Peabo Bryson began his career at the age of 14 as a backup singer for Al Freeman and the Upsetters. A couple of years later, he went on tour with Moses Dillard and the Tex-Town Display, and was with them when they auditioned for Atlanta’s Bang Records. The band didn’t make the grade, but the young backup singer at the back did, resulting in Bang offering Bryson a contract as a writer, producer, and arranger. In 1976, he released his debut album, Peabo. He’s continued to enjoy success ever since, picking up several number one hits and two Grammy awards. Here’s our pick of the 10 best Peabo Bryson songs of all time.
10. Let the Feeling Flow
In at number 10 on our list of the 10 best Peabo Bryson songs of all time is Let the Feeling Flow. Released as the lead single from Bryson’s seventh studio album, it became one of the singer’s highest-charting entries on the pop charts, reaching number 42 on Billboards Top Pop Singles. It was also a hit on Billboard’s Hot Black Singles chart, reaching number 6.
9. Minute by Minute
Minute by Minute was originally a hit for the Doobie Brothers, who earned a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year with it in 1978 (it lost out, coincidentally to another of their songs, What a Fool Believes). Numerous artists have tackled it since, including Helen Reddy, Phish, Stanley Clarke, and, in 1980, Peabo Bryson, who earned a top 20 R&B hit after releasing the song as a single from the album, Paradise.
8. What You Won’t Do for Love
What You Won’t Do for Love was originally recorded by Bobby Caldwell for his 1978 eponymous debut album. It became a massive hit, reaching the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100, the Hot Selling Soul Singles chart, and the Easy Listening chart, and quickly becoming Caldwell’s signature song. It’s been covered by multiple artists since, including Boyz II Men, Michael Bolton, and Jesse Ware. For his version, Bryson teamed up with Natalie Cole, earning a top 20 hit on the R&B chart in the process.
7. Show and Tell
Johnny Mathis earned a top 40 easy listening hit in 1972 with his version of Jerry Fuller’s Show and Tell. A year later, Al Wilson took it to the top of the Billboard Hot 100; in 1989, Bryson did the same on the R&B chart with his soulful version.
6. By the Time This Night Is Over
In 1993, Bryson teamed up with hitmaker Kenny G for By the Time This Night Is Over. Both artists thought highly enough of the collaboration to make a place for it on their albums, with Kenny G including it on 1993’s Breathless and Bryson revisiting it the following year on Through the Fire. Released as a single in the summer of 1993, it took the duo to number one on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart and number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100.
5. Can You Stop the Rain
In 1991, Bryson released his fifteenth studio album, Can You Stop the Rain. It’s littered with gorgeous ballads, with the title track standing out as one of the loveliest. Released as the album’s lead single, it topped the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and reached number 11 and number 52 on the Adult Contemporary chart and Billboard Hot 100 respectively.
4. Beauty and the Beast (feat. Celine Dion)
Bryson collaborated with Disney on two separate occasions, both times to great success. The first time was on Beauty and the Beast, which found the singer teaming up with a then-unknown Celine Dion. Described by Fuse as “a fantastic duet” and by the Chicago Tribune as “resonant and multiflavored,” the song became a major success, reaching the top ten in the US, UK, Canada, and New Zealand and picking up the Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals.
3. If Ever You’re In My Arms Again
Bryson’s 1984 album Straight from the Heart is a triumph, featuring a hugely enjoyable mix of uptempo dance floor fillers and late-night, seductive jams. One of its chief highlights is If Ever You’re In My Arms Again, a song All Music describes as “the definitive Bryson ballad.” Released as a single in May 1984, it spent four weeks at the top of the US adult contemporary chart and became the singer’s first entry on the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100.
2. A Whole New World (feat. Regina Belle)
Disney had originally wanted Barbra Streisand and George Michael to sing A Whole New World from the 1992 animation Aladdin, but as Song Facts explains, Tim Rice, who wrote the song along with Alan Menken, wanted the song to become a hit on its own merit, not the star power of its vocalists. When both Streisand and Michael turned it down, Rice got his way, with Bryson and Regina Belle stepping up to the plate and delivering an astonishing performance that ultimately led to an Oscar for Best Song From A Motion Picture and a Grammy Award for Song Of The Year.
1. Tonight, I Celebrate My Love (feat. Roberta Flack)
In at number one on our list of the 10 best Peabo Bryson songs of all time is the enduringly lovely Tonight, I Celebrate My Love. Bryson and Roberta Flack had already teamed up on several occasions by the time they came to record the song (most notably on their joint double album, Live & More, from 1980), but Tonight, I Celebrate My Love became their most successful collaboration by a clean mile, soaring to number 2 on the UK Singles Chart and number 16 on the US Billboard Hot 100. It also broke into the top ten in Canada, Australia, Ireland, Norway, and South Africa. To date, it’s sold over 1 million albums worldwide.