Bridging classic soul with the oblique slant of modern R&B, Gallant has quickly positioned himself as a bold new singer-songwriter. Raised in suburban Maryland on Babyface and Brandy, the artist, born Christopher Gallant in 1991, studied music at NYU before burning out on New York and moving to LA's San Fernando Valley (he liked the trees). Passionate but atmospheric, 2014’s Zebra set off a chain reaction that culminated in 2015’s “Weight in Gold,” an explosive piece of digital gospel that, he later said, was an effort to lay it all on the table; not only was it a major leap forward in his sound, but it was also the first “World Exclusive” on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 radio show. (The song was cosigned by Elton John and later performed with Seal—not bad.) He went on to forge a series of unlikely collaborations—with Jhené Aiko, indie folksinger Sufjan Stevens, dance producer ZHU—while further developing the cathartic live presence that got him notice in the first place. Mixing electronic textures, falsetto delivery, and bluesy introspection, 2016’s Grammy-nominated Ology kept the pace, putting Gallant in league with artists like Frank Ocean and Miguel—singers who respect tradition without being beholden to it, stretching R&B into adventurous new shapes.
- Washington, D.C.