Grayson Hugh

Grayson Hugh

Grayson Hugh Performing at Pomarańczowy Fortepian (The Orange Piano), Pila, Poland, 2012
Background information
Birth name Grayson Hugh
Born (1950-10-30) October 30, 1950
Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Origin Danbury, Connecticut, United States
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, record producer
Instruments Vocals, piano, organ
Years active 1980–present
Associated acts Betty Wright, Olivia Newton-John
Notable instruments

Grayson Hugh (born in Hartford, Connecticut on October 30, 1950) is an American singer-songwriter, pianist, Hammond B3 organ player and composer. He is best known for his 1989 hit "Talk It Over", and his other blue-eyed soul hits "Bring It All Back" and "How Bout Us".

Early life

Hugh was the first generation of his family to be born in the United States, and grew up surrounded by classical music, his father being the classical music radio host Ivor Hugh (born in Hammersmith, England). His mother was born in Shanghai, the daughter of missionary, Dr. Frank Rawlinson (born in Bath, England). Dr. Rawlinson's nine books, including a life of Christ in Chinese, are in the Yale University Divinity Library.

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 an African-American gospel church and studied African drumming. He also studied piano with jazz pianist Jaki Byard and avant garde pianist Ran Blake. Hugh would drop out of high school during his junior year to focus on his music.[1]

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 also briefly attended film school at the University of Bridgeport. Hugh struggled with alcoholism in the 1970s, achieving sobriety in 1980.[1][2]



In 1980, Hugh released a self-titled album (One in Nineteen Records, 1980). This album was produced by Ron Scalise, winner of 14 Emmy Awards for audio work with ESPN.

Hugh moved to New York City in 1986 and due to a chance meeting with a talent scout in an elevator, Hugh was signed to RCA Records in 1987.[1] He broke into the Billboard Hot 100 in 1989 with three singles from his album Blind to Reason (RCA Records, 1988). In 1989 "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'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."[3]

Director Ridley Scott heard an advance pressing of Road to Freedom and wanted to put Hugh's music in his film Thelma & Louise (1991).[4] 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). Grayson's gospel-tinged arrangement of Bob Dylan's "I'll Remember You" was the featured end-title song for the film Fried Green Tomatoes (1991).[5]

However, Hugh struggled with the music business[1] and 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. Hugh was soon bankrupt as a result of financial mismanagement by his business team.[1][2][6] 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.[2]


As a result of stress and his mother's declining health, Hugh relapsed into alcoholism.[1][2] In 2004, now broke, homeless and estranged from his family and friends, Hugh suffered an near-fatal alcohol induced seizure that left him hospitalized.[1][2][6] In October 2004 he checked into a detox facility and shortly thereafter moved into a sober house in Wareham, Massachusetts[2] and he began working for minimum wage at a local McDonald's.[1] In 2005, he began meeting with a rehabilitation councilor named Dean Gilmore who happened to be a fan of his.[1][2] 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.[1][2] Hugh returned to music full-time in 2006.[2]

In August 2008 Hugh married his backup singer Polly Messer, Best Female Vocalist of CT (1981 - The Hartford Advocate), and former singer with the Connecticut swing band Eight To The Bar. Hugh's 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. In August 2016, Grayson Hugh announced his new band Grayson Hugh & The Moon Hawks, consisting of 17 year old blues guitar phenom Bobby Paltauf, bassist Anthony Candullo, drummer Tyger MacNeal and his wife and harmony singer Polly Messer.


Studio albums




Year Title Chart Positions
Billboard Hot 100
U.S. Adult Contemporary
U.S. Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles
Australia Aria Charts
1989 "Talk It Over" 19 9 4
1989 "Bring It All Back" 87 9
1990 "How 'Bout Us?" (duet with Betty Wright) 67 30


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Pianist, Singer Grayson Hugh Resurrects a Harmonious Life
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Bio|
  3. "Miami Herald: Search Results".
  4. sparklecat (24 May 1991). "Thelma & Louise (1991)". IMDb.
  5. azifucare (24 January 1992). "Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)". IMDb.
  6. 1 2 From Ruling Pop Charts to Being Homeless, Grayson Hugh Has Seen It All
  7. Billboard,
  8. "American Clave - Cab Calloway Stands In For The Moon".
  9. allmusic ((( Cashmere Dreams > Credits )))
  10. allmusic ((( Avenue Blue > Credits )))
  11. allmusic ((( Hiding out in Plain Sight > Credits )))
  12. 1 2 Grayson Hugh at AllMusic
  13. " - Australian charts portal". Retrieved 13 February 2012.

External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/4/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.