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“Sugaray Rayford is a revelation as he powerfully moans the blues…” – Blues in Britain Magazine
”Not many singers can take us from the delta to the modern chitlin’ circuit as easily as he does. A big man with a big voice and plenty of personality…” – Jazz & Blues Report
“Whether it’s rompin’ Chicago blues, Memphis Stax-powered soul, scorching Texas blues or New Orleans-tinged jazz, Sugaray fields whatever’s his way with confident versatility.” – Colorado Blues Society
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. 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.”
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.
His latest release”Dangerous” on Deltagroove Records represents a cross section of classic and contemporary, originals and seldom-heard covers, all representing the truth at the core of Sugaray’s blues soul. From the Son House classic “Preaching Blues” and post-war gems from Junior Parker, Gatemouth Brown and Pee Wee Crayton, to well-honed originals like Sugaray’s own “Stuck for a Buck”, “Need a Little More Time” and “I Might Do Somethin’ Crazy”, it’s all killer, no filler. Supporting Sugaray is an all-star cast that includes Franck Goldwasser, Willie J. Campbell, Randy Chortkoff and Jimi Bott from the Mannish Boys, plus special guests Kim Wilson, Monster Mike Welch, Big Pete, Kid Andersen, bass man Bill Stuve, veteran pianists Anthony Geraci and Fred Kaplan, and the only other Sugar Ray available (outside of the boxing ring, anyway), powerhouse vocalist and harp master Sugar Ray Norcia. Of special note is the duet Norcia wrote especially for the occasion, appropriately enough, “Two Times Sugar”. So although Sugaray Rayford may be a new name to some, he’s definitely no overnight sensation, or this season’s ‘next big thing’ – he’s here to stay, right where he belongs.
Deltagroove DGPCD 161 (2013)