ATLANTA (AP) — When Elton John said last year that R&B singer Gallant was "going to be huge," the 24-year-old felt unworthy of the praise.
"It was very strange," Gallant said. "It was so undeserving of me getting that type of attention. I was surprised that he was even listening to my music. He's a legend. To hear him speak with so much enthusiasm about me, it was surreal."
John's endorsement of Gallant's single "Weight of Gold" affirmed Gallant's inclination to stay true to himself musically.
The extra vote of confidence seems to be working for Gallant, who released his debut studio album "Ology" this month. In the past several months, Gallant has garnered fans from Moby and DJ Zane Lowe. Earlier this month, he shared the stage with Seal at Coachella.
"It made me ask myself more questions," he said. "It makes me want to open up even more. ('Ology') is purely just me not letting my inner voice get away with avoiding any answers to whatever questions I might have. Why am I acting this way? Why do I feel this way? Where am I going? I really want to just grow and evolve as a human being. It motivates me in that respect."
The album details the depth of his insecurities and his pursuit of optimism, showcasing the soul singer's booming falsetto voice. He was initially nervous about how the album would be received.
"It's right on the line of me not wanting people to hear this," he said. "Even the delivery on some songs, I wondered if this would be too much. ... I was hoping that it counts for something and people can connect with it."
Gallant said his uncertainty about his music came from a place of depression. After high school, he moved from a Maryland suburb to New York to study music at NYU with expectations of launching his singing career, but the self-proclaimed "introvert" said he often felt musically stifled and was never comfortable.
About three years ago, he moved to Los Angeles and self-released his EP "Zebra," which detailed the aftermath of his somber state of living in New York.
"I was just putting something out that was raw," he said. "The industry in New York initially thought I shouldn't be doing it. I didn't understand it. But that was the beginning for me. It allowed me to move and meet genuine people. It eventually propelled me to have more confidence, dig even deeper and be free. That's all I've ever wanted to be."
Follow Jonathan Landrum Jr. on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MrLandrum31 . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/jonathan-landrum-jr