From his humble beginnings singing gospel music in his father’s Baptist church choir in New Jersey, through his major label incarnations opening for the likes of Lenny Kravitz and Blues Traveler, to joining Talking Heads’ David Byrne’s touring band, Portland, Oregon-based rock ’n’ soul troubadour Redray Frazier has always been able to meld the influences of his record collection into his spectrum-covering brand of soul music.
“My record collection celebrates Nina Simone, Bill Withers, Jose Feliciano, The Beatles, Sam Cooke, Donny Hathaway, Jimi Hendrix, Roberta Flack, Labi Siffre, Richie Havens and so on,” comments Redray on his musical influences. “I have a sneaking suspicion that current artists that I love and relate to, like Britany Howard, Michael Kiwanuka, Leon Bridges, Gary Clark Jr. – to name a few – all probably have some or all of the earlier legendary artists mentioned in their record collections as well.”
All of these influences play a role in his forthcoming single, “Better Man,” to be released in November on New York-based indie Greystone Music Group. While previous Redray Frazier singles were more uptempo, like the rock ’n’ soul of “Blood In The Water” and the electronica-soul of “Knocking On Your Door,” “Better Man” is a mid-tempo smolder. The song will have a video accompanying its release, directed by innovative videographer Marcus Bleecker and featuring the radiant and truly talented India, playing the role of the singer’s love interest.
Working with his brother, Paul Frazier, who he hasn’t seriously worked with since his 550/Sony Music-signed family band, Funky Poets, Redray flew to New Jersey to collaborate and record with Fraz (Paul’s nickname) at Fraz’s studio.
He has spent the better part of the last ten years playing shows, touring, and collaborating with his band, who are all based in Portland, Oregon with him. While they all get along great and enjoy being around each other, he says as differently as he went about making “Better Man” than previous solo releases, it still was very familiar to him, because of his history of working and recording with his brother.
The result is a track that Redray is quite proud of, something that surprised him. He tries to always write songs that he would want in his own record collection, but will be the first to admit that sometimes that doesn’t always work out. With “Better Man” it did.