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Robert Cray

Tin-eared critics have frequently damned him as a yuppie blues wannabe whose slickly soulful offerings bear scant resemblance to the real down-home item. In reality, Robert Cray is one of a precious few young blues-based artists with the talent and vision to successfully usher the idiom into the 21st century without resorting either to slavish imitation or simply playing rock while passing it off as blues. Just as importantly, his immensely popular records helped immeasurably in jump-starting the contemporary blues boom that still holds sway to this day. Blessed with a soulful voice that sometimes recalls '60s great O.V. Wright and a concise lead guitar approach that never wastes notes, Cray's rise to international fame was indeed a heartwarming one. For a guy whose 1980 debut album for Tomato, Who's Been Talkin', proved an instant cutout, his ascendancy was amazingly swift -- in 1986 his breakthrough Strong Persuader album for Mercury (containing "Smoking Gun") won him a Grammy and shot his asking price for a night's work skyward.

Cray was born on August 1, 1953 in Columbus, Georgia. An Army brat who grew up all over the country before his folks settled in Tacoma, Washington in 1968, Cray listened intently to soul and rock before becoming immersed in the blues (in particular, the icy Telecaster of Albert Collins, who played at Cray's high school graduation). Cray formed his first band with longtime bassist Richard Cousins in 1974 . They soon hooked up with Collins as his backup unit before breaking out on their own. The cinematic set caught a brief glimpse of Cray (even if they weren't aware of it) when he anonymously played the bassist of the frat party band Otis Day & the Knights in National Lampoon's Animal House. Cray's Tomato set, also featuring the harp of Curtis Salgado, was an excellent beginning, but it was the guitarist's 1983 set for HighTone, Bad Influence, that really showed just how full of talent Cray was. Another HighTone set, False Accusations, preceded the emergence of the Grammy-winning 1985 guitar summit meeting album Showdown! for Alligator, which found the relative newcomer more than holding his own alongside Collins and Texan Johnny Copeland. Strong Persuader earned two Grammys in two years and made Cray a familiar face even on video-driven MTV.

Unlike many of his peers, Cray continued to experiment within his two presiding genres, blues and soul, on sets for Mercury such as Midnight Stroll in 1990, I Was Warned in 1992, and Shame + a Sin in 1993. After switching to Rykodisc in the late '90s, Cray released Take Your Shoes Off in 1999 and Shoulda Been Home in 2001, proving that the "bluenatics" (as he amusedly labels his purist detractors) have nothing to fear and plenty to anticipate from this innovative, laudably accessible guitarist. Touring regularly with the likes of Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan, Cray stayed active in the studio as well, signing with Sanctuary Records and releasing Time Will Tell in 2003, Twenty in 2005, a pair of live albums, Live from Across the Pond in 2006 and Live at the BBC in 2008, and This Time, which was issued by Vanguard Records a year later. Cray released his third live album in four years, Cookin' in Mobile, in 2010. The material that comprised the album was taken from a single performance at the Saenger Theatre in Mobile, Alabama in February of that year. The Kevin Shirley-produced Nothin But Love, a solid outing featuring narrative songs that circle around the trials and tribulations of love, appeared in 2012. Nearly two years later, he announced details of his 17th album the Robert Cray Band called In My Soul. Released in spring of 2014, In My Soul saw Cray reuniting with producer Steve Jordan, who had previously helmed Take Your Shoes Off, and settling into a deep, soulful groove. ~ Bill Dahl & Al Campbell, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

just so nice
GooGood smooth singerd singer
As far as i am concerned robert Cray can play no bad music. Seen several times cottilion in Wichita never been nothing but awed Olskool
hubertdavisf o r 3
BLAH BLAH BLAH... Cray is just good. That is all.
sailorboi102 3
Where's the Midnight Stroll album?????
krudd3
A supremely talented man, with a voice that just shows every emotion he sings. He's someone that later generations will look up to and wonder what we were listening to that critics were panning him? No guts, no glory.
How can a man get so down and dirty with the blues and soar so high with the soul?!? PURE BRILLIANCE!
Seen Robert several times. Last time at Motor City Casino in Detroit. Love everything he does.
Chef Chi-Town grew up in the city of blues. In the early 90's I was introduced to "Young Bob" MAN WHAT A SWEET BLUESY SOUND!! I SAW HIM @ THE ARAGON BALL ROOM IN THE WINDY CITY ON MY BIRTHDAY. IN A DOUBLE BREASTED SUIT PLAYING BAREFOOT!!! KICKIN A**!!! YOUNG Roberto f**kin ROCKS!!!!!! ITS TRUE CAUSE CHI-TOWN SAID SO!!!!!!
jbearjb
So smooth, so awesome.
david.vick_u s a
Saw him on The Mountain Stage in March 2014, dude is awesome!
Don't. Here or see much of Robert Cray anymore but this is what music was meant to sound like!Can rock out to this all night long!
chris-smith3
young Bob, playin some great blues. First saw him in a small club in DC mid-80s...ma n can he play and sing!
Love me some Cray!
I was lucky to catch him live in Wi at summer fest. We were 35 feet from the stage. It was as great a Blues show as I have seen. WOW! I was blown away. If he is anything but a Blues star I don't know it. We love all his work. I have seen a Blues show or 2 growing up in Chi town.
Best album was Sweet Potato Pie!
I knew a man with his band that sounded just like R.C. So cool
Favorite Robert Cray line... The blues is not a color
Just saw Mr Cray..fantab u l o u s ! ! Saw him many years ago with Clapton & was just as good. Such emotion when he plays. Close your eyes, listen and you will go many wonderful places. Sweet :)
biggermandan
Robert Crayfish Cray....The coolest, hippest guy stuff out there today!
A lot of comments for Robert , which is great , watch him play with John lee hooker .... Fantastic
krudd3
I was hooked the first time I heard him on the radio. Gigantic talent!
Mr. Cray have a way of painting a picture with lyrics and music that take you on a journey without leaving your seat .He is truly a gifted artist.
olevol
I live in Memphis and grew-up in this area during the Sixties and Seventies. This guy is purely Blues and Soul. Fantastic. I loved his music for 30+ years.
hodgdons7
Heavy Picks. That one's an oldie. MHO? As some others say, I'd put him almost on SRV quality!
Love Robert Cray!!! This is a sweet song. Love his sexy voice.
Midnight Stroll is my favorite album by him
about 15 years ago my harp player told me he wanted him to shut up and play, I played some deeper cuts and since then he said sing bubba sing,,, my man is Smokestack millen, and he has been blowin hot fire since 1967, he knows the blues he taught me, and o that day I schooled him, one time only
Mr. Cray is free, not in a box and I like things different. Keep the spirit.
He's great, but at 60, no young gun of the blues, right?
they never mentioned don't be afraid of the dark, mr cray has a sound all his own, you hear a song you don't know by him and you know his voice and guitar signature right off, there is blues and there is soul, he has his own category,,, awesome
One of the best new blues guys.
I like it!!!!!
Very smooth. Good stuff!
These Things is my favorite Robert Cray song. Every time I played that song in my barracks room, someone would wander in to find out who sings it.
I dig I've slipped her mind. One of my favorite blues songs.
Love Robert Cray, started listening in late 80's. One of best bluesman performing. Songs Out of Eden and Already Gone are killer songs
captain933
This is a gem. The discordant guitar at the start. A great song. Had not heard it before, but been a Cray fan for years. The SRV tribute concert was great, but for the loss of a Blues Singer.
christina320 1 0
:-)))))))))) ) ) ) )
christina320 1 0
Super. Star
christina320 1 0
X).
christina320 1 0
This. Song. Rocks
dbrown0840
i have been listening to Robert (Bobby) since 1985 when i saw him on saturday nite live. have seen him in concert 5 times over the years. my husband and i consider him one of the best & one of our favorites. You know he did the concert jam with SRV & others the night Stevi died. I don't listen to what anyone says.....I listen to the music and decide for myself and i'm usually right when i know great when i hear it!!! Go Bobby!
I've been listening to Robert Cray introduced him to friends and my kids. Love his music.
I find in the music scene that either the public or the critics don't know what the f**k they are talking about. In Cray's case the critics have their head up their a** and honestly I don't think the public ever really understood his sound either, regardless of pretty good record sales for Cray. I just missed him play, he performed at ST Gregory's University in OK a couple years before I got there, fate can be cruel
not an expert on him, but he is my favorite blues artist and also my favorite guitar player alongside Steve Howe Joe Satriana Lowell George Bonnie Raitt Andres Segovillia and others. I had his album Strong Persuader playing the morning of 911
jtny786_
Never heard Robert Cray before, great voice -- terrific vocals. Why do we continue to be bombarded in the media by so many dummies and pretenders from the big time music scene when talented guys like this we get almost by luck of the draw. I got Roberrt Cray on a Keb Mo station; go Keb Mo on a Seal station! Yah!
Young Bob!
padgetcowan
Love me some Robert Cray. I've been lucky enough to see him many times over the years. I smile when I hear his signature end to nearly every song live Thank you, thank you kindly
He remains one of my favorite bluesmen...h e is up there with Stevie Ray Vaughn.
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