Songs & Music Available For Licensing

Grayson Hugh

The licensing of singer-songwriter Grayson Hugh's songs is handled exclusively through Future Hits (dba Axe & Gavel, LLC) and Spirit Music Group. For inquiries contact Andy Gundell. Email: andy@futurehits or Grayson Hugh. Email: grayson@graysonhugh.net

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Back to the Soul

Grayson Hugh

Acclaimed blue-eyed soul legend Grayson Hugh returns to his southern soul roots with this exciting album of 12 new songs. This record was up for a Grammy nomination in the 2015 Best Americana Album category.

(Excerpt from a review on iTunes by Leonard Pitts, Jr., Miami Herald journalist and author, winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary)

"In 2010, an ambitious 14-song set called "An American Record" heralded the return of Grayson Hugh. And now, five years later, comes "Back To The Soul".

"Back To The Soul" is about going through it all, surviving through it all, gathering the skeins of a sometimes-difficult life – the alienation, the loneliness, the brokenness – and weaving them into a song of redemption, a redemption that comes, not despite those things, but because of them.

Grayson sings this explicitly in "Thank You Lord", a stark ballad that sits at the emotional center of the album. It is a searingly-intimate letter to God, a meditation on those lost years, on their blind alleys and degradations and on the amazing grace by which he was delivered and redeemed. “I needed every stumble, drink and failure, every one,” he sings, to deliver him to this blessed new place in his life, to make him the man he has become.

It’s a theme Grayson returns to in "Already In Love With You", a smoldering ballad. “Now, when I look back it all seems so clear,” he sings. “I took every step I needed to get me to here. If I had known what this journey would cost I might just have stayed home never knowing what I had lost. I would have missed out on a miracle.”

None of which is to suggest that "Back To The Soul" is an album of somber pieties. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is the music of a man who’s come through the fire and wants to dance about it.

"We Were Havin’ Fun" is a light-hearted paean to young love, young music and those good old days when “Summer was a feelin’ and there was sunshine all around” fitted me with an Afro I haven’t worn in 40 years, and put me back behind the wheel of that raggedy Pontiac I junked in 1978, going to pick up my baby, with the Commodores blaring on the AM radio. In other words, it took me back. It made me feel good.

The title song and "It’s Got Soul" are cut from similar cloth, affectionate, up-beat homages to the truth, rhythm (and, okay, blues) of that foundational American music. "Back To The Soul" even name checks some of the greatest soul men of the last half century.

Among the other highlights: "We’re Gone Again", a slow-burn of irresistible sexual attraction; "Everybody’s Hangin’ On", which recalls Marvin Gaye’s immortal "What’s Goin’ On", both in the way it opens with a party and, more substantively, in its gentle insistence upon our shared humanity upon a shared planet; "Motorcycle Ridin’", a barroom blues fable about two-wheeled escape down endless highways, the ride more important than the destination.

And don’t miss "Gettin’ On With My Life" - an anthem of a different kind of escape – of the conscious decision to leave behind a stuck place and embrace the promise and the uncertainty of a fresh dawn.

“I’m gettin’ on with my life,” sings Grayson, “now a new day is here. I’m gonna give up my excuses, all my sorrows, sadness and my fear.”

Which feels like a pretty fair summation of the album and, perhaps, of the man who made it.

This is music of and for people who know what it is to be scarred and scared, who have been knocked down hard a time or two and had to find their way back to their feet. It is music of and for people who can appreciate a good horn section or bass groove, who know how to slide on the grease that oozes when the organ hits a lick just right, who are suckers for a rough-sweet voice singing the truth.

Finally, this is music of and for those who have a little life behind them – and a whole lot more ahead. It is both realization and reminder that, for all the changes that life takes you through, if you hang with it and fight through it, it will eventually, inevitably, round the corner and bring you back.

Back to self. Back to joy. Back to love. Back to, well…you know."

  • Leonard Pitts, Jr., August 1, 2015
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An American Record

Grayson Hugh

Here is the long awaited comeback release from critically acclaimed singer/songwriter and blue-eyed soul legend Grayson Hugh. In the words of one writer: "Grayson Hugh has been there and is back again. His story - our story - has to be heard."

Here is the long-awaited new release from critically-acclaimed singer/songwriter Grayson Hugh. Bursting on the scene in 1988 with his debut RCA album "Blind To Reason", Hugh wowed listeners and concert audiences around the world with his soulful voice, poetic lyrics and masterful piano and Hammond B3 playing. "Bind To Reason" garnered several international radio hits including "Talk It Over", "Bring It All Back" and "How Bout Us". The album went gold in the U.S. and Australia. His follow-up release "Road To Freedom" (MCA 1992) was named one of the year's top-ten albums by Billboard Magazine. Pulitzer prize-winning Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. called Hugh one of the most exciting newcomers in the last decade.

Now, after more than fifteen years' silence, we have "An American Record" by Grayson Hugh - a collection of new songs and stories from this important American artist. In the words of one writer: "Grayson Hugh has been there and is back again. His story - our story - has to be heard."

Here is an excerpt from a review in CMAWorld by Bob Doerschuk:

"Hugh's path has led him to the summit as a musician, performer and writer; his multifaceted talents manifested in formats as varied as soul, jazz, Western swing, study with piano legends Ran Blake and Jaki Byard, a gig playing piano in an African-American church as well as accompaniment and composition for modern dance.

All of these elements and more came together in his own unique sound when Hugh burst onto the scene with Blind to Reason, his major-label debut in 1988. The album impacted, lofting the single “Talk It Over” into the Top 20 and featuring a duet with R&B star Betty Wright on “How ‘Bout Us.” Billboard would laud his second album, Road to Freedom, as one of the ten best of 1992; his songs were featured on soundtracks for Fried Green Tomatoes and Thelma & Louise.

Then, in 1994, after being dropped by his label in a moment of misguided restructuring, Hugh suddenly found himself without the financial support necessary to keep a band on the road.  He moved to rural North Carolina and attempted to rejuvenate his career in surroundings far-removed from New York and Los Angeles.  After a year of slowly going broke and unable to find a new record label, he moved back north where he landed a job teaching songwriting at Berklee College Of Music in Boston.  While there, he continued to write songs prolifically and was even commissioned to compose some scores for several modern dance companies. But in 2001, he spun into a free-fall and a near-fatal relapse with alcohol and drugs that landed him in a sober house on Cape Cod for three years.

Hugh's rise from that point to his present renaissance owes to two factors: his determination to apply everything he has experienced, the worst as well as the best, to redefining and strengthening himself as an artist, and the invaluable help of his wife, backup singer and soul mate Polly Messer, who met him in 1980 but would enter his life years later as his best friend, greatest inspiration and true artistic partner.

From the worst of his times, Hugh emerged with a strength and focus that filters now into his work.

Hugh's recent personal and artistic achievements inform every track on his new album, An American Record. This overlay of art and heart breathes a gospel air into the irresistibly churchy “Tell Me How You Feel,” paints a stark yet beckoning landscape on "North Ohio", cranks up the funk in the cocky, horn-stabbed strut and haunting chanted coda of “Swamp Yankee,” hangs a lover’s plea over an elegant and unforgettable chorus hook on “Give Me One Good Reason” … Every track tells its story with a mix of passion, craft and impact that’s rare in our time. In flaunting the discipline and knack for accessibility that distinguished his earlier recordings and compositions, "An American Record" confirms his return as a commercial as well as artistic force."

-Bob Doerschuk, CMAworld.com, April 21, 2010

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Road to Freedom

Grayson Hugh

For his second major label album, singer/songwriter Grayson Hugh added a tight, hard-rocking four piece band to compliment his soulful voice and virtuoso piano and Hammond B3 playing, creating a critically acclaimed soul/rock/country record.

Grayson Hugh's second major label album "Road To Freedom" received international critical acclaim.

Billboard Magazine called it one of 1992's top ten albums.

Chicago Tribune music critic Dan Kening gave it five stars, saying: "As impressive as Grayson Hugh's 1989 debut album "Blind To Reason" was, "Road To Freedom" represents a quantum leap beyond it. While Hugh's blue-eyed soul vocals and affinity for gospel-style Hammond organ remain, his music adds a welcome infusion of rock 'n roll punch. "Hideaway", "Forever Yours, Forever Mine" and "When She Comes Walking" bristle with radio-friendly hooks, while Hugh's Rod Stewart-meets-Sam-Cooke vocals on "I Can't Untie You From Me" and the ballad "Walking Through The Fire" are sublime."

Director Ridley Scott heard an advance pressing and requested the use of two of Hugh's songs for his film "Thelma & Louise".

Stone Phillips of The Today Show called the album "a soul/rock stew with a dash of blues and a pinch of country".

In recording "Road To Freedom" at the legendary Power Station in New York, Grayson and producer Bernard Edwards assembled a tight, four piece band to record this album, which also featured a dose of roots country elements, such as mandolin, dobro and baritone guitar.

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Blind to Reason

Grayson Hugh

This smash hit debut album by Grayson Hugh, featuring his soulful singing, poetic lyrics and masterful piano and Hammond B3 organ playing, quickly earned him the name "King Of Blue-Eyed Soul".

Grayson Hugh burst on the scene in 1988 with his RCA debut album "Blind To Reason". The record went Gold in the U.S. and overseas and garnered several global radio hits including "Talk It Over", "Bring It All Back" and "Tears Of Love". The videos made for these songs were also in heavy rotation at MTV, VH1 and BET. With his influences in 60's soul, funk and jazz, and his experience playing the piano in a black gospel church as a teenager, Hugh toured for several years in support of this record, bringing his high-energy live show to music halls and nightclubs around the world such as Tipitina's in New Orleans, The Apollo Theater in Harlem, The Hammersmith Odeon in London and The Ace Of Clubs in Nashville. With his soulful voice, virtuoso keyboard playing and poetic lyrics about love and life, Grayson Hugh was soon singled out by music critics as a singer/songwriter of real importance. Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr., writing for Musician Magazine in November 1989, said: " Irony fans, please note: The soul man is a dinosaur in decline, right? Al Green went and got religion, Dennis Edwards is in exile from The Temptations again and, let's face it, Luther Vandross is way too cool to sweat. So who's left to save the genre? Some down-and-dirty black powerhouse who grew up in a suburb of Hell, singing in the local church? Not quite. He's a white guy from a suburb of Hartford, Connecticut. And the first time he was ever in a black church and saw somebody whip out a tambourine, he jumped a mile. Meet Grayson Hugh and the music he likes to call 'poetry with an attitude'. Of the currently active soul men, he is, arguably, the best in class."

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