Texas born Caron “Sugaray” Rayford began his musical career at the age of 7 singing and playing drums in church. Intimate and conversational, Rayford’s soulful gravelly voice hints at his firsthand experience with hardship. A superb vocalist and entertainer, his dynamic voice is large—just like the man.
His old-school vocal style echoes Muddy Waters, Otis Redding and Teddy Pendergrass. 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. The cigar chompin’ ex-Marine with a voice like a force of nature holds court in any room he enters.
While growing up in Texas, 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 says. "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.”
During his first gig as a lead vocalist with the blues band Aunt Kizzy’z Boyz, 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.”
In March 2019, Forty Below Records released Somebody Save Me, Sugaray Rayford’s new studio album. 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.” 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 ten songs on the album explore contrasting themes of darkness and light. Soul ballads back up to social commentary, and Motown meets Bond-esque arrangements.
Living in Los Angeles, Sugaray has met and played with world-class musicians. His musical vision has been nourished by them and recognized by the Blues Foundation. In May, he was named Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year at the 2019 Blues Music Awards! With his classic R&B influence, magnetic personality and new album, we’re excited to have Sugaray at the festival!