Ed Wright, a radio programmer, music promoter, artist manager and private consultant for film and TV, has reportedly passed away at the age of 82. Grammy award-winning producer Don Mizell told Billboard…
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Ed was a smooth, congenial visionary and efficacious navigator at the cutting edge of the momentous advances first instigated by the Black music industry during the ‘70s. His warm and gracious personality, diplomatic style and versatility served the emergent needs of Black music’s growth at a crucial time.
Billboard reports on Wright’s death…
Wright was just 13 years old when he became a part-time announcer at WCIN in Cincinnati, where he was born in 1940. After going full-time at the station in 1958, he later became its news director and production manager. Wright also majored in communications at University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music.
Between 1962-66, Wright served as program director of Cleveland radio station WABQ, where he helped foster today’s modern urban radio format. Also during that period, he became the youngest president of the National Association of Television and Radio Announcers (NATRA), an organization representing Black broadcasters. In the latter half of the decade, Wright segued into the music industry as the head of Liberty Records’ Minit division, whose roster included the O’Jays and Bobby Womack. In addition to managing artist development, production, promotion and sales in coordination with the Liberty branch distribution system, Wright supervised marketing for the Blue Note jazz label.
Wright hung up his own shingle as president of the Edward Windsor Wright Corporation (EWW), focusing on promotion and public relations, from 1969-1976. In addition to Blue Note, the company’s clients included major and independent labels such as CBS Records, A&M, Warner Bros., Capitol, MCA, Stax, United Artists and Philadelphia International as well as ABC Circle Films (Barry Diller) and New World Pictures (Roger Corman). At one time, EWW’s management division boasted a roster ranging from Womack, the O’Jays, Teddy Pendergrass and Herbie Hancock to Natalie Cole, Billy Paul and Earth, Wind & Fire.
Kenneth Gamble of legendary production duo Gamble & Huff, and co-founder of Philadelphia International, first met Wright at a NATRA convention. The pair would later co-found the Black Music Association, out of which arose the declaration of June as Black Music Month.
“Ed was a forward thinker,” Gamble tells Billboard. “There was lack of knowledge and comprehension about the economics of our industry. Ed, along with Clarence Avant, Jules Malamud, Glenda Gracia, Dyana Williams and artists like Earth, Wind & Fire and Stevie Wonder among others, helped advance our culture. Ed was one of the primary leaders who created economic opportunities for Black professionals as well as the establishment of Black Music Month, now in its 44th year.”
Wright’s career resumé includes his establishment of GEI Communications, specializing in market research, consultation and public relations, and the artist management firm Global Entertainment, which launched in 1977. He was also co-owner/president of the Long Beach, Calif., FM station KNAC in the ‘80s and later managed artist Chico DeBarge and the reconstructed group DeBarge featuring Bobby DeBarge.https://www.msn.com/en-us/music/news/ed-wright-forward-thinker-who-helped-shape-the-modern-music-industry-dies-at-82/ar-AA1gNa7L?ocid=msedgntp&cvid=e97c64e51b4f4a65aeefd8cbc4b2515b&ei=28
Rest in peace, Ed Wright!