The Blues Music Foundation presented the 41st Annual Blues Music Awards via virtual ceremony on Sunday, May 3rd, 2020. A rising star in the international blues community, Sugaray Rayford, has won the prestigious B.B. King Entertainer of the Year and for the second consecutive year, nabbed the Soul Blues Male Artist Award. The singer was also nominated in four additional categories.

This past December, Rayford was nominated for a 2020 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album for the critically acclaimed Somebody Save Me, released in March 2019 on Forty Below Records.

These honors mark the latest in a series of awards that Rayford has won in the past year, including a pair of 2019 Muddy Awards for Best Performance and Best Recording, as well as a win for Blues Blast Magazine’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.”

Sugaray was blown away by his wins, “I am so honored and humbled that the fans of the blues have awarded me with The B.B. King Entertainer of the Year. And, winning Soul Blues Male Artist back to back years with the talent in that category is truly amazing! I am so grateful.”

Eric Corne, Rayford’s writer and producer, added, “Seeing Sugar win The Entertainer of the Year on top of the Grammy nomination for “Somebody Save Me”, just makes me immensely proud.”

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 and has been inducted into the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame.
As a gesture of appreciation Forty Below Records is offering free shipping on
Sugaray Rayford Vinyl/CD purchases, for a limited time:

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