"Sugaray" Rayford is an American electric blues singer and songwriter. He has released four albums to date and in 2017 was nominated for 4 Blues Music Awards.
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 4 Blues Music Awards!
Sugaray Rayford is nominated for, count 'em, four awards for the 39th annual Blues Music Awards in 2018. The four nominations are:
- Soul Blues Album - The World That We Live In
- Soul Blues Male Artist
- Instrumentalist - Vocals
- B.B. King Entertainer of the Year
Sugaray has fronted his own band since 2010, called the Sugaray Rayford Band. This band is currently made up of world-class musicians who tour extensively internationally. Ralph Carter on bass who is also Suga's writing partner, Gino Matteo on guitar, Drake Munkihaid Shining on keyboards, Lavell Jones on drums, Allan Walker on sax, George Pandas on trumpet. Currently Allen Markel is substituting for Ralph on bass until Ralph can return. Leo Dombecki also joins in on 2nd keyboard and sax on select gigs. Jade Bennett also performs back up vocals on many projects.
The WOrld We Live In
The Sugaray Rayford Band is only one of his projects. 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.
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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.