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Wright, Syreeta (3rd August 1946-6th July 2004)

She was a singer-songwriter born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who worked for Motown as a secretary in the 1960s and enlisted as a backing singer.

Berry Gordy signed her to the label and she released “I Can’t Give Back the Love I Feel for You” which was initially meant for Diana Ross.  She was a member of Stevie Wonder’s group Wonderlove and married him on 14th September 1970.  They divorced 18 months later but their collaboration as songwriters continued and included hits like “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)”.

Her biggest hit was “With You I’m Born Again” which was a duet with Billy Preston that reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and No. 2 in the UK.  She also recorded with Michael Bolton and worked with artists that include Ray Charles and Quincy Jones and her last studio album was produced by Jermaine Jackson.  She backed singers including the Brothers Johnson and Martha Reeves & the Vandellas.

As an actress she played Mary Magdalene on the 1994 tour of Jesus Christ Superstar.  Her song “Harmour Love” was featured in the opening and closing credits of the 2005 movie Junebug.

She suffered from breast cancer and died from congestive heart failure on 6th July 2004 which was a side effect of the chemotherapy and radiation treatment.  She was aged 57.

Joan Baez Recordings
Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer (Stevie Wonder/Syreeta Wright)