John W. Kavanaugh
John is an Emmy-winning composer currently serving as songwriter/musical director for Disney’s princess, SOFIA THE FIRST and it’s first latina princess, ELENA OF AVALOR. The SOFIA premiere, ONCE UPON A PRINCESS, aired on the Disney Channel in November 2012 and was immediately crowned the #1 cable TV telecast ever for kids. The series itself premiered in January of 2013 with consistently royal ratings and the soundtrack with songs by Kavanaugh and collaborator (and Sofia’s creator) Craig Gerber, which was released in February, quickly reached number one! John was nominated, along with Gerber and Kevin Kliesch, who composes the brilliant underscore for the series, for a 2014 Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music for an Animated TV Broadcast Production. In April 2014, John and Craig took home the Daytime Emmy Award for “Outstanding Song: Main Title” for “Sofia The First”. Their tune “I Belong” garnered them an additional nomination for Best Original Song. For its first year on air, the series was nominated for a total of SIX Emmys, including Best Animated Preschool Program.
In 2010, with the help of long-time friends and associates, music producers Paul Freeman and Bob Wackerman of Audio By The Bay, John put the finishing touches on the score for CURIOUS GEORGE LIVE with lyrics by Jeremy Desmon for NBC Universal and The Vee Corporation. Audio By The Bay produced many of the projects listed in John's bio including Sea World's recent ONE OCEAN. The hit show featured several of John's songs; SIDE BY SIDE and WE'RE ONE.
Other long time clients include Universal Studios for which he composed many songs including the score for the live stage show THE FLINTSTONES with collaborator Barbara Epstein, as well as the original musical DREAMS ARE UNIVERSAL, with lyrics by Goldsmith, which opened in March 2010 at USJ in Osaka. With Epstein, John has written live stages for many cruise lines and most recently penned several shows for Azamara Luxury Cruises.
John also wrote the music to DRAGULA, a campy new musical version of the horror classic and, with Goldsmith, wrote the songs for the well received WE’RE ACTORS, PLEASE DON’T LEAVE, which ran in Los Angeles. Other projects include IT’S ONLY A DATE, a one act musical for the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop in New York, and the children’s musical, THE WAHOO WAGON, which played for several seasons at Disney’s El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. His piano/arranging skills can be heard on Star Trek android Brent Spiner’s album, "Ol’ Yellow Eyes is Back" and in many cabaret acts in New York and Los Angeles for performers like Carole Cooke and Tony Award-winning Michele Pawk.
2019 Annie Award Nominee
Outstanding Achievement in Music for "Elena of Avalor"
with Tony Morales, Craig Gerber, Rachel Ruderman & Silvia Olivas
2014 Emmy Award Winner
Outstanding Original Song - Main Title "Sofia The First"
with Craig Gerber
2014 Primetime Emmy Nominee
Outstanding Original Song "Merroway Cove"
with Craig Gerber
2014 Daytime Emmy Nominee
Outstanding Original Song "I Belong"
with Craig Gerber
2014 Annie Award Nominee
Outstanding Achievement in Music for "Sofia The First"
with Craig Gerber & Kevin Kliesch
John has a long history with the Walt Disney Company, composing many songs for their properties worldwide, including “Sea of Dreams” and “It’ll Be Magical”, two theme songs for Tokyo Disney Sea, and “The Dream Goes On” for Tokyo Disney Resorts’ 25h Anniversary. Since 1983, he frequently serves as musical director/arranger for many of their successful live shows and for television he served as M.D. on the first season of "The New Mickey Mouse Club" for the Disney Channel.
His musical HAVING IT ALL, with lyrics by David Goldsmith, was workshopped with great success at Manhattan's New World Stages in the prestigious New York Musical Theatre Festival and featured in The NAMT Songwriter Showcase. The World Premiere from producers David Elzer and Peter Schneider opened in LA in 2011 to rave reviews and is on its way to a fantastic future which included a run at the renowned Laguna Playhouse as part of its 2013 season.
His music can also be heard in several animated features - Disney’s hit Winnie The Pooh movie, SPRINGTIME WITH ROO, and the Nickelodeon musical GLOBE HUNTERS, AN AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS ADVENTURE which includes the song "Be Where You Are" featuring Chaka Kahn. With lyricist Marcy Heisler, John wrote "Joseph’s Lullaby" especially for Michael Crawford, featured on Crawford’s album ON EAGLE’S WINGS for Atlantic Records. He wrote music and lyrics to the theme for the 2003 Special Olympics, "You’re The Dream" recorded by the Walt Disney Records star Myra, and has written songs for the award winning television show Sesame Street.
Enjoying the excitement for SOFIA THE FIRST and ELENA of AVALOR!
What I Wish I was Doing:
Sipping a martini in Puerto Vallarta while I enjoy the excitement for SOFIA THE FIRST and ELENA of AVALOR.
You know who you are.
Rollins College, Winter Park, FL
The Walt Disney Company
Barbara Epstein & Associates
Audio By The Bay
The Vee Corporation
Tokyo Disney Resorts
In Motion Entertainment
Walt Disney Pictures