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Daily Inspiration: Meet Helen Wright

Today we’d like to introduce you to Helen Wright.

Hi Helen, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Growing up, my father was in a bluegrass band, and my mother a costume designer. I used to sit on her sewing room floor, roll around with the dogs, and listen to everyone from Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, Joni Mitchell, Ricky Lee Jones, Steve Earle to Sondheim, Phillip Glass and Herbie Hancock – you name it. Between my dad’s weekly gigs and rehearsals and my mom’s creative nest, music was an essential element in everything my family did. Flash forward to 2014 – I was working as a production manager in New York and just felt like a huge part of me was missing, and I couldn’t quite place it. I used to sing with my father and in a couple of blues bands in high school. I realized that singing had always been a part of my life until then. At that time, I was battling some pretty intense health issues and had to return back to to my folk’s place in Sunland for medical treatment. My dad (2Ton Bridge) also happened to be recording an album with legendary producer Marvin Etzioni. He took me to Marvin’s house for an “audition” to sing backup vocals on his album. I sang some harmonies with dad and Marvin stopped and had this wide-eyed look on his face and said, “you’re not a backup singer, you’re a lead singer. We gotta make a record”. From that moment on the little piece of my heart that felt like it was always grasping for something more changed, I felt at peace and alive. There is nothing like playing a live show and giving life to a song, especially when collaborating with amazing artists. I still have to pinch myself that I have had the privilege to work with some of music’s most legendary artists such as James Gadson and Jeff Peters. September 10th, my partner and love, Kramer Sanguinetti and I, will release our duo project’s first EP called “First Flight”. This Ep was this first time I sat in the producer chair along side Kramer. We worked together intimately on the songs, recording and mixing. I also just released a music video shot in New Orleans with some of the cities finest performers for my single “Love and Life” featuring Gadson on drums.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The biggest struggle has been feeling like I have so much inside of me – so many creative cylinders firing at once and not enough financial material funding to create the vision. That being said, I have tried as hard as I can to turn that particular obstacle, which is one many artists face, into part of the creative process. When I stress about money, I try to make it fun for my brain to turn on and figure out how I can still accomplish what I want with what I have. Its a really exercise in innovative and positive thinking! (I’m also very lucky to have many creative friends and family members). I sort of identify as a wolf in that regard – I’m just gonna do it my way and it will be beautiful and glorious in its own special way. Finding that confidence is also a struggle in and of itself, but it is a fantastic feeling when it flows. That is part of the art – the process. Of course, personal struggles and life circumstances can guide and define your creative flow as well. When I was struggling with having seizures and they could not figure out what was causing them, I found it hard to dig up the energy to write or practice. It was a scary time. Writing and performing music is a very deep process, and when you’re going through something seriously personal, it can be difficult to find the focus and clarity to perform and create your art. For some those times may be a muse! I just need a lot of time to process and rest and then I tend to go into hyperdrive creatively when my soul is rested and ready.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am a singer, play tenor saxophone, and am learning how to play the fiddle. I also identify as an impassioned environmentalist and amateur gardener (there are 53 tomato plants in full bloom in my parent’s yard right now… HELP). Recently my song and newest single release “Love & Life” was placed on a Spotify playlist called “New but Sounds Old” – I got a good laugh out of that. I’m interested in everything and there is pretty much no genre that I’m not intrigued or excited about exploring (ok well, maybe there are a few). In my personal deck, I think I have composed and recorded everything from 80’s tunes to covers of Tool songs to ancient Irish Ballads and cowboy tunes.

I have several bodies of work out – my first full-length record is titled “Trouble Holding Back”, and 2 EP’s titled “Just Before It Gets Dark” and “Live at the Monkee Room”. All of these songs feature artists I think my little girl self always dreamed of working with, and I have to splash cold water on my face to realize that that dream has come true. Working with Marvin Etzioni, James Gadson, and Jeff Peters was such a supportive, kind and top of the line experience.

The EP “First Flight”, a duo project with Kramer, is definitely the biggest project I think I’ve worked on. We produced the songs together and also wrote all of the songs. Kind of feels like my training wheels have been removed. All of the songs were written while we lived in New Orleans. We had members of one of our favorite bands from Lafayette, LA, The Lost Bayou Ramblers, play as the rhythm section. The Cajun influence they brought to the song really elevated and spoke to the soul of the songs. This was definitely a milestone experience for me.

Currently, Kramer and I find ourselves in the film world and are working on scoring a TV show about U.S. football players who nearly made the cut and have been recruited by the US Major League Rugby Association . It is called “Rugbytown”, so keep your eyes open, its a very special, unique and touching story! We just finished season 1 and it has been an absolute huge learning curve. Literally dreaming about musical ideas, waking up and before the coffee is ready, playing fiddle in the driveway, figuring out a theme in my pajamas, and then having a finished recording of it by 11am. Bringing out the colors, tones and emotions of the player’s stories has been a very creatively fulfilling journey so far and combining my love of storytelling and music has been a dream come true indeed. I would love to continue to work in film scoring for this reason – it resonates deeply and makes my heart happy.

What matters most to you? Why?
Aside from family (including our four legged animal family members) and friends , what matters deeply is making music and art that is means something to people. Songs are stories, and when you bring those stories to life through song, it’s pretty magical when you think about it. Bringing people together for cathartic healing community-driven moments through song and shared experience. To help people know that they are not alone in what they are feeling and that we are all in this together. I think during these times that has been something on my mind a lot since that physical aspect of gathering has not been possible. Kramer and I are working with a wonderful couple, Gaia and Elsie Rhodes with their venue Sunspace, which has moved onto twitch since the pandemic. Sunspace was a massively important and loving community space and essential presence in Sunland. We are working on producing and curating live (and safe) events in the San Fernando Valley. Our house concert series will be called “Harmonic Gardens”, please e-mail us at aircooljenny@gmail.com if you’re interested in playing! Thanks for this opportunity Voyage LA!

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Image Credits:

Chris Strother Jeff Fasano George Adrian Peter Brittany Del Soldato

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