A special Author and Music Night in honor of Black History Month with Charles Wright, legendary LA musician and bestselling writer of the bestseller “Up From Where We’ve Come: An Eventful Journey” will be presented on Thursday, February 23, at 7 p.m. in the South Pasadena Public Library Community Room.
The event will also feature Petrella, “The First Lady of Country Soul” and her band, Mixed Influence. The free show is presented by the South Pasadena Public Library and the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library, with special thanks to 210eastsound!
Wright is the founder of the pioneering funk and R&B band of the 60s and early 70s, The Watts 103 Street Rhythm Band, known for the hits “Do Your Thing”, “Till You Get Enough”, and “Love Land”. Their biggest and most enduring hit “Express Yourself” is among the most sampled tracks by rap and hip hop groups. The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band was the first R&B group signed to Warner Brothers Records, for whom they recorded numerous albums. Since then, Wright has recorded many solo works, one of which proudly proclaims that the instrumentation is “played by real human beings and not computers”.
Wright will be singing some of his favorite songs and discussing his hit 2015 memoir “Up From Where We’ve Come” that covers his early years growing up in the cotton fields of Mississippi, one of 12 children in a sharecropping family. As a child growing up in the 40s, Charles worked alongside his parents and sibling from dawn to dusk (for no pay!). Charles’ adept storytelling skills and detailed depictions of the complex relationships among his family members and their neighbors have earned the praises of critics and general readers alike. “Kirkus Reviews” has declared it a “remarkable, well-told story of youth” and the book’s 23 reviews on Amazon average 5 stars, the very highest cumulative rating possible. The volume ends before Charles escapes to LA with his bright future in music. Charles’ life story will continue with his next memoir volume.
Petrella’s professional music career has spanned more than 25 years during which she has been “The First Lady of Country Soul.” Her 2013 album “Shine on Me” was a significant musical milestone for her as it appeared six years since her previous album “One Hundred Proof Woman” was released by Warner Brothers/BMG Distribution which had increased her popularity greatly. Petrella has shared the stage with acts from any different backgrounds, including Tracy Lawrence and Gladys Knight. Petrella has expressed surprise that so few women of color are in the country music business, adding that it feels natural for her because she grew up with it because “Daddy’s barbershop was next door to a honkytonk.”