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Syreeta Wright (August 3, 1946 – July 6, 2004), who recorded professionally under the single name Syreeta, was a singer-songwriter active from the 1960s until her death. She is considered one of the most underrated R&B vocalists to emerge out of the 1970s Motown scene.Read More...
Born Syreeta Wright in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Syreeta was working in the '60s as a Motown secretary when she was enlisted as a backup singer. Founder Berry Gordy later signed her to the label and she recorded a Brian Holland/Ashford & Simpson tune initially meant for Diana Ross, "I Can't Give Back the Love I Feel for You."
Wright married Stevie Wonder on September 14, 1970, and although they were divorced just 18 months later, their professional collaboration as songwriters spawned a series of hits, including "If You Really Love Me," "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)" and The Spinners' "It's a Shame."
She released her first Wonder-produced Motown album, the critically acclaimed Syreeta, under the MoWest imprint in 1972. Stevie Wonder Presents Syreeta, which musically depicted their relationship from love/marriage to divorce/enduring friendship, was released in 1974. The titles peaked at No. 185 and No. 116, respectively, on Billboard album chart. Her singles include "Spinnin' and Spinnin'" and "Your Kiss Is Sweet."
Her best showing on the chart came with 1980's simply titled Syreeta, released on Motown's Tamla imprint, which reached No. 73. The duet with Billy Preston, "With You I'm Born Again," originally appeared on that year's soundtrack to the Paramount movie Fast Break. The track reached No. 4 on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart in 1980.
Syreeta recorded her last studio album, The Spell, in 1983. The album was produced by Jermaine Jackson. During this time, Syreeta boasted a résumé that included work with Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Leon Ware and Donald Byrd, among others.
After "The Spell," she kept a relatively low profile. She appeared as guest vocalist on albums by artists such as Kirk Whalum (1989) and Nelson Rangell (1992). In 1994, she re-emerged to tour with the Jesus Christ Superstar cast featuring Ted Neeley as Jesus and Carl Anderson as Judas. She played the role of Mary Magdalene. She also recorded with Michael Bolton. Syreeta spent a lot of time in the United Kingdom in the last 15 years. She recorded some songs that were released in the UK as part of a series of compilations on the Motorcity label. The songs also appeared on a Japanese only CD called With You I'm Born Again.
She died on July 6, 2004 of congestive heart failure, which she acquired as a side effect of chemotherapy and radiation treatments she was receiving for an ongoing bout with breast cancer. She was 57 years old.
Her song "Harmour Love" was featured in both the opening and closing credits of the 2005 independent film Junebug, sparking a resurgence in catalog sales of "One to One", as no soundtrack was made available to the film.
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