Shadows – Songs of Nat King Cole, has been an idea brewing in Hugh’s mind for a few years. Cole was one of the Jazz artists that Hugh’s mother often played in the family home and his music became part of the soundtrack of Hugh’s formative years before his mother’s untimely death when he was 7 years old.
After having released and toured two self penned albums distinctly pop on Universal records, Hugh toured and recorded with Belgian/Italian Jazz pianist and producer Eric Legnini. This experience gave him the confidence to finally approach Nat King Cole’s repertoire.
The idea behind the album was born of Hugh’s intention to shed light upon the darker part of Cole’s life. That of a black musician, active at a time when segregation and racism were rife. Hugh’s idea was to reveal these “Shadows”, rarely if ever evident in Cole’s work. The choice of songs, production and Hugh’s vocal performances on Shadows, rooted in his passion for the Blues, give an undertone of tension, even unease. Notwithstanding Hugh’s original idea, when he came to record the closing title for the album, Morning Star, an ode to a mother’s love, it became clear to him that this project was in fact, much closer to home.
Shadows… is Hugh paying homage to his mother, through the work of Nat King Cole.
Hugh joined his first band, the Hoax at 19.They were lauded by the British press (Q, Mojo, The Telegraph) for their debut album, played T.V. sessions on BBC’s “Later with Jools Holland” and VH1. The Hoax toured, ferociously, clocking up nearly 1000 gigs in Europe, the U.S. and Canada (including supports with B.B. King and Buddy Guy among others) during their seven year existence. However, after 4 albums and seven years touring and recording, Hugh left The Hoax.
Hugh moved to Paris directly after the end of the Hoax to embrace the unknown. From playing sold out venues in 1999, Hugh threw himself into busking and open mic nights two months later. He was soon noticed by French songwriter/rapper, Spleen (Coco-Rosie, Devendra Benhart) and started the group Heez bus, which gained a formidable live reputation and major label interest before Spleen left for his own project. Hugh had been writing all this time and decided that he wanted to finally go it solo.
“Stories from the safe house” was released in October 2008 on Universal, to great acclaim in French music press (Inrockuptibles, Rolling Stone etc..). Hugh started touring again, clocking up more than 120 shows and T.V. appearances, including a sold out concert at La Cigale, in Paris.
During this touring schedule, Hugh always was writing. Dictaphone, mobile phone, anything to capture an idea. He returned to family life (Hugh became a father for the first time during the “Stories..” tour) and started putting together the pieces that would turn into the next solo album Zero Killed, released in October 2011. While being more richly arranged, the album still hangs around Hugh’s greatest love : Melody.