Gregory Abbott’s roots stem from Venezuela, his mother’s homeland, and the island of Antigua, his father’s homeland; making him a dual citizen of the small tropical island and the U.S., where he was born.
His career as an award-winning singer, composer, producer, and musician began in New York City. While in New York City, his mother taught him to play piano and encouraged him to develop his vocal talents. At the age of eight, he sang in the famed St. Patrick’s Cathedral Choir, with whom he recorded an album as well as performing on television. In his college years, he majored in psychology, minored in music and dramatic arts, in which he attained a master’s degree. While pursuing undergraduate and graduate studies at Boston University, Berkeley, and Stanford, he helped pay his tuition by creating a band and playing locally. It was here he developed his own personal musical style. Eventually, Abbott taught English at Berkeley, while maintaining his love and appreciation of music.
He eventually decided to become a professional musician, build a studio, and apply his academic discipline to developing skills as a singer/songwriter, guitarist, composer, producer, keyboard player, and drummer. One of his first endeavors was an album for an independent label, which included Abbott performing a duet with Whitney Houston along with her mother, Cissy Houston, singing background vocals. He then produced a group on Atlantic Records by the name of EQ with famed chairman Ahmet Ertegun. Shortly after, he released the single and album Shake You Down, shaking up the music industry with countless honors and awards. The platinum single became the fastest song in the history of BMI to reach one million airplays, and won BMI’s Pop Song of the Year award as the most performed song.
Abbott’s music has crossed every barrier imaginable. He is noted for coining the term “groove ballad,” to describe his signature style, and when referring to him, music writers and critics alike have affectionately used the term “Wall Street soul.” He is a favorite with the ladies for his sophisticated demeanor and intelligent green eyes. The soulful strength and intensity is what Abbott projects in his music and what people love. “Shake You Down” went to number one on the Billboard pop, R&B, adult contemporary, and dance singles charts, and was the number three Pop Song of the Year in the magazine’s year-end review. The seemingly endless list of awards continues. Gregory Abbott won two Soul Train music awards for Best Male Singer and Best New Artist. He was the star of the New York Music Awards, receiving four honors: Best R&B Album, Best Debut Album, Best R&B Vocalist, and the Rising Star Award. He walked away with two awards at Dick Clark’s Black Gold ceremonies, another honor from the R&B Awards in Las Vegas, a N.Y. Image award, and two awards from the annual CEBA Awards dinner (Communications Excellence Aimed at Black Audiences).
His striking good looks made him a favorite of fashion photographers, and he appeared in numerous magazine layouts, including a six-page fashion spread in Playboy, and a feature on the ten sexiest male recording artists in Playgirl. In fact, one of the more frequent observations by Abbott fans is the sophistication and style he carries off so well.
In Japan, he won first prize at the annual Tokyo Music Festival, and the Japanese were so impressed with his music that the title song of his second album, I’ll Prove It to You, was featured on a Japanese movie soundtrack. In Belgium, he performed in a video with Princess Stephanie of Monaco, and in Portugal he delighted fans by doing interviews in their native language. He also recorded a duet with one of Brazil’s most popular singers, Rosanna, and sang in both English and Portuguese; he also had the unique opportunity to travel to Russia for a songwriters’ summit, MSLTW (Music Speaks Louder Than Words). An album was released on Epic Records, using songs written there, by 20 top American and Russian songwriters. This was done to encourage communication and friendship between the two countries. Among the other songwriters present were Cyndi Lauper, Brenda Russell, Diane Warren, Barry Mann, Mike Stoller, and Michael Bolton. The song Abbott created while there was performed by Spanish pop star Emmanuel.
Abbott’s non-stop schedule continued at home in America where he recorded vocals for the Bill Cosby Show. His own Caribbean-influenced album One World!, which he said he recorded as a tribute to his parents, was internationally released. His soundtrack and television work has included White Lion; Hearts Afire; Evening Shade starring Burt Reynolds; Tap starring Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis, Jr., and Living Single starring Queen Latifah; among many others.
Abbott has always been highly noted for his songwriting abilities. “I started off as a songwriter, and I guess I’ll always be that first” he says. He has written for many artists including EQ, Rosanna, Emmanuel, Mona Lisa, Ronnie Spector, Freda Payne, and songstress Jennifer Warnes for her hit single “Rock You Gently.” Eyes, Whispers, Rhythm, Sex... appeared in 2000, offering a more groove-based sound than his previous efforts.