Grammy Award Winner Richard Leigh became well known to the VHCC community in the 1970s while enrolled in the Theatre Arts Program and has returned to campus often in the yearâ€™s since to share his award winning hits. He has consistently had hits over the course of his 40-year career and kicked off the 21st century with a top ten hit, â€œCold Day In Julyâ€, recorded by the Dixie Chicks. Most recently his good friend Billy Dean recorded an entire album of his songs for the â€œBilly Dean Sings Richard Leighâ€ CD released September 2009.
Richard has been writing songs since he was 10 years old and professionally since he was 23. He got his first break in 1976 when Crystal Gayle released â€œIâ€™ll Get Over You,â€and took it to #1 on Billboardâ€™s Country Chart. This was made all the sweeter when â€œIâ€™ll Get Over Youâ€ garnered Leigh his first of seven Song of the Year nominations, this one from the Country Music Association (CMA).
Two years later, Leigh was back at the CMAâ€™s, this time to take home the Song Of The Year award for â€œDonâ€™t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue,â€ which itself has had a phenomenal career: â€œDonâ€™t It Make My Brown Eyes Blueâ€ reached the #1 position on both Pop and Country charts and remained on the charts for more than six months; it was nominated for Grammy Awards in both the Pop and Country â€œBest Songâ€ categories (a feat not repeated until 1993); won a Grammy Award for â€œBest Country Songâ€; was a million selling single, and was named one of the ten most performed â€œCountry Songs Of The Centuryâ€ at the 1999 ASCAP Awards. In addition to his own three Grammy Nominations, five of Leighâ€™s songs have become vehicles to the Grammy Awards for other artists in the â€œBest Performanceâ€, â€œRecord Of The Yearâ€, and â€œVocal Eventâ€ categories.
To date, Richard has made 14 trips to the Top Ten and has written or co-written eight #1 singles: the hauntingly beautiful â€œSomewhere In My Broken Heartâ€ (written with Billy Dean), voted 1991 Song Of The Year by the Nashville Songwriterâ€™s Association (NSAI), and also by the Academy Of Country Music (ACM); â€œThe Greatest Man I Never Knewâ€ (written with Layng Martine, Jr.), nominated at the 1993 Grammy Awards for â€œBest Country Song); â€œCome From The Heartâ€ (written with Susanna Clark and recorded by Kathy Mattea); Don Williamâ€™s â€œThatâ€™s The Thing About Loveâ€ (written with Gary Nicholson); Steve Warinerâ€™s â€œLifeâ€™s Highwayâ€ (written with Roger Murrah); Mickey Gilleyâ€™s â€œPut Your Dreams Awayâ€ (written with Wayland Holyfield), and â€œIâ€™ll Get Over Youâ€ and â€œDonâ€™t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue,â€ both written by Leigh and recorded by Crystal Gayle.
In 1978, then Nashville Mayor Richard Fulton presented Leigh with The Key To The City. In 1988, he was honored with a space on the NARAS Starwalk. However, he received one of his greatest honors in 1994,twenty years and one month after arriving in Nashville, when his peers elected him into the Nashville Songwriterâ€™s Hall Of Fame.
Other artists who have recorded Leighâ€™s songs include: Anne Murray, Martina McBride, George Jones, K.T. Oslin, Ronnie Milsap, B.J. Thomas, Bill Medley, Perry Como, Connie Francis, Debbie Boone, Conway Twitty, Alabama, Shenandoah, Tammy Wynette, The Bellamy Brotherâ€™s, Suzy Boguss, Guy Clark, Ricky Scaggs, Lorrie Morgan, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Marie Osmond, Jerry Jeff Walker, Kitty Wells, Bobby Bare, the great Ray Charles, and many others.
Born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Virginia, Leigh is a graduate of VHCC and Virginia Commonwealth University. In addition to his numerous songwriting awards, Leigh was named to the American Association of Community Collegesâ€™ Alumni Hall of Fame in 2011 for his outstanding contributions to his profession and service to his community.