Syreeta Wright (August 3, 1946 – July 6, 2004), who recorded professionally under the single name Syreeta, was a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter best known for her work with ex-husband, Stevie Wonder, and with Billy Preston.
She got her start in the music business as a receptionist for Motown in 1965. Within a year, she became a secretary, just as Martha Reeves (of Martha and the Vandellas) had done before her. A year later, Edward Holland of the Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting team noticed Wright’s singing and decided to try her out for demos of Supremes songs.
I have been an unabashed fan since 1974 when she released the album which is today’s Groove of the Day, which I think is some of her best work. I have never before featured an entire album as the Groove; but there are few albums I love as much as this… plus, it’s less than 40 minutes in length. Also, it is a representative window on this particular point in time.
She is probably best-known for her 1979 recording with Billy Preston of “With You I’m Born Again”, which resulted in an international hit reaching number-four in the US and number-two in the UK. The song is a little saccharine for my taste, but I include it here because it was her biggest hit and she looks absolutely beautiful in this performance.
Syreeta was married three times. Her first marriage, to longtime collaborator Stevie Wonder, lasted only 18 months between 1970 and 1972, and ended with an amicable divorce after a troubled marriage. The couple continued to collaborate after the marriage ended.
She briefly lived in Ethiopia in the mid-1970s where she worked as a Transcendental Meditation teacher.
A native of Pittsburgh and Detroit, she lived briefly in South Carolina and then in New York while still married to Wonder. She eventually settled in Los Angeles where she lived for the rest of her life.
Syreeta died of heart failure, a side effect of chemotherapy and radiation treatments she was receiving for breast and bone cancers. She was just 57 years old.
Groove of the Day
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