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Robert Cray

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Bio

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 with 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. In My Soul topped Billboard's Blues charts and on its supporting tour, Cray gave a celebratory 40th Anniversary concert that was recorded and released in 2015 as 4 Nights and 40 Years Live. ~ Bill Dahl & Al Campbell
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Albums by
Robert Cray

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    11 songs

    On Air

    Nothin But Love

    10 songs

    On Air

    Time Will Tell

    12 songs

    On Air

    Shoulda Been Home

    12 songs

    On Air

    Take Your Shoes Off

    10 songs

    On Air

    Some Rainy Morning

    12 songs

    On Air

    Bad Influence

    12 songs

    On Air

    Heritage of the Blues: Phone Booth

    1 song

    On Air

    Won't Be Coming Home - Single Edit

    10 songs

    On Air

    20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Robert Cray

    19 songs

    On Air

    Authorized Bootleg: Austin, Texas 5/25/87

    13 songs

    On Air

    4 Nights of 40 Years Live

    19 songs

    On Air

    4 Nights of 40 Years Live [Deluxe Edition]

    14 songs

    On Air

    Live at the BBC

    11 songs

    On Air

    Twenty

    1 song

    On Air

    Bad Influence (Live)

    1 song

    On Air

    Trouble & Pain

    1 song

    On Air

    Right Next Door (Because of Me)

    16 songs

    On Air

    The Definitive Collection

    12 songs

    On Air

    Heritage of the Blues: Phone Booth

    10 songs

    On Air

    Who's Been Talkin'

    22 songs

    On Air

    Time Will Tell [DualDisc]

    11 songs

    On Air

    Some Rainy Morning [Bonus Tracks]

    12 songs

    On Air

    Bad Influence

    10 songs

    On Air

    Too Many Cooks

See All Albums

Top Songs by
Robert Cray

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   Smoking Gun
  3.   Phone Booth
  4.   I Guess I Showed Her
  5.   Playin' in the Dirt
  6.   Right Next Door (Because of Me)
  7.   I Wonder
  8.   Back at the Chicken Shack
  9.   Nothin' But a Woman
  10.   Time Makes Two
  11.   I Shiver by Robert Cray Band
  12.   Let's Have a Natural Ball
  13.   That's What Keeps Me Rockin'
  14.   Twenty
  15.   I'm Walkin'
  16.   Still Around
  17.   You're Gonna Need Me by Robert Cray Band
  18.   12 Year Old Boy
  19.   Consequences
  20.   The Things You Do to Me
  21.   Poor Johnny
  22.   Already Gone
  23.   Anytime
  24.   Foul Play
  25.   Enough for Me
  26. See All Songs

Stations & Shows Featuring
Robert Cray

    On Air

    Blues

    On Air

    B.B. King: DNA

    On Air

    Modern Blues

    On Air

    Traditional Blues


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