Veteran songwriter, keyboardist and singer Grayson Hugh was a guest on the Aug. 22 edition of Greasy Tracks where he discussed his just-released CD Back To The Soul (Swamp Yankee Music).
Click here to listen to the interview.
Hugh’s latest effort features 12 tracks steeped in southern soul stylings, replete with warm horn arrangements and sterling backing vocal support from his wife, former Eight To The Bar singer Polly Messer.
His fifth solo work and first since 2010’s An American Record (Swamp Yankee Music), marks a return to Hugh’s roots and more importantly, a continuing triumph over a dark period of his personal and professional life which literally sidelined him for a portion of the early 2000s.
A native of West Hartford, Hugh made his recording debut in 1980 with his self-titled release. His follow-up (Blind to Reason) after he signed to RCA in 1988, featured three singles that reached Billboard’s Hot 100 with one of them, “Talk It Over” making the Top 20.
The momentum of success continued in 1991 as he landed two tracks (“I Can’t Untie You From Me” and “Don’t Look Back”) in the blockbuster film Thelma & Louise, while his 1992 release, Road To Freedom (MCA) was tabbed as one of the top 10 releases of the year by Billboard. A track from that CD, a cover of Bob Dylan’s “I’ll Remember You,” was included on the Fried Green Tomatoes soundtrack.
Hugh cites such legendary vocalists as Marvin Gaye, Elvis Presley and Otis Redding as influences. A lifelong pianist, he got turned onto rhythm and blues thanks to ones of his earliest record purchases: Ray Charles’ brilliant 1962 release What’d I Say — featuring the famed electric piano on the title track — which captivated Hugh who would not only memorize it, but soon get hooked on playing the Hammond B3 organ after hearing Booker T and the MGs.