Exclusive Interview with Woody Wright
Woody Wright is a singer, songwriter, publisher, instrumentalist and producer. As a singer he has sang with the Oak Ridge Boys, the Tennesseans, Ponder, Skyes and Wright and as part of Matthew, Wright and King, they have even released 2 critically acclaimed country albums released by Sony Music. As a songwriter, Wright has written for Alvin Slaughter ("Build a Bridge"), Gaither Vocal Band ("I'm Gonna Sing"), Mark Lowry ("God is Crazy (About You)") among many others. As a producer, he has recently produced Willie Wynn's most recent comeback album "Willie Wynn and Friends;" an album that has had received a rave review here at Hallels.com. We are honored to be able to catch up with Woody as we reflect with him on some of God's blessings in his career past as well as some of God's most exciting plans for him in the future. Read on for this exclusive Hallels' interview:
Hallels: You have got quite an illustrious career: from singing with the Oak Ridge Boys, to the Tennesseans to Ponder, Sykes and Wright to Matthew, Wright & King and so forth. Then you were also involved with Prime Time Country and later you became a Gospel music writer and producer, if you were to choose one era of your career, which do you think was the most fruitful?
Wow... that is hard. I have been blessed to do so much in the music industry, from creative to performance, TV, video, bus driving.... but I think the most fruitful time of my career began when I thought I was shutting down the music business part of my life. I married Vonnie and left Nashville to live in tiny Alexandria, Indiana. I expected to find some sort of employment and stay close to home for the most part. To my surprise, my songwriting went double time, and we have been around the country and to Europe at least once every year for the last ten years. So, to answer, these are the good ole days!
Hallels: I personally came to know about you when you were part of the country trio Matthew, Wright and King. I was a little boy then and I was a fan of the whole post Garth movement. I remember loving your 2 country CDs especially the first one which was produced by Steve Buckingham (who produced one of my all time favorite Dolly Parton album "Eagle When She Flies"). Why did you decide to record commercial country? And what happened after the second Matthew, Wright and King CD "The Seeker"?
Matthews Wright & King was a studio experiment that turned out well. We were blessed to record for Columbia Records - the label of my high school dreams! After Shenandoah left the label, Steve Buckingham signed us, and when he later left the A&R Department, Randy Scruggs produced the second project, "Dream Seeker." We toured with Reba McEntire with Vince Gill, Brooks Dunn, John Michael Montgomery and others. The sell out arena and amphitheater shows shows were unbelievable. We did a half dozen music videos, and enjoyed a great deal of radio success. With every label in town trying to break a male group act at that time, the space for success was limited. None of us really hit it hard.... except Lonestar. They were the deserving winner of that contest that included McBride & The Ride, Little Texas, Ricochet, Boy Howdy, the Remmingtons, Western Flyer and others. But the winner of the BIG contest was eventually Rascal Flatts.
Hallels: Currently, you are also a Gospel music songwriter. What are some of the songs you have written? Which is your all time favorite and why?
There is a long list of Gospel artists who have recorded my songs. The Gaither Vocal Band has done over a dozen, Mark Lorwy, Janet Paschal, Chonda Pierce, the Hoppers, the Booth Brothers, Triumphant, Legacy Five.... I am leaving out some important ones.... some 100 songs have been released by Gospel groups and artists. My favorite is "Brand New Song" that was recorded by the Gaither Vocal Band. From the time I first played it for Mr. Gaither - to their performance of it this past Saturday evening in Illinois, it has been my biggest blessing as a songwriter/publisher. But, there are new songs that no one has heard that I am really excited about. They have the same emotional attachment that I had with "Brand New Song." So, my all time favorite may change!
Hallels: You have also recently produced Willie Wynn's brand new CD "Willie Wynn and Friends" (which we have recently reviewed here at hallels). How did you get Willie out of retirement to record this project?
Oh, I have wanted to do a record on Willie for many years. We have had a "Willie Bash" party for the last three years, and it started when Willie was inducted to the SGMA Hall of Fame four years ago. Several guys who sang with Willie through the post Oak Ridge Boys years gathered around the piano in the hotel lobby and sang until the wee hours of the morning. Then we did it again the last two years, and that is when I decided to cut new tracks and make a Little Willie record! We had so much fun, and it is great to hear him sing - and even as he approaches 80, the man still has it. Raw charisma and charm, and the most distinctive tenor voice, ever!
Hallels: You have also recorded your own solo albums, can you tell us more about your latest album?
It has been some years since my last solo project. I did "Cover To Cover" where I basically covered songs I wished I had written and always wanted to record. Great Pop and Country songs that fit into any venue, from Todd Rundgren's "Love Is The Answer" to Roger Miller's "Where Have All The Average People Gone" with covers of Glen Campbell, Edgar Winter, James Taylor and others. I loved making that CD. My latest self written project is "Turn From the Darkness" that has all Woody Wright songs with guest vocals by Little Willie, Duane Allen of the Oak Ridge Boys, Beeb Birtles of the original lineup of the Little River Band, Larry Gatlin, Bill Gaither, Ben Speer, my dearly departed brother Stephen Hill, Michael Sykes and more. It is my favorite recorded project to date.
Hallels: What are your plans in the near future? Are you planning on releasing a new album? And are you working with other artists right now?
I am the host of a weekly one hour music program called "Good News Music Radio" - www.goodnewsmusicradio.com. We play progressive Southern Gospel music, and each program can be heard online or on the nearly 200 broadcast stations around the world. We have released a video called "Rise Up Rejoice" that features many acts that we play each week, and the second DVD should be finished in the summer. I wanted to be a broadcaster when I was in high school, and it is wild - some 35 plus years later, it has happened for me! What a blessing!
Hallels: Being a veteran writer yourself, what would you consider a great Christian song?
A great "Christian" song is any song that encourages the listener - that inspires the listener - makes listeners think, and realize that Love is the main thing.
Hallels: If our readers would like to find out more about you and your projects, where can they go?
Thank you so much for taking time to focus on my blessings. My website is www.woodywright.net - not dot com, that is an alarm salesman in Alabama.... and of course, www.goodnewsmusicradio.com is the home of our weekly program.
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