Soul legend Grayson Hugh takes the stage at the Port Hardy Civic Centre Friday

Soul legend Grayson Hugh takes the stage at the Port Hardy Civic Centre Friday

Soul legend brings personal touch to Hardy

Soul legend Grayson Hugh made his first stop at Port Hardy’s Civic Centre Friday evening.

Elena Rardon

Gazette staff

PORT HARDY—Christine Hunt never imagined that an online purchase would lead to an international friendship with her favourite singer.

But blue-eyed soul legend Grayson Hugh, whose hits have been featured in films including “Fried Green Tomatoes” and “Thelma and Louise,” made his first stop at Port Hardy’s Civic Centre Friday evening following an invitation from Hunt.

A long-time fan of Hugh, Hunt discovered his official website and attempted to make a purchase. When her postal code was not accepted on the online order form, she wrote an email. The email she received in answer was from the singer himself.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said Friday, “that he himself would answer me!”

The two wrote back and forth and quickly became online friends and pen pals. Hugh mentioned that he had never visited the North Island before and Hunt invited him to a feast.

“Then I thought, ‘why don’t we do a concert while you’re here?’” said Hunt. “And he agreed.”

The show opened Friday with Hunt’s husband, Alan Moberg, a talented musician in his own right. Moberg entertained the audience with stories about growing up and fishing on the Sunshine Coast. While his repertoire featured folk, country, and gospel music, the real surprise of the night was his yodelling, which received uproarious enthusiasm from the crowd.

Hugh took the stage afterward accompanied by wife and backup singer, Polly Messer.

“This is one beautiful part of the world,” he said as he took the stage. “I looked outside this morning, saw the mountains and salmon jumping, and thought, ‘I want to live here!’”

Hugh played a mix of classics and hits, as well as songs from his newest album, An American Record. He described the new album’s sound as a “criss-cross” of different genres.

“It’s all the music I’ve loved all my life,” he said.

Like Moberg’s set, Hugh’s music emphasized finding a sense of place in songs like “Road to Freedom” and “Lost Avenue.” Other pieces harkened back to his grandfather’s experience growing up in Wales and England.

He dedicated the song, “What It’s All About” to Hunt as a thank you for putting together the event, before closing with his hit “I’ll Remember You” and an energetic cover of the Beatles’ “Drive My Car.”

Friday’s event also featured a concession put on by the Quatsino Band, featuring fry bread and chili, with all proceeds going towards the girl’s baseball team.