Syreeta Wright, a Motown singer/songwriter, died on July 6 after a long battle with cancer. She was 58.
The Pittsburgh native began singing when she was only four years old. She launched her musical career as a secretary at Motown Records in the 1960s. Motown’s founder, Berry Gordy, eventually signed her to the label as Rita Wright. She released the record “I Can’t Give Back the Love I Feel for You,” then became a sought-after backup vocalist for artists such as Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder.
Wright married Wonder in 1970; they divorced two years later. Although she later wed bassist Curtis Robertson Jr., Wright and Wonder remained friends and continued collaborating together. She co-wrote several of his hits, including “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” “Superwoman” and “If You Really Love Me.” In return, Wonder produced two of Wright’s albums — her 1972 debut “Syreeta,” and her sophomore effort, “Stevie Wonder Presents Syreeta.”
The R&B vocalist also sang with Michael Bolton and Quincy Jones. Her duet with Billy Preston, “With You I’m Born Again,” reached the top 5 on the pop charts after it was featured in the 1979 film, “Fast Break.” In 1994, Wright played the role of Mary Magdalene in the national tour of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”