Raised in the quiet suburb of West Hartford, Connecticut, singer/songwriter/pianist Grayson Hugh moved to New York City in 1986, determined to get a record deal. Camping out in a friend's basement barber shop, he pounding on doors with his tapes the old-fashioned way, playing his songs for everyone he could. He soon caught the attention of Lou Reed's bassist/producer Fernando Saunders and eclectic jazz producer and percussionist Kip Hanrahan, both of whom hired him to record on their records. The fateful moment occurred when he and producer Michael Baker (The Blow Monkeys, Wet,Wet,Wet, Patty Griffin) just happened to be in the same upper East Side elevator. The two struck up a conversation and Baker ended going up to Hugh's manager's apartment to hear some songs. Amazed at what he was hearing, Baker asked Hugh to play the piano and sing live right there in the apartment. He later told his girlfriend "I've just found the next Buddy Holly".
The affiliation with Baker resulted in RCA signing Hugh to a record contract in 1987. RCA President Bob Buziak recalled "Grayson was one of the only artists we signed largely as a result of a live impromptu performance on a piano right in my office!" Hugh's debut album "Blind To Reason", released on RCA n 1988, spawned several international hits, including "Talk It Over", "Bring It All Back" and "How Bout Us", and eventually went Gold both overseas and in the U.S. Hugh has been wowing audiences and gathering loyal fans around the world ever since with his masterful piano playing, his poetic lyrics and his soulful singing. "Blind To Reason" went Gold in the U.S. & overseas and his follow-up release "Road To Freedom" was called one of the year's best albums by Billboard Magazine.
"Road To Freedom" also caught the attention of Hollywood. Director Ridley Scott heard an advance pressing and requested the use of two of Hugh's songs for the 1991 film "Thelma and Louise". Director Jon Avnet asked Hugh to record Bob Dylan's "I'll Remember You" for the ending of another hit film - "Fried Green Tomatoes". Using Eric Clapton's touring band, who just happened to be passing through the studio, Hugh dipped back into his experience as a pianist in a black gospel church as a youth, and arranged and recorded “a gospel-style assault of the song that could raise the dead" (Peanuts, The Cleveland Sun, Dec. 3, 1992).
His songs have been called "a soul/rock stew with a dash of blues and a pinch of country" (Stone Phillips, The Today Show) and his voice has been compared to soul legends Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. His piano playing has been called "a veritable cyclone of soul, drawing its energy from such diverse regions as the swampland funk of Professor Longhair, the testifying soul of Ray Charles, with the rhythms of African drumming and American bluegrass thrown in the mix." - Benny Metten, Ctrl. Alt. Country, August, 2010.
In 2006, Hugh was living on Cape Cod and just beginning to work on what would become "An American Record". In the process of putting together a band to record it, Hugh re-connected with his old friend singer Polly Messer. Polly had sung backup vocals with Grayson in the early 80's, after leaving the well-known Connecticut swing band Eight To The Bar. One harmony led to another, and Grayson and Polly ended up not only co-producing the album but getting married in 2008. Since then they have been performing Hugh's music together, both in the U.S. and in Europe.
The release of "An American Record" in 2010 was met with praise from music critics and Hugh's loyal fans, who had been waiting over fifteen years for some new music. Pulitzer Prize-winning Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. was moved to write: "In a world where music is often a brittle artificiality, the music he makes is hard and strong, convicted and convincing. And true. Most of all, true. It's there in the gritty lament of his voice, in the roughhouse eloquence of his piano, and the atmospheric poetry of his words. He has that thing Sam Cooke and Ray Charles had, that thing you still hear sometimes in Bruce Springsteen, that lonely, train whistle in the dark thing, that yearning, keening thing that gets right to the heart of what it means to be alive, what it means to be a human being. This is 'An American Record'. Some of us are glad the wait is over at last." - Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald, March 8, 2010
Currently Hugh is writing songs for his next record, which is scheduled for a release sometime in 2014.