Benjamin Wright

Benjamin F. Wright Jr., began formulating the backbone of his musical career in the mid-sixties, in his native Greenville, Mississippi. He performed as drum major in the high-school marching band. He also played tympani, as well as other percussion instruments in the high-school concert band. He was chosen as the pianist for the select Directors band. After high school, his first major tour was with prominent Rhythm and Blues icon Ted Taylor where Mr. Wright played piano and shared vocal chores with the group. The group also allowed him his first opportunity to work as a musical arranger. This exposure gained Benjamin recognition as an excellent musician, which lead to subsequent R&B tours with major artists, such as James Brown, Otis Redding, Billy Stewart, and Gladys Knight and The Pips. At the end of this successful tour period, the U.S. military draft interrupted his ever so promising musical career. While serving in the U.S. Air Force, Mr. Wright enrolled in the Department of Defense music theory class, as well as taking correspondence courses through Carl Fischer Music and The Berklee College of Music to offset his mandatory, yet successful military tour of duty.

Upon his honorable discharge in Montgomery, Alabama (his last assigned military station), he was invited to perform and work with Bobby Moore and The Rhythm Aces, Chess Records recording artists who were very popular at that time. After several years, he parted from Bobby Moore and began working the hotel circuit and jazz clubs across the United States. In 1969, Mr. Wright settled in Chicago, the hub of successful R&B music at the time. He began working as a copyist for notable industry arrangers such as Charles Stepney, Gene Barge, Donny Hathaway, and Richard Evans, while performing with the Pieces of Peace. They were a group of stellar recording musicians which performed recording sessions for Jackie Wilson, The Chi-Lites, Jerry Butler, Curtis Mayfield, The Impressions, Tyron Davis, The Dells, and other greats. During this time Benjamin Wright produced his first album for blues artist Otis Clay on the TK-label. In 1970-71, he enrolled in the Chicago Conservatory of Music. At the end of 1971, the Pieces of Peace, along with Mr. Wright, embarked on a year- long tour of the UK and Middle-East. Upon his return to the states, he became the musical director for the legendary group The Dells. Soon after, The Benjamin Wright Orchestra was formed. The group played behind many of the greats performing in Chicago and surrounding areas as well as being the house band for the popular High Chaparral night club.

In 1975 Benjamin Wright headed west to Los Angeles and became the musical director for The Temptations, Gladys Knight and The Pips, Aretha Franklin, Barry White, and The Love Unlimited Orchestra. In 1979 he was the strings arranger for Michael Jackson’s first solo album, Off the Wall. Benjamin, along with Kathy Wakefield and Tony Coleman write the Grammy award winning song “Find 100 Ways,” which was sung by James Ingram on the Quincy Jones produced album The Dude. In 1982 and 1983 a new Benjamin Wright era began when he realized his dream of having his own recording studio with the opening of Ritesonian Recording Studios. He also established Ritesonian Music Company (ASCAP) at the same time.

In 1987, Mr. Wright was selected to be the musical director and conductor for the “Night of the Divas.” This event was held in Washington D.C. It was tribute to the first black opera star, Miss Marion Anderson who attended the affair. This further established Benjamin Wright as an extraordinary musician as well as an accomplished conductor.

1988 took Benjamin back on the road as musical director for Gladys Knight and the Pips to do a year of one-night shows. To even his own surprise, he suggested to Gladys Knight and The Pips to change the always 32-piece orchestra to a 10-piece band because the schedule would not allow the time to rehearse a new orchestra in a different city every day. After a little arm twisting, Gladys and The Pips gave Benjamin the go-ahead to transform the charts for the 32-piece orchestra to a 10-piece band that included five keyboard players. It worked so well that the Gladys Knight and the Pips band was the hit of the tours for the next couple of years.

Being a workaholic, Benjamin always worked in his hotel rooms on the road to write recording session charts for for many artists. The 1990’s provided many recording projects for Benjamin as he became one of the most sought after arrangers in the music business. He also toured many new places in America, Europe, Asia, and the Far East, doing long engagements in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, performing at the White House for president Bill Clinton and serving as one of the music directors for the Rhythm and Blues Pioneer Awards.

2000 was also very good for Benjam

in. He participated in more recording sessions with new artists and quite a few symphony dates. There were also opportunities for Benjamin to put together, write, and conduct a sixty piece orchestra for church programs. It was an experience Benjamin found to be spiritually rewarding.

The 2000’s saw Benjamin busy with many projects. Benjamin and his long time friend Louis Prince, a singer with The Temptations, put together an eighteen piece orchestra, known as The Price/Wright Orchestra. Benjamin also worked on five arrangements for the popular singer Brandy, and produced three tracks for The Temptations original member Otis Williams. Benjamin also worked on arrangements for two tracks for the Grammy Award-winning album Justified by Justin Timberlake and two tracks of Outkast’s smash album Speakerboxxx.

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