Gregg’s recordings evoke an era of elegance and style, a time when the music was performed with phrasing that emphasized the storytelling behind these songs. The Great American Songbook is a collection of music, which was written for singers with technique – power doesn’t suit these tunes, they require nuance, which Gregg Arthur delivers in spades.
Gregg is a true Renaissance man. He is an accomplished songwriter, creating both music and lyrics, a landscape and portrait painter, and actor. He grew up both in Sydney and on a cattle property on the McIntyre River an hour out of Inverell. Isolation on the farm was no problem for the young Gregg. In between working on the farm and painting landscapes, he immersed himself in his father’s extensive record collection, which included all the classic albums of Frank Sinatra, Nat ‘King’ Cole, Oscar Peterson, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Mel Tormé, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald. Gregg’s singing teacher in Sydney, Don Grayden, always said: “I don’t teach singing. I teach psychology.” He helped Gregg understand the importance of breathing techniques and the story behind a lyric. Don also told him; “If you want to be a great singer, you have to learn how to act”, which led to drama school and some roles in TV and film as well as some musicals, but singing the Great American Songbook has always been his first passion.
Gregg soon made his way to the United States and even with his matinee-idol looks and personable manner, he soon discovered that the way into the world’s toughest music scene also required confidence and tenacity. But while his reputation as a singer of rare ability grew steadily, these impromptu gigs with the legends of American music weren’t necessarily lucrative, and European options weren’t much better. At one point, finding himself penniless in Paris, he slept for three nights in the Gare du Nord, protected from being moved on by the vagrancy police only through his trademark tailored suit and repeated protestations that his train was delayed.
There are only a handful of singers of Gregg’s ability and style in today’s music scene who are able to perform songs from the Great American Songbook as they were meant to be performed – Tony Bennett, for example, is one of the last of his generation who made this art form great and can still deliver them beautifully to enthusiastic audiences. There are very few who are able to perform this genre in its original context, with rich, lush arrangements and gentle, loving vocalizations feeling every word and motion of the song, yet in a new and original way. Honing his craft over the years, Gregg has travelled the world performing for enthusiastic audiences of his own, most recently in Las Vegas, where celebrities and Great American Songbook aficionados have embraced him and his unique interpretation of this beloved musical art form, and he has had the pleasure of working with some of the great players of the genre.