Rolling Stone magazine recently characterized LeRoy Hutson as "the best-kept secret of Seventies soul". Throughout his long and illustrious career he has graced us with a body of rich musical work: a treasure trove of sophisticated soul, mellifluous melodies and insightful lyrical poetry. All one has to do is go back and take a listen to songs like the incomparable "Lucky Fellow" or the messages contained in the tone poem "I Can’t Stay Away." recall and reflect the romantic and sensual sensibilities of songs like "In The Mood" and "Love To Hold You Close" and you the listener will be whisked away to witness the full degree of an individual full of undeniable talent and musical passion.
An accomplished keyboardist and arranger, Hutson has a soulful tenor voice that is both pure and crystal clear. His love for rhythmic underpinnings and plush orchestral strings are more than apparent, taking us all back to a time when music was oh so lush and so real!
A native of Newark, New Jersey, two of Lee’s closest confidantes were singer-songwriters Curtis Mayfield and the incomparable Donny Hathaway. He met both gentlemen while a student at Washington’s D.C.’s prestigious Howard University, a period of time for Hutson that would be a turning point in his life both socially and professionally. On campus at any given time one could find Roberta Flack, Herbie Hancock, Donnie Hathaway, saxophonist Tyrone Washington, Phylicia Rashad, Debbie Allen or any number of talented musicians and artists.
"My decision to go away to college turned out to be the single most important thing I have ever done in my life," reflects Hutson. "It colored everything else that’s happened to me from that day to this. Initially, I didn’t enter college with music in mind. I originally wanted to become a dentist, but made the decision to change my major, and eventually received a special talent scholarship to enroll in the School of Music. "College was a most incredible time and a most incredible experience."
It was during this collegiate experience that Hutson and Hathaway, who were roommates for a while, co-wrote the socio-political musical gem titled "The Ghetto." The song went on to become a signature hit for Hathaway and continues to be in recurrent rotation on radio stations around the world.
In the seventies, an opportunity of a lifetime occurred when Hathaway recommended that Hutson replace Curtis Mayfield who happened to be leaving the renowned vocal group The Impressions. Lee was no stranger to being in singing groups since he was a member of the four-man vocal group the Nu-Tones while a teen in Newark, one-half of a duo called Sugar & Spice, and along with Donny Hathaway a member of The Mayfield Singers—a group put together on the Howard campus by Curtis Mayfield.
"I used to listen to the Impressions with awe like everyone else during that period. Their harmonies were just so unique. I was always fascinated with great harmonies, and the idea that I would be taking Curtis’ place was overwhelming. It wasn’t like I was fearful or anything, but I looked at it as a wonderful opportunity."
Hutson left the Impressions in September 1973, but continued to record for Curtis’ Curtom Records label. He released some seven memorable albums. Among them were the seminal "Hutson" album (which featured the aforementioned "Lucky Fellow," "Cool Out" and "All Because of You") and the critically-acclaimed debut "Love Oh Love" album (featuring the hit track “So In Love with You."). Hutson also charted with his albums "Hutson II," "Feel The Spirit," "Closer to the Source," "Unforgettable" and a number of Best of Collections that have been re-released and re-packaged over time.
Upon leaving Curtom, Hutson released another album titled "Paradise" while signed to industry veteran Dick Griffey during a short stint at Elektra Records. But when asked his favorite of all the albums he’s recorded, Hutson ironically states, that he really hasn’t recorded it yet. In the running though, is his forthcoming CD tentatively titled "2Nites The Night", through his own independent label, Triumph Records. "I’ve been working on this album for the last two years," the musician states, "and I’m really excited about it. It is uniquely me. I’m incorporating some new sounds, some sampling and utilizing a lot of the new technology that allows me to play much of the music myself without having to have other musicians interpret what I hear in my head."
In support of the new album, Hutson is prepping for a Worldwide tour, where he will be playing in such places as Hamburg, Amsterdam, the UK, and more, but U.S. fans and people the world over continue to support and discover his music. "I feel very fortunate to have friends and fans all over the world, he says. But I’m starting this tour overseas because that’s where a great deal of my audience is."
Another on-going career benchmark for Hutson is that many of today’s hip-hop artists are constantly sampling his music. . One of the most prominent samples recently came through rapper T.I.’s Top Ten record "What You Know About That," taken from the song “Gone Away," written by Hutson and Donny Hathaway, on a tune they composed for Roberta Flack. The T.I. 2006-released CD has sold more than 1.5 million copies in the U.S. alone.
Other artists who have sampled Hutson’s work are Too Short (who scored a Top Ten R&B/Rap hit with "The Ghetto"), Erykah Badu , Paul Wall, Snoop Dogg, Memphis Bleek, Bone, Thugs N Harmony and the list goes on.
Throughout his prolific career, LeRoy Hutson has rewritten the rules as to what the consummate artist can and should be. He continues his legacy with "Soothe You - Groove You" and upcoming album "2Nites The Night". With a sound that is an unwavering beacon of truly passionate soul, and songs that are both profound and personal, Hutson has made his mark on musical history and continues to represent all that is grand and classic in the soul and smooth jazz traditions.