Years Performed: 2018
Texas born Caron “Sugaray” Rayford began his musical career at the age of seven, singing and 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. 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.”
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’s a superb vocalist and entertainer. Sugaray’s 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 switch to contemporary music began about 15 years ago in the San Diego area, where he sang lead vocals with the Urban Gypsys, a R&B/Funk band. After dabbling in blues, Suga realized that his heart and soul belonged to blues. So after some soul searching he left the Urban Gypsys and became lead vocalist for Aunt Kizzy’z Boyz, a Temecula area blues band. This band was hungry and with more than 200 gigs a year over the next few years, their popularity rose exponentially.
Aunt Kizzy’z Boyz represented San Diego (Blues Lovers United San Diego) at the 2006 International Blues Challenge (IBC), where they brought home the second place prize. In 2008, the Boyz won the LAMN Jam Grand Slam Urban Artist of the Year title, beating out hundreds of competitors and landing a distribution deal on the spot with 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.”
After moving to Los Angeles several years ago, Sugaray was asked to host a blues jam at Cozy’s in Sherman Oaks. Through this venue Sugaray has met and played with many world-class musicians who nourished his desire to explore and expand his musical vision.
Sugaray 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’s 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.
The World That We Live In, 2017
Blind Alley, 2010