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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".
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.
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.
In 1987, Hugh was signed to RCA Records. 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."
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). 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).
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. After a few years living and writing songs in rural North Carolina he wound up teaching songwriting at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
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 (Swamp Yankee Records), his first in 15 years, 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.
- Grayson Hugh (One of Nineteen Records, 1980)
- Blind to Reason (RCA Records, 1988) U.S. Billboard Top 200 peak #71
- Road to Freedom (MCA Records, 1992)
- An American Record (Swamp Yankee Records, 2010)
- Back To The Soul (Swamp Yankee Records), 2015)
- Cab Calloway Stands in For the Moon, (American Clave, 1995, recorded in 1987) Kip Hanrahan, producer. (vocals)
- Cashmere Dreams, (Grudge Records, 1989), Fernando Saunders. (keyboards)
- Nightlife, (Rhino Records, 1997), Jeff Golub. (vocals)
- Hiding Out In Plain Sight, (Elba Records, 1993), Caroline Doctorow. (piano & vocals)
- Get It While You Can, (Pacific Coast Jazz, 2013), Norman Johnson. (piano, vocals, writer on "Saudade")
- Thelma & Louise - Original Soundtrack, (MCA Records, 1991) - "I Can't Untie You From Me"
- Fried Green Tomatoes - Original Soundtrack, (MCA Records, 1992) - "I'll Remember You"
- Pretty Girls Everywhere: Beach Classics Vol.1, (RCA Records, 1992) - "Talk It Over"
- Do You Love Me? All-Time Best Love Songs, (RCA Records, 1996) - "How 'Bout Us?"
- Duets: A Woman and A Man, (DCC Records, 1996) - "How 'Bout Us?"
- Hits of the 80s, (Columbia River Records, 1998) - "Talk It Over"
- Sexy Soul, (K-Tel Records, 1998) - "Talk It Over"
- All For Love, (Amherst Records, 2000) - "How 'Bout Us?"
- Beach Music Anthology, Vol.3, (Ripete Records, 2000) - "Talk It Over"
- Chart Hits of the 80s, (Columbia River Records, 2001) - "Talk It Over"
|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||—|
- "Miami Herald: Search Results". newsbank.com.
- sparklecat (24 May 1991). "Thelma & Louise (1991)". IMDb.
- azifucare (24 January 1992). "Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)". IMDb.
- Billboard, Allmusic.com
- "American Clave - Cab Calloway Stands In For The Moon". americanclave.com.
- allmusic ((( Cashmere Dreams > Credits )))
- allmusic ((( Avenue Blue > Credits )))
- allmusic ((( Hiding out in Plain Sight > Credits )))
- Grayson Hugh at AllMusic
- "australian-charts.com - Australian charts portal". australian-charts.com. Retrieved 13 February 2012.