|Syreeta Wright |
A Grammy-nominated American singer-songwriter most notably known for her work with Stevie Wonder and Billy Preston.
Syreeta was born Syreeta Wright in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1946, and started singing at age four.
Wright focused her attention on a music career joining several singing groups before landing a job as a receptionist for Motown in 1965. Within a year, she became a secretary for Mickey Stevenson, just as Martha Reeves had done before her.
A year later, Edward Holland of the famous Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting team noticed Wright's singing and decided to try her out for demos of Supremes songs.
Motown CEO Berry Gordy shortened her birth name to "Rita," and Wright released her first solo single, "I Can't Give Back the Love I Feel for You", in early 1968.
Wright also performed demo vocals for the Supremes hit "Love Child" and Ross's "Something's On My Mind", which Ross later recorded for her self-titled debut album.
Wright also sang background on records by the Supremes and by Martha and the Vandellas, notably singing the chorus to the group's modest hit single, "I Can't Dance to That Music You're Playing".
Wright met labelmate Stevie Wonder in 1968, and the two began dating the following year. On the advice of Wonder, Wright became a songwriter. Their first collaboration, "It's a Shame", was recorded by The Spinners, in 1969.
Wright also began singing background for Wonder, most notably on the hit "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)", which Wright co-wrote with Wonder.
Wonder and Wright had marriage troubles and divorced in the summer of 1972, ending their 18-month marriage. Following their divorce, Wonder oversaw the production of Wright's first solo album, Syreeta, which included Wright's take of Wonder's "I Love Every Little Thing About You".
In 1974, Wright was again reassigned this time to the Motown label proper (in the U.S.), and issued her second release, the aptly-titled Stevie Wonder Presents: Syreeta that June.
A chance meeting with Billy Preston, who had signed with Motown in early 1979. Motown assigned the two to collaborate on a pop ballad for the movie Fast Break. Wright and Preston provided the soundtrack of the film and their first collaboration, "With You I'm Born Again", resulted in an international hit reaching number-two US and number-four UK in late 1979.
Syreeta Wright died on July 6, 2004 of congestive heart failure, a side effect of chemotherapy and radiation treatments she was receiving for breast and bone cancers. She was 57 years old.
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