|Birth name||Grayson Hugh|
|Born||October 30, 1960|
Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.
|Origin||West Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.|
|Occupation(s)||Singer-songwriter, record producer|
|Instruments||Vocals, piano, organ|
|Associated acts||Betty Wright, The Blow Monkeys, Kip Hanrahan, Fernando Saunders, Jeff Golub, Dickey Betts, Phoebe Snow, Ian Hunter, Mick Ronson.|
Grayson Hugh (born October 30, 1960) is an American singer-songwriter, pianist, Hammond B3 organ player and composer. He is best known for his 1988 hit "Talk It Over", and his other blue-eyed soul hits "Bring It All Back" and "How 'Bout Us?".
Hugh was the first generation of his family to be born in the United States, and grew up surrounded by classical music. His father was classical music radio host Ivor Hugh (born in Hammersmith, England); his mother was born in Shanghai, the daughter of missionary Frank Rawlinson (born in Bath, England), who wrote nine books, including a life of Christ in Chinese.
Hugh began playing the piano at the age of three years. In his early teens, however, rock and roll and soul won out. He played for a year as the pianist in a black gospel church and studied African drumming. He studied piano with jazz pianist Jaki Byard and avant garde pianist Ran Blake. Hugh dropped out of high school during his junior year to focus on his music.
During his 20s, Hugh supplemented his income as a rock and soul musician by accompanying modern dance classes. This began his association as composer for several well-known choreographers, notably Viola Farber of New York, Prometheus Dance and Christine Bennett of Cambridge, Massachusetts. He briefly attended film school at the University of Bridgeport. Hugh struggled with alcoholism in the 1970s, achieving sobriety in 1980.
Hugh moved to New York City in 1986 where he happened to meet producer Michael Baker in an elevator. Baker was finishing producing The Blow Monkeys's album She Was Only a Grocer's Daughter for RCA Records. Hugh was hired to sing backup vocals on that album and subsequently signed to RCA Records as singer-songwriter in 1987. He broke into the Billboard Hot 100 in 1989 with three singles from his album Blind to Reason (RCA Records, 1988). In 1988 "Talk It Over", a song written by Sandy Linzer and Irwin Levine that Hugh arranged, reached the Top 20.
After Hugh had arranged and recorded this song, Olivia Newton-John was given rights of first release, then recorded it herself and released it as a single under the name "Can't We Talk It Over In Bed". Hugh subsequently released his version which became a hit. His two other singles "Bring It All Back" and "How 'Bout Us" (a remake of the 1981 Champaign hit recorded with Betty Wright) were also radio hits. Blind to Reason eventually went gold in Australia. Hugh toured extensively in 1988 in the U.S. and overseas, at first opening for Dickey Betts, Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson, Sheena Easton and Phoebe Snow, before beginning several years of headlining his own tours.
Hugh's second major label album Road to Freedom (MCA Records, 1992) was voted "one of the year's top-ten albums" by Billboard Magazine and received rave reviews. Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Miami Herald said: "Have I heard any newcomer in the last decade who excites me as much as this guy? No."
Director Ridley Scott heard an advance pressing of Road to Freedom and wanted to put Hugh's music in his film Thelma & Louise (1991). They eventually settled on two: "I Can't Untie You From Me" and "Don't Look Back" (both of these songs having some additional music contributed by songwriter Holly Knight). His gospel-tinged arrangement of Bob Dylan's "I'll Remember You" was the featured end-title song for the film Fried Green Tomatoes (1991).
In 1993, the A&R man who signed Grayson to MCA Records (Paul Atkinson) was fired, and Hugh was dropped from the label, along with the other acts Atkinson had signed. In 1999, Hugh was forced to declare bankruptcy as a result of financial mismanagement by his business team.
Disillusioned, Hugh left the music industry and moved to North Carolina in 1994, where he began writing music freelance. Afterwards, he moved back northeast to take a job teaching songwriting at Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1999. While there, he was commissioned to compose scores for dance companies.
As a result of stress and his mother's declining health, Hugh relapsed into alcoholism. In 2004, now broke, homeless and estranged from his family and friends, Hugh suffered a near-fatal alcohol-induced seizure that left him hospitalized. In October 2004 he checked into a detox facility and shortly thereafter moved into a sober house in Wareham, Massachusetts.
In 2005, he began meeting with a rehabilitation councilor named Dean Gilmore who happened to be a fan of his. Gilmore convinced Hugh to return to creating music full-time to help maintain his sobriety and had his agency provide Hugh the seed money to record a new album. Hugh began writing and recording his comeback record, and returned to music full-time in 2007. In August 2008 Hugh married his backup singer Polly Messer. His recording An American Record was released on May 1, 2010.
Since the release of An American Record, Grayson Hugh has been touring the U.S. and Europe. He released his new album Back to the Soul, a return to his southern soul roots, on August 12, 2015. Back to the Soul was on the Ballot for a 2015 Grammy in the Best Americana Album category. In August 2016, Hugh announced his new band Grayson Hugh & The Moon Hawks. Hugh is currently working on a new roots country album called "Save Your Love For Me", scheduled for a release to be announced. He is also collaborating with Hungarian filmmaker Balázs Hatvani (director of Gingerclown), for the upcoming film "Captain Flame", for which he composed two songs "Out Of Limbo" and "Captain Flame".
Due to the global coronavirus pandemic, in March 2020, Hugh was forced to put the recording of his new album "Save Your Love For Me" on hold, with a release expected sometime in 2021. A New Zealand Tour had been planned for the Summer of 2020, but due to pandemic, that also was cancelled, with the hope of rescheduling it in 2021. On November 1, 2020 Hugh, along with his wife singer Polly Messer, performed a live streaming concert at Caffé Lena, the legendary longest continually-running coffeehouse in Saratoga Springs, New York. A return date is scheduled for March 13, 2021, where Hugh will add his new guitar player-singer Tim McDonald to the lineup. In December 2020, Hugh composed "Five Pieces For A Lockdown" in collaboration with French-Danish contemporary dancer, choreographer and filmmaker Laura Guy, who is based in Berlin. Hugh will also be composing a score for "Captain Flame", the Hungarian film by Balázs Hatvani.
|Title||Details||Peak chart positions||Certifications|
|Blind to Reason||
|Road to Freedom||
|An American Record||
|Back to the Soul||
|Off the Road||
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Certifications||Album|
|US Hot 100
|"Tears of Love"||1988||-||-||-||Blind to Reason|
|"Talk It Over"||19||9||4|
|"Bring It All Back"||1989||87||9||88|
|"How 'Bout Us?"
(duet with Betty Wright)
|"Soul Cat Girl"||1992||-||-||-||Road to Freedom|
- Erik Ofgang (March 28, 2013). "Grayson Hugh's Harmonious Life". Courant.com. Hartford Courant. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
- Grayson Hugh biography, GraysonHugh.net; accessed May 29, 2017.
- "Miami Herald: Search Results". newsbank.com.
- sparklecat (May 24, 1991). "Thelma & Louise (1991)". IMDb.
- azifucare (January 24, 1992). "Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)". IMDb.
- From Ruling Pop Charts to Being Homeless, Grayson Hugh Has Seen It All, connecticutmag.com; accessed May 29, 2017.
- Billboard, Allmusic.com
- "australian-charts.com - Australian charts portal". australian-charts.com. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
- Top 100 peaks from January 1990 to December 2010 and certifications: Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (pdf ed.). Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 133.
- "Bring It All Back" & "How 'Bout Us":"bubbling Down Under Week commencing 18 June 1990". www.bubblingdownunder.com. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
- Grayson Hugh at AllMusic