John is an Emmy Award-winning composer who most recently, with lyricist David Goldsmith, wrote the song MY ONCE UPON A TIME for Disney's Descendants 3 star Dove Cameron. The soundtrack album rose to number 1 within the first hour of release. He served as songwriter/musical director for Disney’s princess, SOFIA THE FIRST and is currently songwriter/musical director on Disney'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 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. Kavanaugh and Gerber were nominated for another Emmy in 2019 for the song FOR ONE AND ALL from Sofia's series finale, FOREVER ROYAL.
ELENA OF AVALOR has been nominated for seven Daytime Emmy Awards in it's first two seasons including Kavanugh's nomination - Outstanding Original Song for FALLIN' LIKE A ROCK. The music team won the 2019 Kidscreen Award for Best Music and was also nominated for a 2019 Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement. The show itself boasts many tributes including the NAMIC Vision Award 2019 which honors original programming that reflects the lives, spirit and contributions of people of color, and that represents the ethnic and cultural diversity of the viewing audience. The show won the Imagen award (often referred to as the Latino Golden Globes) for Outstanding Children's Program in 2017 and 2018 and was nominated once again in 2019.
The Elena Premiere - Jay Stutler, Kavanaugh, Aimee Carrero, Craig Gerber & Tony Morales
His music can also be heard in several animated movies - Disney’s hit Winnie The Pooh video, 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 for Michael Crawford, featured on Crawford’s album ON EAGLE’S WINGS on 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.
With Ariel Winter, the ah-mazing voice of Sofia, recording the Emmy-nominated song, "I Belong".
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.
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’ 25th 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.
n 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.
Elena's Music Team -(front) Jay Stutler, Kavanaugh, Danny Jacob (rear) Tony Morales, Rene Camacho
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.
The Elena of Avalor Team at the reception for 2019 Daytime Emmy Nominees.