Sugaray Rayford, a rising star in the international Blues community, has been nominated for a Grammy Award for his critically acclaimed album, Somebody Save Me, which was released this past March on Forty Below Records.
It marks the latest in a series of honors awarded Rayford during the past year alone, including nods for “Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year” at the 40th Blues Music Awards, a pair of 2019 Muddy Awards for “Best Performance” and “Best Recording,” and a win for Blues Blast’s “Best Blues Band.”
The accolades also follow a stream of critical kudos. Downbeat called Rayford a performer with “a soul-blues voice that has an emotional strength.” Albumism raved “A sound that’s undeniably fresh and inspired. Living Blues hailed him as “a soul singer who brilliantly weaves blues, jazz and gospel inflections into his soaring songs.” Blues Music Magazine agreed, describing Somebody Save Me as “an outstanding showcase of Sugaray Rayford’s great talent.”
“I just feel blessed,” said Rayford in response to his Grammy nomination. “I can’t believe this could ever happen to me.”
Eric Corne, Rayford’s writer and producer, added, “It's a huge thrill to be working with such a massive talent as Sugaray Rayford. As a songwriter, producer and owner of Forty Below Records, I am truly humbled, honored and grateful to be included amongst such a strong field of nominees.”
Rayford himself may be best described by this lyric from “The Revelator,” the new album’s opening track: “I’m a freak of nature / I ain’t no honeybee / I’m an unknown creature / The like you’ve never seen.” Indeed, at 6’5” and 300 pounds, this cigar chomping’ ex-Marine sings with a voice that comes across like a force of nature. His magnetic personality and old school vocal approach brings to mind such legends as Muddy Waters, Otis Redding and Teddy Pendergrass, he captivates his audiences with dance moves reminiscent of the legendary James Brown.
Despite a difficult childhood fraught with poverty and other domestic difficulties, Rayford began his musical career at the tender age of seven, singing and playing drums in church. After a ten-year stint in the Marines, he opted to pursue a musical career which formally began with his self-release debut album, 2010‘s Blind Alley. A year later, Rayford joined The Mannish Boys and sang lead on nine of the songs featured on their album, Double Dynamite, which went on to win “Best Traditional Blues Album” at the 2013 Blues Music Awards. His next solo album, Dangerous, was released in 2013, followed by Southside in 2015, and The World We Live In in 2017. To date, Rayford has been nominated for over a dozen BMA’s (including “Vocalist of the Year”) and multiple B.B. King “Entertainer of the Year” awards, and induction the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame.
The Grammy Award ceremony will be televised Sunday, January 26, 2020 at 8 p.m. EST