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Sugaray Rayford

A bold and full-bodied vocalist with a talent as big as his 300 pound, six and a half foot frame, Sugaray Rayford is a singer who blends the passion and power of the blues with the melodies of vintage soul and the earthy grooves of funk and rhythm & blues. Growing up in Texas, Rayford first learned to perform in church, and if his sound changed with time, the fervor of his performances shows a clear connection to gospel traditions, and he can sing songs with a message just as comfortably as he can tell listeners about good love and hard times. Rayford made his solo debut with 2010's Blind Alley, he began breaking through to the upper levels of the blues community on 2017's acclaimed The World That We Live In, and 2019's well-crafted and soulful Somebody Save Me earned him his first Grammy nomination. Caron Nimoy Rayford was born in Smith County, Texas on February 13, 1969. He and his siblings grew up in poverty, raised by a single mother who struggled to support the family while battling cancer. While the death of Rayford's mother was traumatic, when she finally passed, he was raised by his grandmother, who gave him a stable home life and regularly took him to church. Church became an important part of Rayford's life, and it was where he first began making music in public, singing during services and playing drums in the worship band. In his mid-thirties, Rayford, now living in San Diego, California, moved from gospel to rhythm & blues music, and joined a band called the Urban Gypsies. The group was popular locally and opened shows for notable acts including Joe Louis Walker and the Average White Band. In time, Rayford's passions moved from R&B to blues, and he started singing with a blues band called Aunt Kizzy’z Boyz, signing on in time to appear on their debut album, 2004's Trunk Full of Bluez. In 2006, the group performed as part of the International Blues Challenge competition in Memphis, Tennessee, and came in second place. Rayford also appeared on their second LP, 2007's It's Tight Like That, but he left the band to move to Los Angeles and pursue a solo career. In 2010, Rayford self-released his solo debut, Blind Alley, and the following year he sat in with the group the Mannish Boys for the recording of their 2011 album Double Dynamite. While he would also appear on their 2014 release Wrapped Up and Ready, Rayford hadn't given up as a solo act, and his second album, Dangerous, was released by Delta Groove Productions in 2013 and included cameo appearances from Kim Wilson, Sugar Ray Norcia, and Kid Andersen. Southside arrived in 2015, and The World That We Live In followed in 2017, the latter receiving four nominations at the 2018 Blues Music Awards, including Best Soul Blues Album and Best Soul Blues Male Artist. For 2019's Somebody Save Me, Rayford signed with Forty Below Records, and the album earned him his first Grammy nomination, for Best Contemporary Blues Album.
© Mark Deming /TiVo
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