Richard Wright
Richard Wright
Richard William Wright was an English pianist, keyboardist and songwriter, best known for his career with Pink Floyd. Wright's richly textured keyboard layers were a vital ingredient and a distinctive characteristic of Pink Floyd's sound. Wright frequently sang background and occasionally lead vocals on stage and in the studio with Pink Floyd.
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I Shouldn’t Have To Learn Black History From A Movie
Huffington Post - about 1 month
This weekend, I had the opportunity to see Hidden Figures, a new biographical film following the lives of three Black women who helped John Glenn become the first man to orbit the earth. The film, which will be released nationwide on Jan. 6, is as inspiring and fun to watch as everyone told me it would be. Friends and family strongly encouraged me to see the movie because it takes place in Hampton, Virginia, my hometown ― a fact people thought I would appreciate. But it’s precisely because it takes place in Hampton that some parts of the movie were deeply unsettling for me. Spoilers inbound.   There’s a scene in the movie in which Mary Jackson (played by the fabulously talented Janelle Monae) applies to be an engineer at NASA only to find out that she needs certain classes to qualify. These classes, it turns out, are only being held at Hampton High School. This disheartens Jackson, because she knows she can’t take these classes at HHS ― because that school is for whites o ...
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The Unbearable Whiteness Of Secular Studies
Huffington Post - about 2 months
I recently submitted a course proposal entitled “Going Godless: Challenging Faith and Religion in Communities of Color” to a School of Religion at a prominent university in California. After many gyrations, it was shot down due to “lack of funding”. The course focuses on the intersectional politics of secularism, atheism and humanism, as well as the work of secularists of color like Anthony Pinn, Mandisa Thomas, Heina Dadabhoy, Juhem Navarro Rivera, Sincere Kirabo, Candace Gorham and the D.C. group Secular Sistahs. The uptick in Americans identifying as secular Nones has led to the creation of more secular courses, many of which are housed in Religious Studies departments. Despite the much ballyhooed “Rise of the Nones” there is currently only one bonafide Secular Studies department (based at Pitzer College and helmed by secular scholar Phil Zuckerman) in the U.S. For the most part, Secularism in the American academy is a cobbled together affair, featuring one-off courses domin ...
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The Timely Joys of Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley
Huffington Post - 3 months
I'm looking forward to the next play on offer at the Marin Theatre Company, in Mill Valley, but after the events of the past few months, I'm glad it doesn't open until next month. It's the West Coast premiere of Native Son, by Nambi E. Kelley, adapted from Richard Wright's justly famed 1940 novel. MTC's work is always so good, I'm sure the Chicago-set play, which conveys the social inevitability behind a horrific crime, will be well worth seeing. But like many people around here, I think, I need something gentle, sweet spirited, and charming right now. I need to laugh! Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley is just the ticket. Critics and playgoers will call it "a holiday delight," and they'll be right, but it's far more than a seasonal bonbon. Beyond its wonderful wit and humor, clever characterizations, and almost farcical comings and goings, the play delves into questions of freedom, duty, and happiness so deftly, you almost don't notice how thoughtful it is. If you know your Jane ...
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Jennifer Ashley Tepper Dazzles Again With 'The Untold Stories Of Broadway'
Huffington Post - 3 months
If the walls of Broadway's fabled theatres could talk, they'd tell amazing stories. And historian Jennifer Ashley Tepper shares them with flair. As she never tires of pointing out, the physical setting of a theatre--everything from modern sounds and lights to a creaking infrastructure dating back decades--can play as much of a role in shaping productions as the actors onstage. There may be no better example than the surreal opening night of "Once in a Lifetime," a comedy written by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, which debuted at the Music Box Theatre in 1930. As the show began the cast realized that something was gravely wrong. Surefire laugh lines were falling flat and the audience was silent. It hadn't heard one word. In his memoir, "Act One," Hart remembered looking wildly toward Kaufman to see what was amiss, and the panic ended only when a voice in the balcony rang out: "It's the fans--turn off the fans!" In the excitement of opening night, an electrician forgot to shut them ...
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Ol' Man River, Neo-Liberalism and the Politics of Race
Huffington Post - 4 months
Ryan Speedo Green, a thirty-year old African-American Bass-Baritone who stars at the Metropolitan Opera, was born in a poor home in southeastern Virginia and spent several months of his childhood in prison. Thomas Chatterton Williams, an African American writer who lives in Paris recounts Green's story in a book review in last Sunday's Times. According to Williams, Green appeared at a fundraiser in Manhattan and after singing one song was asked for an encore. "Oh, you should do 'Ol' Man River,' " an "¬elderly black pianist" suggested, referring, according to Williams, "to a humiliating number about the unceasing misery of being black. It is a song white audiences have lapped up -- and ¬demanded of black vocalists -- since it was first staged on Broadway in 1927. Green both knows it by heart and detests it; he is black, but he is also a student of Verdi and Mahler." Here he was, Williams continues, "in a room packed with well-meaning people who did not see him, who perha ...
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Going Live From Charlotte
New York Times - 5 months
Richard Wright Jr., 29, of Charlotte, N.C., participated in a third night of protests in the city on Thursday, after a police shooting of a black man ignited demonstrations. “I really felt in my heart I wanted to be about something,” Mr. Wright said.
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New York Times article
A Letter To Tupac Shakur, 20 Years Later
Huffington Post - 5 months
Tuesday, September 13, 2016 Dear Tupac: There is a lot I want to say to you, so much so that I do not know where to begin. There is rarely a day or week that I do not think about your life, and your death, since that fateful day on Friday, September 13, 1996. I have tried, at times, and with great failure, to block you out of my head, to ignore the people who've asked me mad questions about you, about the circumstances of your death. I've been utterly frustrated, even, when it felt, during these past twenty years, like my life, in some ways, and for whatever reasons, is at least partially linked to yours. Maybe I should simply start at the beginning. When I first heard of you, it was when your debut album, "2Pacalypse Now," had just been released. We were still in what we now call the Golden Era of hip-hop, when an incredible and diverse range of rap music was being produced, it felt, every single month, from one new artist or another. At the time, groups like N.W.A and ...
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On Chicago's Blues: Where Have You Gone, Harold Washington?
Huffington Post - 9 months
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel remains in office months after evidence emerged that during his reelection campaign he hid from the public a videotape of a white police officer shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald sixteen times. The juxtaposition of the two Democratic presidential candidates calling for the resignation of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder for the lead poisoning of children in Flint while failing to call on Emanuel to do the same underscores the political complicity of what's happened to African Americans in Chicago. But perhaps no one has been more complicit than local black leaders and, sadly, African-American voters, themselves. I am not a native of Chicago. After relocating here seven years ago, however, an unmistakable vibe about the city immediately struck me. Its African-American denizens were suffering from something post-traumatic, though precisely what remained mysterious to me. The racial hierarchy that one sees in all major cities was more pronounce ...
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<i>Trumbo</i> -- Hollywood's Anti-communist Tribute to Itself
Huffington Post - about 1 year
Trumbo, produced and written by John McNamara and Bruce Cook and starring Bryan Cranston, is billed as a courageous defense of Dalton Trumbo, a well-meaning communist writer. According to the film, Trumbo was little more than a courageous democrat who was Black-listed by Hollywood, went to prison, spent a decade in screenplay exile, and triumphantly returned through his own true grit and talent--as the good guys in Hollywood, Kirk Douglas and Otto Preminger, finally got him re-instated. His life is portrayed as a story of how truth, justice, and the American way win out over narrow-mindedness and knee jerk anti-communism. It vilifies and caricatures those like Senator Joseph McCarthy, gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, actor John Wayne, and the heads of the Hollywood studios as those who sullied our wonderful first amendment. It's enough to make you sing America the Beautiful and sign up for the U.S. army on the way out of the theater. Not surprisingly, we can't expect Hollywood to tell ...
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If 'Save The Last Dance' Was Released In 2016
Huffington Post - about 1 year
It's been 15 years since the first time audiences watched the interracial love story of Sara (Julia Stiles) and Derek (Sean Patrick Thomas) unfold through dance and high school drama in "Save The Last Dance."  Although the 2001 film likely had fans rehearsing its most memorable dance scenes in front of a TV, it also touched on important issues of race and race relations that still impact us today.  That's not to say things haven't changed in society since the film, directed by Thomas Carter, was released to theaters. It certainly has. Here's a look at what "Save The Last Dance" might've looked like if it was filmed and released in 2016. 1. Derek would be a vocal supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement.  Derek was a conscious high school student who memorably put his soon-to-be love interest in place during class when he argued about the lack of recognition of black authors like Richard Wright and James Baldwin.  2. The gun and gang-related violence in Chicago and ...
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African American Poetry in the Age of the New Jim Crow
Huffington Post - over 1 year
Here's a new collection of in-your-face poetry by Reginald Dwayne Betts that comes highly recommended by the likes of Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the renowned Harvard Professor, and Patricia Smith, the four-time National Poetry Slam winner. "Bastards of the Reagan Era" makes bodacious claims on readers, from the title of the book itself, to the title poem which goes on for sixteen pages and that shows that the long poem, which rarely if ever appears in the pages of "The New Yorker," isn't dead. Betts' book also shows that while the Age of the New Jim Crow has led to the incarceration of tens of thousands of young black men for minor drug offenses it has not silenced a whole generation. Indeed, "Bastards" speaks for a vast underclass. The brief biographical note at the back of the book says that Betts is a student at Yale Law School and that President Obama appointed him to the Coordinating Council of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. That's all true, and, ...
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Keep Hope Alive
Huffington Post - over 1 year
Sometimes we experience events, although separate and independent from one another, that provoke similar thought responses. So, it was this past Thursday evening when I was the invited guest speaker to several residents assembled in the Grand Lobby of the Millennium Tower on Mission Street in San Francisco. The content message of my remarks reminded me of a discussion I had two weeks ago, when I was interviewed publicly by the media commentator Jonathan Capehart from MSNBC and The Washington Post. The interview occurred on a stage in a Conference ballroom at the Low's Coronado Bay Resort Hotel in San Diego, CA. Instead of before residents at the prestigious Millennium Tower, my remarks occurred at the Annual Conference of THE COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK. Attendees at the San Diego Conference were executives and communication directors and/or managers of several of the major charitable foundations in our country today. Aggregate private and corporate foundation wealth in 2014 was $358.3 ...
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The Voice of a Misunderstood Black Millennial Voter
Huffington Post - over 1 year
This semester, I'm continuing my "Blog Blog Project," where I feature student voices from the University of Delaware on all things related to political communication. The blogs that you'll read this semester are a result of a new endeavor -- to have frank discussions about race in America. The students in my class have voted for this blog from Ayanna Gill, a Mass Communication Major with minors in Political Communication, Journalism and Black American Studies. She writes from the perspective of a black millennial voter in 2015. A black millennial is not easily defined. As a collective group, black millennials cannot be categorized, boxed or pre-determined. In the same manner in which the black race is not monolithic in thoughts and ideas, black millennial voters are not easily swayed. Black millennials were born as products of a society with proliferating technological advancements and social events that shape their opinions and their position within society. Events that gave rise to ...
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Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Richard Wright
  • 2008
    Age 64
    Wright died at home of lung cancer on 15 September 2008, aged 65.
    More Details Hide Details At the time of his death, he had been working on a new solo album, which was thought to comprise a series of instrumental pieces. The surviving members of Pink Floyd paid Wright tribute. Waters said "it is hard to overstate the importance of his musical voice in the Pink Floyd of the '60s and '70s" and was happy that they had managed to reunite for Live 8. Mason said Wright's contributions to Floyd were under-rated, and that his playing "was the sound that knitted it all together", comparing his "quiet one" status in the band to George Harrison. Gilmour called him "my musical partner and my friend", praised the ability of the two men's voices to blend, such as on "Echoes". Wright's death brought Pink Floyd to a formal end, with Gilmour re-iterating that it would be wrong to resume touring without him.
  • 2007
    Age 63
    His final live performance was as part of David Gilmour's band at the premiere of Gilmour's concert DVD Remember That Night on 6 September 2007 at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.
    More Details Hide Details After an edited version of the film had been shown, the band took to the stage to jam.
    Wright's final vocal performance took place at "The Madcap's Last Laugh" a tribute concert at The Barbican in London on 10 May 2007.
    More Details Hide Details It was organised by Joe Boyd in the memory of Barrett who had died the previous July, and featured Waters solo before Wright performed as part of Pink Floyd, including a performance of "Arnold Layne".
  • 2006
    Age 62
    In 2006, Wright joined Gilmour and Mason for the official screening of the P•U•L•S•E DVD.
    More Details Hide Details Inevitably, Live 8 surfaced as a subject in an interview. When asked about performing again, Wright replied he would be happy on stage anywhere. He explained that his plan was to "meander" along and play live whenever Gilmour required his services. The same year, he co-wrote the Helen Boulding B-side, "Hazel Eyes", with Chris Difford.
    In 2006, he became a regular member of Gilmour's solo touring band along with former Floyd sidemen Jon Carin, Dick Parry and Guy Pratt.
    More Details Hide Details He contributed keyboards and background vocals to Gilmour's solo album, On an Island, and performed live in Europe and North America that year. On stage with Gilmour he played keyboards, including a revival of the Farfisa for performing "Echoes". Wright sang lead on "Arnold Layne", which was released as a live single. He declined an offer to join Waters and Mason on the The Dark Side of the Moon Live tour to spend more time working on a solo project.
  • 2002
    Age 58
    Wright played at several of Gilmour's solo shows in 2002, contributing keyboards and vocals, including his own composition "Breakthrough".
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  • 1999
    Age 55
    In 1999, touring Floyd keyboardist Jon Carin joined with Wright's wife to bring Wright and Waters back together after some 18 years apart; the two men met backstage after a tour date by Waters.
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  • 1996
    Age 52
    In 1996, inspired by his successful input into The Division Bell, Wright released his second solo album, Broken China, which had been co-written with lyricist Anthony Moore, who helped with production and engineering.
    More Details Hide Details The album covers the theme of depression and helped Wright come to terms with seeing friends affected by it. Musical contributions came from Pino Palladino on bass, Manu Katché on drums, Dominic Miller (known from his guitar work with Sting) and Tim Renwick, another Floyd associate, on electric guitar. Gilmour contributed a guitar part for "Breakthrough" but his performance didn't make the final mix of the album. Wright considered taking the album on tour, but concluded it wouldn't be financially viable. Sinéad O'Connor sang lead vocal on two tracks, "Reaching for the Rail" and "Breakthrough", with Wright covering the remainder.
  • 1995
    Age 51
    Wright married his third wife Mildred "Millie" Hobbs in 1995, with whom he had a son, Ben.
    More Details Hide Details They separated in 2007. Wright's daughter Gala is married to Floyd and Gilmour touring bassist Guy Pratt. Wright had been fond of the Greek islands since a sabbatical visit in 1964, before Pink Floyd were formed. He moved to Greece in 1984 after Zee, briefly retiring from music, and enjoyed sailing and yachting. In his later years, Wright lived in France and spent time on a yacht he owned in the Virgin Islands. He found sailing therapeutic, relieving him from the pressures of the music business. He was also a keen collector of Persian rugs.
  • 1994
    Age 50
    By 1994, he had rejoined the group full-time as an equal partner with Gilmour and Mason.
    More Details Hide Details He co-wrote five songs and sang lead vocals on one song ("Wearing the Inside Out") for the next Pink Floyd album, The Division Bell. This was followed by the double live album and video release Pulse in 1995. Wright, like Mason, performed on every Pink Floyd tour. On 2 July 2005, Wright, Gilmour and Mason were joined by Waters on stage for the first time since the Wall concerts for a short set at the Live 8 concert in London. This was the last time that all four (post-Barrett) Pink Floyd members performed together. Wright underwent eye surgery for cataracts in November 2005, preventing him from attending Pink Floyd's induction into the UK Music Hall of Fame. Wright's last Floyd appearance, a posthumous one, was on 2014's The Endless River. The album contained mostly instrumental music recorded during the Division Bell sessions in 1993–1994.
  • 1985
    Age 41
    After Waters' departure in 1985, Wright began to contribute to Pink Floyd again, beginning with sessions for the album A Momentary Lapse of Reason.
    More Details Hide Details However, he did not legally rejoin as an equal to Gilmour and Mason, and was a salaried musician for the resulting tour, as his contract said he could not rejoin as a full member. On the album credits, his name was listed after Mason and Gilmour and his photo did not appear on the cover.
  • 1984
    Age 40
    His second marriage to Franka lasted between 1984 and 1994.
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  • 1983
    Age 39
    In 1983, Pink Floyd released The Final Cut, the only album from the band on which Wright does not appear.
    More Details Hide Details His absence from the credits was the first time fans realised he had left the group, which was officially confirmed some years later.
  • 1982
    Age 38
    Wright did not attend the 1982 premiere of the film version of Pink Floyd—The Wall.
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  • 1980
    Age 36
    Wright was retained as a salaried session musician during the live concerts to promote that album in 1980–81, but ironically he became the only member of Pink Floyd to profit from the initial run of the costly Wall shows, since the net financial loss had to be borne by the three remaining "full-time" members.
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  • 1979
    Age 35
    By the time the group was recording The Wall in 1979, Waters had become frustrated that Wright was not contributing enough yet still claiming an equal share of production royalties.
    More Details Hide Details Wright refused to catch up on the recording backlog as his first marriage had deteriorated and he had not seen enough of his children, deciding family was more important. Waters considered suing Wright, but ultimately decided an easier thing to do would be for Wright to leave the band at the end of the project. As the band was in financial trouble at the time, Wright agreed to these terms. Several other musicians, including Waters, Gilmour, producer Bob Ezrin, composer Michael Kamen and session player Fred Mandel played keyboards on The Wall.
  • 1973
    Age 29
    On 1973's The Dark Side of the Moon he composed the music for "The Great Gig in the Sky" and "Us and Them".
    More Details Hide Details He also contributed to other album tracks such as "Breathe" and "Time", singing the lead vocals on the latter's chorus. Wright's contributions to the band diminished in the late 1970s as Waters began to write more material, with Animals being the first album that he did not receive any songwriter credits.
  • 1968
    Age 24
    After Barrett left the group in 1968 due to mental health issues, Wright considered leaving and forming a group with Barrett, but realised it would not have been practical.
    More Details Hide Details Following Barrett's departure and replacement by David Gilmour, Wright took over writing duties with Waters but gradually became less involved as a singer and songwriter as the band's career progressed. His organ playing remained an important part of the band's live set, including "Interstellar Overdrive", "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" and "Careful with That Axe, Eugene" and he contributed musical themes for film scores (More, Zabriskie Point and Obscured by Clouds). He made significant contributions to Pink Floyd's long, epic compositions such as "Atom Heart Mother", "Echoes" (on which he harmonised with Gilmour for the lead vocals) and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond".
  • 1965
    Age 21
    Pink Floyd had stabilised around Barrett, Waters, Mason and Wright by mid-1965, and after frequent gigging that year became regulars on the Underground live circuit in London.
    More Details Hide Details While Barrett was the dominant member, writing most material, singing most lead vocals and playing lead guitar, Wright played a supportive role, playing keyboards and singing, with occasional lead, and writing his own material. As the most qualified musician, Wright was responsible for tuning guitars, and would often tune Waters' bass for him in concert. Later on, he had a Strobotuner to tune guitars silently during gigs. In the band's early days, before acquiring a full-time road crew, Wright was responsible for unloading the gear at the end of each gig. While not credited for vocals on The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, he sang lead on Barrett-penned songs like "Astronomy Domine" and "Matilda Mother". Examples of his early compositions include "Remember a Day", "See-Saw", "Paint Box" and "It Would Be So Nice". Wright was close friends with Barrett, and at one point the pair shared a flat in Richmond.
  • 1964
    Age 20
    Wright married his first wife, Juliette Gale, in 1964. She had been a singer in one of the early bands that evolved into Pink Floyd. They had two children and divorced in 1982.
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    Through a friend, he arranged the fledgling group's first recording session in a West Hampstead studio, just before Christmas 1964.
    More Details Hide Details Guitarists Bob Klose and Syd Barrett joined the band, which became Pink Floyd.
  • 1962
    Age 18
    Uncertain about his future, he enrolled in 1962 at the Regent Street Polytechnic which was later incorporated into the University of Westminster.
    More Details Hide Details There he met fellow musicians Roger Waters and Nick Mason, and all three joined a band formed by classmate Clive Metcalf called Sigma 6. Wright's position in the band was tenuous to begin with, as he did not choose a definitive instrument, playing piano if a pub had one, otherwise settling on the trombone or rhythm guitar. Wright moved in with Waters and Mason to a house in Stanhope Gardens, Highgate, and began serious rehearsals to become a professional group. Although Mason and Waters were competent students, Wright found architecture of little interest and after only a year of study moved to the London College of Music. He took a break from studies and travelled to Greece for a sabbatical. Their landlord, Mike Leonard, purchased a Farfisa organ, and briefly replaced Wright in the band. However, the organ ultimately became Wright's main instrument.
  • 1943
    Born on July 28, 1943.
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