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.