The Wrights are a family focused on music
Caleb Wright, who’s 23 years old, grew up in a musical family. Back in 1978, his family formed the Wright Family Singers, a 10-person choir that sings gospel and spiritual music. Then, in 1993, his aunt, Toyia Wright-Reynolds, and his uncle, Eric Wright, formed the Wright-Reynolds Project, a group that plays jazz, and rhythm and blues.
Caleb, who lives on Whitethorn Road in Cleveland Heights, is now a member of both groups, which are still performing around the Cleveland area. He grew up in Cleveland Heights and graduated from Heights High in 2009. He also attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. He is thinking about returning to New York and the academy, possibly next spring. Caleb began singing when he was about 16 years old. “Growing up, there was always somebody playing something or singing something or going to see someone else perform,” he said. “It was such a privilege to grow up in that environment.” Caleb also is a member of Sonidos Dulces, which combines jazz with pop and some barbershop choral singing.
The Wright Family Singers group was formed by Caleb’s grandmother, Willie-Mae Wright. Originally, the group consisted of Willie-Mae and all eight of her children: Beverly Wright (Caleb’s mother), Sandra Wright-Humphrey, Willie J. Wright Jr., Deborah Wright-Reed, Bridgett Wright, Toyia Wright-Reynolds, Eric Wright and Millette Wright. Bridgett died in 1987, while Eric and Deborah both died in 2011.
Willie-Mae Wright, who recently turned 80 years old, still performs with the Family Singers and as a solo artist. In 1974, she sang for Nelson Mandela, and the following year she sang for Pope Paul VI at St. Peter’s Basilica. In 1994, the Wright Family Singers performed at the White House while Bill Clinton was president.
The Wright-Reynolds Project now includes Caleb and his aunt Toyia on vocals, Jordan Wright on keyboards and Monica Carter on drums. Various other musicians play guitar and bass for the group. After Eric Wright died, Jordan, who is Caleb’s 16-year-old cousin, replaced him in the group. Jordan is also the lead pianist for the Heights Gospel Choir, which was created by Eric back in 1973.
The Wright-Reynolds Project still makes frequent appearances. They have also played at Legacy Village and at Cain Park. In addition, they appear at various bars and clubs around Cleveland, and they perform at numerous church functions and events. At press time, they were scheduled to perform at the Cedar Fairmount Halloween/Fall Festival on Oct. 29.
There are many videos of the Wright-Reynolds Project on You Tube, and the group also has a Facebook page. The band is working on creating a website: www.thewrightreynoldsproject.com.
“We are going to be performing a lot around the area,” Caleb said. “And we look forward to any opportunity.”
James Henke, a Cleveland Heights resident, was a writer and editor at Rolling Stone magazine for 15 years. He is also the author of several books, including biographies of Jim Morrison, John Lennon and Bob Marley.