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Willie Wright
Willie Wright
An enigmatic figure on the 1970s soul scene, Willie Wright was a singer and songwriter who spent his career laboring in obscurity but has since earned a potent reputation among collectors for his rare, self-released recordings. Wright began making music professionally in New York City where he sang with doo wop groups, but he settled in Boston in the late '60s as the city's hippie scene was on the rise. Wright became a journeyman soul singer who largely sang covers, though he occasionally wrote original material. In the early '70s, he recorded an album, Lack of Education, which he released on his own Hotel Records label; while Wright wrote the title tune, the rest of the album was devoted to material popularized by other artists. Wright also released one tune from the album as a single, a cover of Curtis Mayfield's "Right on for the Darkness," backed with his own composition, "Africa." In 1976, he made his way to Nantucket, MA, where he played night spots catering to tourists and vacationers. He ended up staying after the summer season was over, and with fewer jobs and time on his hands, he began writing more songs. In 1977, he traveled to New York City to record his second album, using much of the material he'd penned in the winter of 1976 and 1977. The album, Telling the Truth, was a deeply personal set that delved into Wright's attitudes about his life, his relationships with women, and the children he'd fathered but left behind. The tone of the songs was bolstered by the spare, intimate arrangements and the album's austere production (a simplicity dictated by the fact it was recorded in a single day). Wright once again released the album himself; its distribution was mostly limited to sales at his shows, and it received little notice. However, decades later, soul collectors discovered Wright's "Right on for the Darkness" single, which led to a new interest in his body of work. In 2011, Wright's music got a new lease on life when respected reissue label The Numero Group released a new edition of Telling the Truth, which also featured both sides of the "Right on for the Darkness" single and the song "Lack of Education" as bonus tracks. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
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