The Leimert Park Book Fair was an amazing Success. Thank you to all who stopped by the booth or listened in during my interview.
Dozens of local and national authors greeted their fans on the Plaza Promenade where the genre of books ranged from autobiography and inspiration to mystery, crime and science fiction.
Filmmaker and author Mattie Rich (“Straight Out of Brooklyn” and “The Inkwell”) interviewed legendary musician Charles Wright, (“Express Yourself”) whose autobiography, the gripping “Up From Where We Come,” chronicled the early part of his life from growing up in Jim Crow Mississippi to his early rise in the music business.
“It took me 40 years to write this book,” confessed Wright, founder of the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, whose iconic song, “Express Yourself,” has been sampled in 80 television commercials and 30 movies.
“Every time I start reading the book, I start crying,” said Wright, whose book depicts the back breaking poverty experienced by his family.
Above, from left, are Dominique DiPrima with authors Dr. Julianne Malveaux, April Ryan and Erin Aubry Kaplan. Photo by Malcolm Ali
“Slavery was supposed to end in 1860, but in 1960, there was still a form of slavery called sharecropping,” recalled Wright, who said his father sharecropped cotton for a cruel boss named Mr. Miles. “No matter how much cotton my father picked for Mr. Miles, my father was never able to dig himself out of the (financial) hole,” Wright sadly recalled.
Wright, a musician for 60 years, also delivered his opinion on the state of Black America. “The problem is we can’t get together because we don’t know where we came from. Until we get together, we are going nowhere. No one is coming to save us but us,” he said frankly. “And I still want my 40 acres and a mule.”
“Where are you going to put the mule?” Rich jokingly quipped.
Rich discussed his gripping novel that centers on the real-life story of a little-known figure in the Civil Rights movement – a white social worker by the name of Beverly Luther who organized marches for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Rich has also secured the movie rights to the book for a film adaptation. “The Civil Rights Movement was not just an African American movement. All races participated in it,” Rich pointed out, who added that he read about Luther several years ago.
Charles Wright is “Looking For An Ugly Woman” so he can get some respect and keep his money!
Yes Charles is back with his sense of humor intact and his own special brand of vocal delivery and funk and R&B to get your body in motion and the laughs rolling.
Of course many beautiful woman are featured in the video and he never does find that ugly one to take the place of the doll causing him so much grief.
Good funky music with a great storyline is what Charles provides again. He always seems to come through.
Check the stream and the video, a double shot for ya all!
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
To continue our series of long-standing careers in this crazy business known as music, we would like to highlight the career of Charles Wright. We all know that staying power will always be a difficult task but there is proof that it can be done with hard work and catchy music.
The funk and soul musician was born in Clarksville, Mississippi. Music was a big part of his childhood and the doo-wop scene of the time was a big draw to Charles Wright. He played guitar and sang in several doo-wop groups including, “The Twilighters, “The Shield” and “The Gallahads”.
He also became a big player in the business side of the scene as he briefly worked as A&R Director for Del-Fi Records and was responsible for the hit recording of “Those Oldies But Goodies” (“Remind me of you”) by Little Caesar and the Romans in 1961. By 1964, Wright formed his own band called Charles Wright & the Wright Sounds which included, John Raynford, along with Daryl Dragon, “Captain” of Captain & Tennille. The group kept growing and went on to be known as the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band.
The big hit came for Charles Wright and his new band in the 1970’s with “Express Yourself” released by Warner Brothers Records which went on to hit #3 on the R&B chart and #12 on the Pop Charts. That song gained much bigger recognition in the 1980’s when many Rap artists sampled the track for some of the big hits of the time. The list of groups that borrowed from the song include N.W.A., Brand Nubian Funk; Naughty By Nature, Gang Starr, and Sean “Diddy” Combs.
Making music has never stopped for Charles Wright and recently released the song “She Don’t Believe In Love”. The track has a fun funk vibe that brings back the memories of an earlier and funner time. The vocals of Charles Wright pour out emotion and a true soul sound that draws in any listener. Whether you are bopping your head or tapping your toes there is no resisting the groove of “You Don’t Believe In Love”.
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Music legend Charles Wright and filmmaker Matty Rich, are the featured headliners at the 10th anniversary of the Leimert Park Book Fair.
Rich is a pioneering film director turned author whose work includes the critically acclaimed films “Straight Out of Brooklyn” and “The Inkwell.”
Wright, now also an author of the best seller “Up From Where We Come,” is the writer of the hit song “Express Yourself,” which has been sampled heavily over the years by several rappers including N.W.A.
Rich will discuss “Bev,” his gripping best-selling novel that centers on the real life story of a little known figure in the civil rights movement, a white social worker by the name of Beverly Luther. Rich has secured the movie rights to the book for a film adaptation.
Wright will talk about his new book, which highlights historical accounts of his past long before he gained status as a music legend.
The Leimert Park Book Fair is one of our community’s most important and treasured events attended by hundreds every year. As an author myself who did a signing at the festival, I look forward to this event every year.
Other local and new authors who will be signing their books include Shaun-Teka Joyner, author of” Don’t Get Rejected: How to Get into the College of Your Dreams,” and Chris L. Hickley Sr., author of “Admired Man.” Both books are available at Amazon.com.
Whatever you do. Don’t make the mistake I did last year and head to Leimert Park. The Leimert Book Fair will be held at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza Aug. 20, starting at 11 a.m. For more information, visit www.leimertparkbookfair.com.