting influences ranging from Terence Trent D'Arby to Jay-Z, Craig David's blend of American R&B and British dance music holds its own among such domestic heavy rotators as R. Kelly, Usher and Donell Jones — all of whom David also lists as influences.

Craig has already acquired quite the fan club among his music-making contemporaries. Stevie Wonder and Elton John have sung his praises, with the latter reportedly stating at the Brit Awards that "If there's a better singer than Craig David in Britain, then I'm Margaret Thatcher."

David's debut album, which will hit U.S. stores July 31, borrows its name from a soliloquy in his favorite movie, "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory."

"There's a scene where the boy runs into the candy shop and asks the candy man how he does it," David explained. "The candy man replies, 'Do you ask a bird how it flies? Do you ask a fish how it swims? Nosiree you don't, because they were born to do it.' I feel I was born to sing and write songs."

David has been singing since age 15, when he won a songwriting competition. He got into the game via DJ gigs in his Southampton, England, hometown.

"I was originally interested in being an MC, 'cause that was a natural complement to the DJ thing," David said. "And when I began doing the whole thing as a DJ-cum-MC who could harmonize and rap over the tracks, it just progressed from there."

Most of the world was introduced to David through his work on the Artful Dodger's two-step breakthrough, "Rewind," which began as a white-label bootleg before entering the British singles chart at #2.

With his debut single (and video) "Fill Me In" generating early stateside buzz, does David expect equal success on this side of the Atlantic?

"Regardless of who you are and what kind of success you may have had outside the States," he said, "you have to look at the U.S. as a fresh start. 'Cause a lot of people will say, 'OK, it's great you did that over there. But you're in the U.S. now.'"