Blues guitarist and singer Robert Cray's smooth, seductive vocal phrasing and rhythmic R&B stylings have earned him a reputation as a modern blues poet. His signature blend of rhythm and blues, pop, rock, soul, and traditional blues have made him a standout, prompting Guitar Player Magazine to declare: "Cray is not only making great music, he's making history." Cray's Grammy-winning 1986 album Strong Persuader made him a leader of the '80s blues resurgence alongside Stevie Ray Vaughan and The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and propelled hits "Smoking Gun" and "Right Next Door (Because of Me)" onto the charts the year of its release. He followed that success with his next Grammy winner, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (1988), which featured the hit single of the same name.
Together with his backing band, Cray has continued to experiment with blues and soul throughout the '90s and into the new millennium. He released a string of albums on the Mercury imprint in the early '90s - Midnight Stroll (1990), I Was Warned (1992), Shame + A Sin (1993), and Sweet Potato Pie (1997) - and another on Rykodisc in the late '90s, which included the Grammy-winning Take Your Shoes off (1999) and Shoulda Been Home (2001). The early '00s saw him switch labels yet again, joining Sanctuary for Time Will Tell (2003) and Twenty (2005). He has also remained a prolific collaborator, touring with peers like Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton.
The last few years have seen Cray release a string of electrifying live recordings of performances past and present, including Live from Across the Pond (2006), Authorized Bootleg: Austin, Texas 5/25/87 (2010), and Cookin' in Mobile (2010). His latest studio album, This Time, came out in 2009. As ever with Cray's undefinable sound, the music on the disc remains stubbornly beyond category. "Blues is one of the foundations of our music, but it's not all that we play," Cray says. "When I first started playing guitar, I wanted to be George Harrison - that is, until I heard Jimi Hendrix. After that, I wanted to be Albert Collins and Buddy Guy and B.B. King. And then there are singers like O.V. Wright and Bobby Blue Bland. It's all mixed up in there."
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