By JOANNA CLAY / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Clad in a plaid scarf and blue button-down shirt, Gavyn Bailey pushed his black bangs from his eyes and cooed into the microphone Sunday evening as the 14-year-old released his first EP.
Though you might not be familiar with him yet, the Laguna Niguel resident could have been mistaken for a household name at his record-release party at ReMark’s restaurant in Laguna Beach.
About 150 people packed the small venue, with girls snapping photos on their cellphones, to see Bailey sing along with former “X Factor” contestant Drew Ryniewicz, Sabrina Lentini of the cable show “Majors & Minors” and local band the Perks.
Bailey’s EP, “Sickly in Love,” has been a long time coming for Bailey, who has followed his dream while battling a kidney ailment.
Right before Giselle Bailey gave birth to Gavyn, she was told he might not make it. He pulled through and received a kidney transplant when he was 3 years old. A couple of years ago, his body began to reject the kidney – common for transplant patients. He was flown to UCLA Medical Center, where he was treated. His condition has been stable since. But eventually he might need another transplant. He has been hospitalized three times in the past couple of months, his mother said.
Now, however, he’s basking in limelight brightened by his recent nomination for Best Youth Artist in the OC Music Awards coming March 9 to City National Grove of Anaheim.
The past year, Bailey has toured from San Diego to Santa Barbara, with his cousins as backup. He sang at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles for an event for charity The Painted Turtle and had the chance to meet big musical names such as Katy Perry, Alicia Keys and Carole King.
The Painted Turtle has a camp for children with life-threatening illnesses that Bailey attended when he was younger. One-fourth of the proceeds from Bailey’s event Sunday will go to the charity.
He has juggled home-schooling and church choir with TV auditions, studio production and songwriting sessions with friends Parker Hernandez and Dixie Maxwell, who co-wrote many of the tunes on his EP.
After one of his recent hospitalizations, the day he got out he went immediately to a gig.
The five songs on the EP – which Bailey describes as “indie acoustic pop” – cover themes such as love, identity and adulthood.
Bailey acknowledges he’s had to grow up faster than most, though he said he doesn’t let the unpredictability of his health get him down. “I’m doing great now. Every day there is always something new,” he said. “Music is probably the reason I’m doing so great.”
Hernandez, an Aliso Niguel High School senior, thinks highly of his friend of two years.
“He really treats it like no big deal,” Hernandez said. “He’s always looking forward to get out and play music. I remember one time I visited him in the hospital and he begged me to bring my guitar in … so he could get his mind off it for a while.”
How to hear the EP
“Sickly in Love” can be purchased on iTunes at itunes.apple.com/us/album/sickly-in-love-ep/id593164460.
You can follow Gavyn Bailey at gavynbaileymusic.com.