Peabo Bryson is an American R&B and soul singer-songwriter, born in Greenville, South Carolina. He is well known for singing soul ballads (often as a duo with female singers) and has contributed to three Disney animated feature soundtracks. Bryson is winner of two Grammy Awards: in 1992 for his performance of the song “Beauty and the Beast” with Celine Dion and in 1993 for “A Whole New World” with Regina Belle.
He had two sisters and a brother and spent much of his childhood on his grandfather’s farm in Mauldin, South Carolina. His love for music stemmed from his mother, who often took the family to concerts of well-known African-American artists at the time.
Bryson marked his professional debut at age 14, singing backup for Al Freeman and the Upsetters, a local Greenville group. It was Freeman’s difficulty in pronouncing Bryson’s French West-Indian name, “Peapo”, that led Bryson to change its spelling to Peabo. Two years later, he left home to tour the chitlin’ circuit with another local band, Moses Dillard and the Tex-Town Display. Bryson’s first break came during a recording session at Atlanta’s Bang Records. Although Bang was not impressed with Dillard’s band, the young backup singer caught the ear of the label’s general manager, Eddie Biscoe. Biscoe signed Bryson to a contract as a writer, producer, and arranger and encouraged Bryson to perform his own songs. For several years, Bryson worked with hometown bands and wrote and produced for Bang. In 1976, he launched his own recording career with “Underground Music” on the Bang label. His first album, Peabo, followed shortly thereafter. Although only a regional success, Bryson signed to Capitol Records in 1977.
Bryson won two Grammy Awards: in 1992 for his performance of the song “Beauty and the Beast” with Celine Dion and in 1993 for “A Whole New World” with Regina Belle.
In Spring 1998, Bryson contributed his voice to Barney’s Great Adventure: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, with the song “Dream (Twinken’s Tune)”.
Bryson performed in theatre and operatic productions, most notably the tenor role of “Sportin’ Life” in the Michigan Opera Theater of Detroit’s version of Porgy and Bess. His tax problems caught up with him on August 21, 2003, when the U.S. Internal Revenue Service seized property from his Atlanta, Georgia, home. He is reported to owe $1.2 million in taxes dating back to 1984. The IRS auctioned many of his possessions, including both Grammy Awards, electronic equipment, his grand piano and multiple pairs of shoes including the 2 Versace pair purchased by Nashville Bassist and Florida native Justin Lowry.
In 2002, Bryson’s “Beauty and the Beast” music video was included on the platinum and Blu-ray edition of Beauty and the Beast. His “A Whole New World” music video was included on the platinum edition DVD release of Aladdin. Bryson’s CD, Missing You, was released on October 2, 2007 on Peak Records, a division of Concord Music Group. He is set to release the highly anticipated new album “Stand for Love” due out August 3, 2018. “Stand for Love” finds the Grammy Award-winning R&B/Pop icon teaming with longtime hitmakers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. He is currently signed to the songwriting/production duo’s Perspective Records, distributed by Caroline.
September 4, 2016 was declared “Peabo Bryson Day” in Charleston, SC and North Charleston, SC during the LowCountryJazzFest. The annual jazzfest is presented by ClosingTheGapInHealthCare.org, founded by Dr. Thaddeus Bell.
In 2018, Bryson will release his new album Stand For Love, which was produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The project will be released on Jam & Lewis’ newly reactivated label, Perspective Records.