Brian Freshwater (1947-2023): Tributes to UK soul music exec behind Junior, David Grant & Joss Stone

Brian Freshwater (1947-2023): Tributes to UK soul music exec behind Junior, David Grant & Joss Stone

Industry executive Brian Freshwater has died aged 75, following a lengthy career in music publishing and management. 

Ahead of his funeral on March 8, business partner Jacqui Hughes (pictured with Brian Freshwater) pays tribute to the exec…

Brian Freshwater (aka Fresh, Freshie and Freshbits)  began his career as a musician with a passion for songwriting. However he soon transferred that passion over to the music industry side, quickly developing a reputation for having "great ears” and for championing artists.

While he was professional manager at Screen Gems EMI Music he was responsible for signing Hi Tension and Dexys Midnight Runners.

Brian left EMI to set up Freshwater Management, representing British soul acts Linx, David Grant, Jaki Graham, Junior Giscombe, Peace By Piece, Andrea Grant and Haywoode. Linx were nominated for a BRIT award (British Breakthrough) in 1982. 

Junior’s massive worldwide hit Mama Used To Say was written by Junior and producer Bob Carter in Brian’s office in Harley House, which had quickly become a happy hub of creativity. 

Brian also represented Bob Carter and songwriting team Leeson & Vale, writers of the Ivor Novello Award-winning Would I Lie To You, which was recorded by Charles & Eddie and went on to be No 1 in six countries and Top 5 in a further 12. Brian was hugely involved in persuading Lemar and his team to cover the Leeson & Vale-written If There’s Any Justice which peaked at No.3 in the UK charts.  

Enjoying chart success after linking Derek Bramble with both David Grant and Jaki Graham, Brian went on to represent the writer/producer/multi-instrumentalist throughout a long career, which has seen Derek work with David Bowie, Heatwave, Anastacia, Will Smith and Whitney Houston, amongst many others. Derek has described Brian as “my guy and my sounding board”. 

In the early 1990s, Brian also began managing Carrie Grant, guiding her and David Grant’s musical collaboration to a MOBO-winning album. He then began the repositioning of Carrie and David, which saw them pivot into successful TV entertainment careers. This began with Pop Idol and then extended to Fame Academy, The One And Only, Can't Sing Singers, Pop Shop and Glee Club, among many others. He also secured a book deal for them with You Can Sing 

During this period, Brian won his first MOBO award with Peace By Piece

Having already been friends for 20 years, Brian and Jacqueline Hughes (Fresh and Jac) started working together in 2000, setting up Freshwater Hughes Management with the intention of specialising in the representation of artists, producers and songwriters, working specifically in the genre of soul. 

Freshwater Hughes Management’s first signing to their new company in 2000 was 13-year old Joss Stone. By 2003 and at the age of 16, Joss had achieved massive global success with her debut album The Soul Sessions, which was shortlisted for the Mercury Prize, nominated for a MOBO Award and by 2012 had sold in excess of five million copies worldwide. In 2005, Joss won two  BRIT awards and went on to win a Grammy and sell over 12 million albums.

The second signing to the company was Irish singer-songwriter Foy Vance who, as an artist, had built a strong following which included a then unknown Ed Sheeran. Foy has since become one of Ed’s regular collaborators. During this period, Freshwater Hughes Management formed Wurdamouth Records with Foy and released his debut album Hope.

In 2006 at the 33rd Annual Gold Badge Awards, Brian and Jacqueline received the prestigious award voted for by their contemporaries at the MMF, which recognises the achievements of outstanding contribution to the British music industry.

The company had recently been preparing to release long-awaited new music by Conner Reeves, an artist whom Fresh was absolutely passionate about. He was determined to be here to see out the plan to release a new album. Sadly it wasn’t to be.

A 12-year old Joss’s name for Fresh was ‘BFG (Big Friendly Giant)’. To those who have loved and worked most closely with him, it comes as no surprise that the same words of condolence are now being used over and over again to describe this wonderful man: “kind, thoughtful, mild-mannered, honest and full of integrity”, with one message capturing perfectly what so many have been expressing: “a true gent in an industry where that undervalued quality is in short supply”.

This gentle giant of a man with an encyclopaedic knowledge of music contributed so much, in particular to the UK soul music industry, and was held in the highest esteem by all those who worked with him. His loss will leave a huge Fresh-shaped hole in the lives of all who knew and loved him.

Brian’s funeral will be held on March 8, 2023. For further info please contact Jacqui Hughes at:


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