A journey across Australia... hauling a
half-tonne piano.
 
 

Grace met Hugh onstage in a packed, bush community hall. The encounter sparked an unforeseen creative collaboration uncovering stories, songs and friendships across the country. 

With a few more clicks around the clock than Grace, songwriter, performer, storyteller and filmmaker Hugh Scott Murray has played thousands of shows across Australia, the United States and Europe, racking up songwriting credits with INXS, Keith Urban, Bob Welch (Fleetwood Mac), Lou Rawls, and many others, between scoring a number of documentaries for ABC and BBC World. He is the founder and leader of ‘The Big Ol’ Bus Band’ which tours with up to fifteen musicians and dancers at any one time.

The creative format of writing songs inspired by true stories out on the road, then bringing them to life with unheralded musicians from the region, on camera, in a performance location of significance to the story, was first developed by Hugh 15 years ago. It forms the basis for the plot of the two year musical odyssey that has become the feature-length film Up Armidale Road. A troubadour in the truest sense, Hugh avoids the industry’s writing rooms by looking to the open road for inspiration, having a knack for storytelling and finding brilliant, unsung musicians in the unlikeliest of places. His longtime interest in digital graphics and animation also features throughout the film. 

Before pushing the piano, Grace Hickey was on the run from art school, where she had graduated with Honours in a Fine Arts degree, a sketchpad of drawings in one hand and a notebook of songs in the other. Encouraged to take up the violin as physical therapy for her cerebral palsy, at the age of 6 Grace sang her first tentative notes to appease her music tutor, Sister Anne of the Sisters of Mercy, while avoiding practicing her violin scales. Now older and only a little wiser, Grace feels compelled to make an ever-evolving life and career out of music and storytelling. With her exceptional voice the perfect foil for Hugh’s soulful piano playing and warm baritone, she’s woven both her visual art and music together - Grace’s paintings, stop-motion sequences and sketches feature throughout Up Armidale Road. 

Grace and Hugh share an interest in how Australia hears itself… and how the world hears Australia. In their travels they’ve encountered a rich vein of Australian music, untapped and largely unaccounted for in the charts. Hugh’s format has allowed the pair to get in amongst it, with ever-surprising results. 

Up Armidale Road is Grace and Hugh’s first feature-length film. Currently touring to bushfire-affected communities around Australia, the uplifting story of UAR is quickly garnering an enthusiastic following in regional areas now feeling the violent effects of the shifting climate- be they in drought, fire or flood.


The Album

Grace + Hugh recorded their first album together with a stellar band between Sydney and Nashville, featuring co-writes with Don Walker (Cold Chisel) and Bones Hillman (Midnight Oil). A festival act with infectious grooves and melodies to pluck at heartstrings, Grace’s voice is the perfect foil for Hugh’s soulful piano playing and warm baritone… their vocal chemistry is starting fires on stages across the country. 

The Series

Ten or so years ago Hugh set out to develop a format where artists are inspired by a true story and its characters to write a new song. On location the songs are then brought to life with the help of the talented, diverse musicians living in the region. 
 
Following on from Hugh taking his childhood piano out on the stock route with Kirk Pengilly of INXS, drover Vane Walker and his 1000 cattle and 40 regional brass musicians, Grace and Hugh have a number of song-stories on a roll.

Stay tuned for a unique, Australian, music-based documentary project soon to launch.