Charles Wright From Sharecropper to Soul Music Legend

Charles Wright: From Sharecropper to Soul Music Legend
Written and interviewed by Aaron Robinson – Editor


When I first heard the 70’s smash hit song “Express Yourself” by singer/songwriter/guitarist (band leader of The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band),  Charles Wright, I felt that I was capable of having a voice to express myself regarding any of my endeavors, such as painting, drawing or writing. Decades after expressing myself in my artwork, I would eventually come across the man who was responsible for recording this song, Mr. Charles Wright himself.

Mr. Charles Wright has made a tremendous impact on many people across the world, along with inspiring individuals who have covered, sampled, or used his songs in commercials and movies.

Since escaping the harsh life of once being a sharecropper, today the legendary singer continues to live out his career as a successful artist, along with being the author of the new autobiography “Up From Where We’ve Come” where he talks about his early life and family who encountered racial tension, social injustice and hardship in the deep south near Clarksdale, Mississippi.

I had the privilege of interviewing one of the greatest artists of all time, a man with a genuine spirit and humor, who can still laugh and love after all he has encountered throughout his lifetime.  Over the course of his career, he has become an influential figure in American Pop Culture, Doo Wop, Funk, Soul and R&B. I am proud to present this one-of-a-kind interview of Soul Music Great, Mr. Charles Wright.

Aaron Robinson: Hi Mr. Wright, how are you doing sir?
Charles Wright: I’m fine how are you doing bro?

Aaron: I’m great! It’s an honor to be on the phone with you sir! Congratulations on your new book, your new song and to all of your endeavors! You’re a legend, so that speaks for itself.
CW: Thank you! You heard my new record?
 
Aaron: Yes, I shared it with my fiancé and we really enjoyed it.
CW: Oh, thank you!
 
Aaron: What was your inspiration and motivation behind writing your new record “She Don't Believe In Love"?
CW: It just happened. Sometimes stuff just comes to me and I write it down. It’s just one of those songs. “Looking for an Ugly Woman,” that’s my favorite video (laugh).
 
Aaron: Your music has been heard for many generations. Why do you think your music has a long lasting impression on your fans and audience and is still listened to ‘til this day?
CW: Well one, the music has to be effective. If you don’t have a good track there is no sense of thinking of making a record. The other thing is if a community is at a halt, the music helps that society move along. So mostly that’s what I do. I’m real serious about what I’m doing. And I think it pays off now from me being serious. For instance, the record “Express Yourself” It's not what you look like, when you're doin' what you're doin' / It's what you're doin' when you're doin' what you look like you're doin'! It means don’t be jiving, you have to be really doing it and you’ll make it over.
 
Aaron: Great, great! You also released an autobiography last month. Why did you feel that it was so important for you to tell your life story in the book titled “Up From Where We’ve Come”.  
CW: I think there’s a greater message in American history. I try to fill that link - the link between slavery and sharecropping. Some young men don’t know what sharecropping is - you know white folks owned the land, we worked the land. They kept us in a hold and we owed them. It’s just another form of slavery. People need to know this, especially young people who don’t have any idea of where they came from; they walk around calling each other niggers. They need to know what they’re doing. They have to understand that if they don’t stop what they are doing, they’re going to erase themselves off this side of this planet. It may sound crucible and very cruel. I never imagined this kind of wrath. They don’t even know where their parents and grandparents have been. It’s a link of rare history that’s not too far in the past that needs to be expressed. Nobody has really expressed it the way that I did, I don’t think. So, that’s one reason that I wrote the book. I also wanted to chronicle my life story. So to cram it all in one book, I did my first 12 years there, so I’m doing another book now so people can see what happened to me and how I went into my music career.
 
Aaron: I really have been enjoying reading your book! Do you feel as if America has come a long way when it comes to being open-minded about racism and other ethnic groups?
CW:  Hell no! (Laugh).  I can put a question mark behind my title and that won’t even stick (Laugh). I don’t know, unless there’s been other kind of changes.
 
Aaron: When you began your music career, were there a lot of racial barriers and stereotypes that you encountered and broke through?
CW: Yea! These people, they have smiled, laughed and then joked with you, but then when you turn your back and look at them, what’s going to happen? That’s the society we live in man.
 
Aaron: Your song “Express Yourself” was a huge hit and was samples by one of the biggest rap groups in the late 80’s, NWA, and of course many other artist. What is it like when you hear other artist sample your music or remake it?
CW: I’m real honored. Also, I just think that it’s not my song anymore; it’s the people’s song. I reap the benefits from it; I’m thankful. Matter of fact, they’re doing this movie called Express Yourself. They’re going to do my song ten-thousand ways in this movie. So I’m very honored, especially when I go to the bank (augh). This song, I never dreamed that it could do what it did or what it’s doing. I’m so thankful that someone always wants to use it for something. If it wasn’t for that brother, let me tell you something brother! To be honest with you, I wouldn’t know what I would be doing.
 
Aaron: Mr. Wright, outside of writing and music, you’re an author, what other things are you involved with or enjoy doing and so forth?
CW: Just being able to do what I wanna do when I wanna do it. If you’re reading my book, and you realize that’s quite of ways from where I’m coming. Sometimes I couldn’t do nothing but what I didn’t wanna do! (Laugh).  I’m very thankful that I can do what I need to do and what I want to do - express myself!
 
Aaron: I seen Little Richard on your show. Do you still record The Express Yourself Show?
CW: No, I did 33 of those shows. Actually I tried to get someone to air them and they didn’t, so I’m putting some [shows] out on my site. Actually, I’m very proud that Richard spent time and came in and did a show with me, as well as other people that’s not even into show business.
 
Aaron: Before we end the interview, would you like to add anything in closing regarding your new song or book?
CW: The song, "She Don't Believe In Love," is really taking care of itself. The stations are really picking it up real fast. I think it would be a huge record. The book is my main concern. Trust me, people who haven’t read it, if you go to Amazon and see the reviews I got, they are all 5 stars except for one. I like the book so much that I’ve read it at least 5 times (laugh).
 
Aaron: It’s a good book, I couldn’t put it down.
CW: Most people who read it said it’s a good book. I try to get it out there so people can see it and buy it. That’s all I try to do now. That’s what all my promotions are all about. I appreciate you calling me.
 
I thank you for the interview!
 
Aaron: I thank you for talking with me, it means a lot to me Mr. Wright! Have a good day.
CW: You too sir!

PurchaseUp From Where We’ve Come”

 


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