“Sugaray” Rayford is an American Soul blues singer and songwriter. He has released Six albums to date and was awarded “bma soul blues artist of the year” in 2019.
SUGARAY RAYFORD wins ‘Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year’ BMA award
Forty Below Records is proud to announce that Sugaray Rayford is the winner of a Blues Music Award in the Soul Blues Male Artist Category at the 40th Annual Blues Music Awards. The BMA's are recognized as the highest honor given to blues musicians and are awarded by vote of Blues Foundation members.
Somebody Save Me
On March 1st Forty Below Records released Somebody Save Me, the new studio album from Texas-born soul blues singer, Sugaray Rayford. On the album’s opening track, “The Revelator”, Rayford forcefully sings, “I’m a freak of nature / I ain’t no honey bee / I’m an unknown creature / The like you’ve never seen.” At 6’5” and 300 pounds, this cigar chompin’ ex-Marine with a voice like a force of nature holds court in any room he enters. Possessing a magnetic personality, and an old school vocal style that echoes Muddy Waters, Otis Redding and Teddy Pendergrass, Rayford is also a stellar dancer with moves reminiscent of the Legendary James Brown.
Somebody Save Me is an ambitious album that slides gracefully between the new blues of Gary Clarke Jr. and Fantastic Negrito, the rock & soul stylings of The War & Treaty and the vintage Daptones soul of the late Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones, bringing a fresh take to classic sounds.
The album was written and produced by Forty Below Records founder Eric Corne. Best known for his work with blues legends John Mayall and Walter Trout, Corne and Forty Below have also launched the careers of several talented new artists, such as Sam Morrow, Jaime Wyatt and KaiL Baxley. A number of mainstays from Corne productions feature strongly here including guitarist Rick Holmstrom (Mavis Staples), bassist Taras Prodaniuk (Dwight Yoakam), drummer Matt Tecu (Jakob Dylan), keyboardist Sasha Smith (Sam Beam, Jesca Hoop), guitarist Eamon Ryland (The Happy Mondays) and the horn section from Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Corne recorded the bulk of the record live and the chemistry of the performances infuses the songs with a spontaneity and raw emotion.
The ten songs on the album explore contrasting themes of darkness and light. There is social commentary like on “Time to Get Movin’” “The mansions on the hillside / Look down on homeless camps / While we’re caught in the crossfire / Lookin’ for the exit ramps”. There are several love songs, including two gorgeous soul ballads, “My Cards are on the Table” and “Somebody Save Me”, the Stax inspired “You and I” and the more Motown leaning “Is It Just Me”, “She could bring peace to the Middle East / They’d be ready to sign / Free the worst villain / From the tightest prison / And have the warden waving goodbye”.
The album is full of inspired arrangements with several unexpected twists and turns; like the John Barry (James Bond) inspired bridge of “Angels and Devils”; the wobbly 1950s inspired keyboard solo and lush strings of the title track, recorded with The Section Quartet (Ryan Adams, Father John Misty); and the gospel choir, shape-shifting keyboards and dramatic horns of “The Revelator” which seamlessly blends blues, soul and jazz with a hint of reggae. But at the center if it all is Sugaray Rayford’s commanding voice, tying it all together.
When Sugaray belts out a song, you not only hear it, you feel it. The excitement in the room is palpable when he takes the stage; he is a superb vocalist and entertainer. His dynamic voice is large just like the man. With his old school vocal style, echoes of Muddy Waters, Otis Redding and Teddy Pendergrass can be heard. At 6’5” he is a big man, but he moves with grace and energy. His fluid dance steps will remind you of the Legendary James Brown.
Sugaray Rayford nominated for two 2019 Blues Music Awards
Sugaray Rayford was nominated for two awards for the 40th annual Blues Music Awards in 2019. The two nominations are:
Soul Blues Male Artist
B.B. King Entertainer of the Year
The WOrld We Live In
With the help of Blind Faith Records, Sugaray presents his debut soul album project, ‘The World That We Live In.' This collection of ten original songs carries the gift of universal appeal that towers above tastes and trends, and it's an album destined to become an instant classic. The World That We Live In is all original material with the feel of 1960-70's soul. A full band with horns, strings and back-up vocals complete this old school feel.
Italian soul ambassador Luca Sapio made it his mission to bring Sugaray’s music to the forefront by recording this album. In order to create the most authentic sound possible, it was recorded in Luca’s analogue studio in Italy, with racks of vintage gear and a killer house band. What they have so magically created is an album which sounds like an instant classic.
Keep an eye out in our online store to purchase this new music, or purchase today below.
May 2011, Sugaray became one of the lead vocalists for the Mannish Boys, who were under Delta Groove management. This international act performs 6-8 times a year. He sang lead vocals on 9 songs on Double Dynamite the Mannish Boys CD that won Best Traditional Blues Album in May 2013 at the Blues Music Awards. His first solo CD Blind Alley was a self-release in 2010, which garnered critical acclaim. His second solo CD Dangerous, was released on 9/17/2013 under the Delta Groove label and debuted at # 2 on Blues Debut Chart, #6 on the Roots Music Chart and #2 on The Living Blues Chart. Below is the journey that has taken Sugaray to this point in his career.
Texas born Caron “Sugaray” Rayford began his musical career at the age of 7 singing & playing drums in church, and his gospel influence can be heard and felt in his music. Rayford's phrasing is intimate and conversational and the soulful gravel in his voice hints at his firsthand experience with hardship.
Hard times in Texas
He grew up in Texas, his childhood marked by poverty and loss. He remembered a sad game he played with his brothers, a competition that determined who was skinniest by counting the number of belt holes left unused. His mother struggled to raise three boys alone while battling cancer. When she died, it was a kind of relief. "She suffered and we suffered," Rayford said. "Then, we moved in with my grandmother and our lives were a lot better. We ate every day and we were in church every day, which I loved. I grew up in gospel and soul.”
The San Diego Days
His switch to contemporary music began about 15 years ago in the San Diego area, where he sang lead vocals with a R&B/Funk band called Urban Gypsys. With this band he had the privilege of sharing the stage with many notable artists such as The Average White Band, Dennis Quaid, Joe Luis Walker, Kal David, Super Diamond & Venice, to name a few.
Turn to the blues - Aunt Kizzy's Boyz
After dabbling in blues, Suga realized that the blues was where his heart and soul belonged. So after some soul searching he left the Urban Gypsys and became lead vocalist for Aunt Kizzy’z Boyz, a Temecula area blues band. Shortly after joining the band in 2004, they released their first CD “Trunk Full of Bluez”. This band was hungry and did over 200 gigs a year over the next few years and their popularity rose exponentially.
Aunt Kizzy’z Boyz represented San Diego (Blues Lovers United San Diego) in Memphis Tennessee January 26th- 28th, 2006 at the International Blues Challenge (IBC), and brought home the 2nd place prize. The band began playing higher profile gigs and in 2007 released their 2nd CD “It’s Tight Like That”. In September 2008, the Boyz won the LAMN Jam Grand Slam Urban Artist of the Year title by a landslide; they beat out hundreds of competitors.
The band was offered a distribution deal on the spot by RBC Records. Tabitha Berg wrote, “The band’s most valuable ingredient is that of the band’s dynamic front man Sugaray, he knows how to read and work a room. While most artists simply perform, exceptional artists are responsive to the mood of the crowd. The energy shifted when AKB took the stage, and they had the crowd on its feet within seconds.”
Los Angeles - home sweet home
After moving to Los Angeles several years ago, Sugaray was asked to host a blues jam at Cozy’s in Sherman Oaks. It is through this venue that Sugaray met and played with innumerable world-class musicians. Suga’s desire to explore and expand his musical vision has been nourished by these musicians. His solo career has flourished in LA.
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He also travels the world singing with other bands like Igor Prado Band, “Big Pete” van der Pluijm, Sax Gordon and several other musical bands.
He has done studio vocals on several projects, such as the theme for Judge Joe Brown, the movie trailer City Lights, a couple of songs on Person of Interest and many other projects.
May 2012 he made his stage debut starring in the Tony award winning play “Ain’t Nuthin’ But The Blues” at the Portland Center Stage in Portland Oregon. He joined members of the New York Broadway cast playing the part previously played by the late Ron Taylor. It had a 6-week run where every show ended with a standing ovation.
He also starred with Felicia Fields and Chic Streetman in the play "Low Down Dirty Blues" that ran in Milwaukee and Cincinnati in 2015. It was a great success in both cities. Suga hopes to have the opportunity to perform on stage in the future.