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Robert Cray Biography

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Robert Cray In-depth Biography

Tin-eared critics have frequently damned him as a yuppie blues wanna-be whose slickly soulful offerings bear scant resemblance to the real down-home item. In reality, Robert Cray is one of a precious few active blues artists with the talent and vision to successfully usher the idiom into the future 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 to jump-start 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 ascendancy was amazingly swift -- in 1986 his breakthrough album, Strong Persuader, for Mercury (containing "Smoking Gun") won him a Grammy and shot his asking price for a night's work skyward. Unlike too many of his peers, Cray continues to experiment within his two presiding genres, blues and soul. Sets such as Midnight Stroll, I Was Warned and Shame + a Sin for Mercury show that the "bluenatics" (as he amusedly labels his purist detractors) have nothing to fear and plenty to anticipate from this innovative, laudably accessible guitarist. Sweet Potato Pie concluded Cray's stint at Mercury, and he moved to Rykodisc for two albums, Take Your Shoes Off and Shoulda Been Home, both of which more fully embraced his soul leanings. Sanctuary records was his next stop, where he further broadened his sound by including a couple anti-war protest songs and playing electric sitar on Time Will Tell (2003). Twenty, titled after another anti-war song, followed in 2005. ~ Bill Dahl, All Music Guide

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