NEW YORK (Top40 Charts) - Singer & songwriter Syreeta Wright, who was once married to Stevie Wonder
has succumbed to cancer at the age of 58, it was announced yesterday.
Syreeta was also a recording artist for Motown Records, but she started at Motown as a secretary.
Born in Philadelphia in 1946 (28th February / Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, USA), Syreeta originally joined the Motown stable as a receptionist, however was later to become a performer after being discovered by Brian Holland.
She changed her name at the label's request to Syreeta, as Rita Wright didn't have the 'punch' the label felt would bring her success. She began recording background vocals during the Sixties, releasing a single of her own in 1967. That song was produced by Ashford and Simpson and was called 'I Can't Give Back The Love I Feel For You', a tune originally being intended for Diana Ross.
The following year, and following the suggestion by Stevie Wonder, she became a songwriter. One early success between the two was the song 'It's A Shame' for the, then, Motown Spinners.
By 1970, the collaboration with Stevie saw the release of the song 'Signed, Sealed Delivered, I'm Yours', a song she co-wrote with Wonder, Lee Garrett and Lula Hardaway. That same year, she collaborated with Stevie on his album 'Where I'm Coming From', co-writing the songs 'Do Yourself A Favor', 'Something Out Of The Blue', 'If You Really Love Me' (a song on which she sang) and 'Never Dreamed You'd Leave In Summer'.
Stevie and Syreeta married on the 14th September 1970, and although they were divorced just 18 months later, they continued to work together for several years.
In 1972, Syreeta released her debut album, simply entitled 'Syreeta' for the MoWest imprint. The album was produced by Stevie and contained her version of the Stevie song 'I Love Every Little Thing About You', along with her interpretation of the Smokey Robinson tune 'What Love Has Joined Together', and the socially aware 'Black Maybe'.
In 1974, the couple collaborated again on the album 'Stevie Wonder Presents Syreeta'. This set brought her chart success with the singles 'Your Kiss Is Sweet' and 'Spinning and Spinning'.
On back ground vocal chores, the line-up included Deniece Williams and the late Minnie Riperton. Their last collaboration came with the song 'Harmour Love', which became another crossover hit and was later included on her 1977 album 'One To One', a set that contained the excellent Leon Ware / C. Robertson Jnr song 'Tiki Tiki Donga'.
Syreeta recorded one album with G.C. Cameron, entitled 'Rich Love, Poor Love', in 1977, before collaborating with Billy Preston, an association that saw the pair producing the film 'Fast Break'.
The couples major success came with the U.S. and U.K. Top 10 hit, 'With You I'm Born Again', in 1979.
In 1980, Syreeta recorded the song 'And So It Begins', a tune that has become a 'rare groove' over the years. Syreeta and Billy completed a further album project in 1981 and a single release entitled 'Go For It'.
In 1981, Syreeta released the album 'Set My Love In Motion', an album produced by Ollie E Brown.
By 1983, she had a further release with the album 'The Spell', this time under the production wing of Jermaine Jackson, an album including the song 'Forever Is Not Enough'. She then became a guest vocalist with the performer Willie Hutch on the song 'The Glow', a tune featured in the movie 'The Last Dragon'. After this release, family affairs took over and she stopped recording for a while.
She returned to the studio n the late 80's, recording several tracks for lan Levine's Motor City label, including a solo rendition of 'With You I'm Born Again' and new duets with Billy Preston.
Syreeta was off the scene for most of the 1990's, although she contributed the lyrics and sang the song 'Someday' for Nelson Rangells 'In Every Moment' project in 1992 for the GRP imprint.
Syreeta wrote, or recorded with Sheree Brown, George Howard, Gary Bartz, Patrice Rushen, Wayne Henderson, Jeffrey Osborne, The Stairsteps, George Duke, Quincy Jones and Donald Byrd, amongst others, at various times.
Sadly in 2004, and after a 2 year struggle with bone cancer, Syreeta lost her fight with the illness. She was 58.
Stevie Wonder Presents Syreeta (1974)
One To One (1977)
Rich Love Poor Love - With G.C. Cameron(1977)
Set My Love In Motion (1981)
Billy Preston & Syreeta (1981)
The Spell (1983)