Home of the Live Music Calendar Follow STLBlues on Twitter Follow STLBlues on Facebook Home of the Live Music Calendar Live Music Is Better, Book It Here!! Live music is better, book yours now!

The Godfather of Gospel, Rev. Timothy Wright, Passes

Reverend Wright
The Rev. Timothy D. Wright, a Grammy-nominated Gospel singer and composer who filled his recordings, and his Brooklyn church, with his rolling, booming baritone, died April 24. He was 61 and lived in Roosevelt, New York, on Long Island.

Pastor Wright, the founder of the Grace Tabernacle Christian Center Church of God in Christ, in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, had been hospitalized since July 4, when his car was struck head-on by a car going in the wrong direction on Interstate 80 near Loganton, Pennsylvania. His wife, Betty Wright, 58, the co-pastor of Grace Tabernacle, and their 14-year-old grandson, D. J. Wright, were killed. Known to many fans as “the Godfather of Gospel,” Pastor Wright recorded 12 albums and composed many of the songs on them. His 1994 album, Come Thou Almighty King, recorded with the New York Fellowship Mass Choir, reached the Top 20 on the Billboard Gospel charts and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Traditional Soul Gospel album. Five years later Pastor Wright received another Grammy nomination in the same category for Been There Done That, recorded with the B/J Mass Choir and featuring Myrna Summers.

“He had a huge, raucous voice that he maintained well into his 50s, long after most such voices are shot,” Anthony Heilbut, author of The Gospel Sound: Good News and Bad Times, told the New York Times.

He also managed, Mr. Heilbut continued, “to split the difference between the older style that he was raised in — the rollicking shouts and bluesy moans of traditional Gospel — with the more Jazz- and Pop-influenced sounds of contemporary Gospel.”

“And he was not merely a singer and a choir director,” Mr. Heilbut added, “but well known as a composer of Gospel songs.”

In 1976 Pastor Wright formed the Timothy Wright Concert Choir; among its albums were Who’s on the Lord’s Side? and Do You Know the Light? Previously, according to Uncloudy Days: The Gospel Encyclopedia, by Bill Carpenter, he had composed songs for musicians like Mattie Moss Clark and the Rev. Isaac Douglas.

Timothy Donald Wright was born in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn on June 17, 1947. His father, John Cleveland Wright, was a Pentecostal minister. Besides his son David, Pastor Wright is survived by four other sons, Danny, Donny, Derrick and Dwayne; two brothers, James and L. C. Wright; and 13 grandchildren.

Timothy Wright was enraptured by Ggospel music as a youngster. At 12, he was playing piano for the choir at Washington Temple Church of God in Christ in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a large congregation led by the Rev. Frederick D. Washington. Timothy was a protégé of the pastor’s wife, Ernestine B. Washington, a renowned Gospel singer known as “the songbird of the East.” By his early 20s, he was music director of Washington Temple Church. He was ordained by Pastor Washington in the late 1970s, and in 1990 he founded Grace Tabernacle.

Three years ago, during a convocation at his church, Pastor Wright recorded “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” It has since become known as the Katrina song. It tells of an old woman who lost everything in the 2005 hurricane but still held to her faith.

 Live Music Calendar | Send Blues News | © STLBlues 2000 | Privacy Policy