Little Woody (circa 1964)

Check out the “Roy Rogers” guitar! Trigger and a campfire by the trees, oh what I’d give for a guitar like that today!! My Daddy fixed up the strap and tuned her up to an open “E” chord for me. Flogging those bar chords and singing to the top of my lungs, anytime they would let me! We played country and bluegrass tunes around the house, then “Big Woody” started singing with a quartet!

Pictured below are my grandparents. They called me “Little Woody”. George and Willie Starr, and John and Addie Wright. The Starrs lived in Athens, TN and the Wrights in Decatur, TN. Many a childhood weekend was spent in their homes with cousins, aunts, uncles and friends. I look forward to seeing them again in Heaven!

The Dixieaires Quartet (circa 1965)

My Father is second from the right, the official spot for quartet baritones in the sixties. They sang at mostly churches, and my Mother and I often tagged along. Sometimes I would get to sing before they did. I’ll never forget ML Moser (tenor), Ozell Patterson (lead) and Jim Easter (bass). The “quartet” kids would play outside when they rehearsed. I guess this is where Gospel music was born in me.

The Woody Wright Singers (circa 1973)

On a flat-bed truck in a bank parking lot, WECO radio in Wartburg, TN hosted a local talent contest. The winners would receive a two-sided single recording from Cumberland Records in Oliver Springs, TN. Elaine Baker, Gina Gill and myself had been singing with the Cedar Grove Baptist Church Youth Choir in Kingston, TN. After we won that contest, Gary Prim became our piano player. For the next three high school years, the four of us, along with Elaine’s brother Tommy Baker on drums and Dennis Watkins playing bass, sang anywhere we could get ourselves invited. My parents bought an 8 passenger station wagon to drag us and our trailer full of sound equipment through the southern states. Woody Sr. loaned us the money (and we always recouped, I might add) to record three albums after the contest single. The last two were produced by a new kid on the Nashville scene; Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys. The Oaks band provided the tracks, and we were in heaven! Gary, Elaine and Gina graduated in 74, Tommy and I did in 75, and Dennis in 76. The WWS fell apart when Gary moved to Nashville and the girls started college so Tommy and I joined the Scenicland Boys in Chattanooga.

The Scenicland Boys (circa 1975)

Fay Sims and the Scenicland Boys had a local TV program in Chattanooga. I will never forget my East Tennessee tenor singing friend Jim Cash calling me to say, “you will either be the baritone singer or the bass player. We will figure it out when we get there. The show tapes tonight, and I will pick you up.” Just like that, I had my first “quartet job.” We made a few recordings, but mostly just had a great time traveling part-time around the southeast on Daddy Fay’s big Silver Eagle. Jim Cash, Tony Grausso, Ricky Davis, Al Malone and of course, Fay Sims did the singing. Tommy Baker, Ed Osborn, Jim Davis and I made up the Scenicland Band.

Willie Wynn and the Tennesseans (circa 1979)

I must have called Elmer Cole (lead singer with the Tennesseans) once a week begging him to find me a full-time job in a Gospel Quartet. It finally paid off when Willie Wynn called one day to see if I would be interested in playing bass for his group. I packed up and moved to Nashville as fast as I could! Being a true fan of the Oak Ridge Boys, a chance to work with Willie was a dream come true for me. I played bass for a few months, then took over the baritone position. After the group joined the Billy “Crash” Craddock Show as opening act and background vocal group, I became the lead singer. When the Tennesseans Craddock days were done, Michael Sykes and David Ponder joined the group in 1979.

Ponder, Sykes & Wright (circa 1982)

Goofing off before a Tennesseans rehearsal at my house, David, Michael and I started singing around the keyboard. We heard something that afternoon that we will cherish forever. It was a wonderful sound that scared us a little bit. We’ve all had gigs, jobs and distractions along the way. But in our minds, since that day, there has always been and there always will be a “Ponder, Sykes & Wright”

Memphis (circa 1982)

When Michael Sykes started traveling with his new wife Tanya and her father, Rusty Goodman, David and I joined the country show-band “Memphis.” Larry Strickland, Richard Lee, David Ponder and myself beat the road for nearly five years with a four-piece band and road crew. Bob Fortner later replaced Richard. The group played over 200 days per year and charted a few country singles in the mid-eighties.

Matthews, Wright & King (circa 1992)

After Memphis, Larry Strickland and Don Potter were working with Raymond Matthews and landed a development deal with Columbia/Sony Nashville. The label wanted to build a new Country Male Trio. Steve Buckingham was the producer for the first album and Randy Scruggs did the second. MWK opened two years for Reba McEntire, touring with Vince Gill, Brooks and Dunn, Sawyer Brown and John Michael Montgomery. We had several radio singles and a half a dozen music videos on CMT and TNN.

Prime Time Country (circa 1997)

What a hoot it was to do live or live to tape television on a daily cable show! I had the unbelievable opportunity to arrange background vocals and lead the vocal section! This photo is of the Halloween show where Tony King (or is that Stephen Hill), Regina King and I (conehead) sang “Monster Mash” with the original artist, Bobby “Boris” Pickett.

Here’s list of some of the artists that we provided
background vocals for . . . .

Ray Stevens, BJ Thomas, Sherrie Austin, Dr. Elmo, Donnie McCurkin, Amy Grant, Grandpa Jones, Mickey Gilley, Cledus T. Judd, Gary Chapman, Jean Shepard, Porter Wagoner, Charley Pride, Jimmy Sturr, Willie Nelson, Marty Raybon, Mark Collie, Gary Allan, Tom T. Hall, Steve Wariner, Michael Martin Murphy, Pinkard & Bowden, T. Graham Brown, Anita Cochran, Johnny Lee, Bill Anderson, Sara Evans, Chely Wright, Kevin Sharp, Linda Davis, Skip Ewing, Crystal Bernard, Crystal Gayle, Michael Peterson, Gary Morris, Marty Stuart, Bekka Bramlett, Lacy J. Dalton, Victoria Shaw, Billy Dean, Eddy Arnold, Daniel O’Donnell, Joy Lynn White, Carman, The Nelsons, Sawyer Brown, Doug Kershaw, Little Jimmy Dickens, Bob Carlisle, Mark Chestnutt, John Michael Montgomery, Tanya Tucker, Lulu Roman, Jake Hess, Terry Bradshaw, Pat Boone, Johnny Paycheck, Mel Tillis, Brenda Lee, Terry McMillan, Jerry Reed, Deana Carter, Percy Sledge, Sam Moore, Jaci Valesquez, Gene Watson, Lee Greenwood, Sandi Patty, Jim Ed Brown, Helen Cornelius, Susan Ashton, Larry Stewart, Pam Tillis, Holly Dunn, Kitty Wells, Larry Gatlin, Claude King, Deborah Allen, Roy Clark, Chuck Negron, Lou Rawls, Johnny Russell, Irving Burgie, Hank Cochran, Billy Joe Royal, Trace Adkins, Rodney Crowell, JoDee Messina, Kathy Troccoli, John Schneider, Tom Wopat, Jimmie C. Newman, Hank Williams III, Lari White, JoEl Sonnier, Dobie Gray, Boxcar Willie, Hank Thompson, Tiny Tim, Freddie Hart, Johnny Rodriquez, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Mandy Barnett, Rosie Flores, Webb Wilder, Paul Overstreet, Glen Campbell, Marcus Hummon, Eddie Rabbitt, Arlo Guthrie, Kenny Rogers, Vestal Goodman, Bobby Bare, Terri Clark, Mark Lowry, Connie Smith, Sam the Sham, George Hamilton IV, Ronnie Cox and more!

Ponder Sykes and Wright (circa 1997 / 2000)

With PS&W pursuing freelance studio gigs in the mid-nineties, we somehow found time and ways to work together. After the Spring Hill release in 98, we toured a little to try to support the singles that were out there. That recording was nominated for “Country Album of the Year” at the ’98 Dove Awards. The second release included David’s “Jesus Holds Your Hand” (one of the top 40 songs of the year in Singing News Magazine).

Gaither Homecoming Concerts (circa 2002)

Since the fall of 2001, I have enjoyed occasionally touring with the Gaither Homecoming Concert crew. What a joy to see the large arenas full of Gospel fans from coast to coast, and on other coasts! The Homecoming Cruises have been phenomenal, and the London/Ireland trip was a blast.

From my first note of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” at the Atlanta Homecoming to singing “Because He Lives” at the empty tomb in Jerusalem to hearing the fans in Johanesburg, South Africa call us all by our first names, being a Homecoming Friend has been an honor and a rare blessing. Plus, all the ladies in my Mother’s Sunday School class get to say “Betty, I saw Woody on TV last night!”

What people are saying . . .

“Woody is my friend — a wonderful writer and communicator of the Good News.”

Bill Gaither- Gaither Music Company

“ Woody Wright has it all. He sings. He writes. He’s Funny. And he’ll touch your heart.”

Mark Lowry – Christian Artist

“I’ve known Woody for almost five decades… He is my friend, but more than that, he is a positive light in a world that needs a light to follow.”

Duane Allen – The Oak Ridge Boys

“Woody Wright is one of the most unique and talented singer/songwriters in our industry.”

Karen Peck Gooch – Karen Peck and New River

“Woody is a wonderful singer and talented song writer. He and Vonnie gave a fantastic performance…..truly an inspiration!”

Patty Kay – Finke Theatre – California, Missouri

“We recently hosted Woody and Vonnie at our church for an all-church youth fund raiser. They communicated with the entire congregation warmly and genuinely. Their “down home” style made us feel like we’d known them for years. It was clear, they were a blessing to everyone. We can’t wait to have them come back!”

Dr. Steven Darr, Minister of Music
South Lake Wales Church of God

“As a singer, I am always on the hunt for good songs. The two Woody Wright songs Legacy Five has recorded actually say something! Both are really well written songs.”

Scott Fowler – Legacy Five

“Woody Wright wrote three of the songs and was producer for my Grammy nominated project in 2006. Everyone knows Woody as a singing songwriter. They see him on television and on the stage. They hear his distinctive voice and songs on the radio. I’d love for them to know him as I do: the producer/ arranger who motivates and inspires the artist in the studio and creates incredible records that reach across lines and find hungry hearts. In the studio Woody always reminds you of your audience. For me he has been a cheerleader, a mentor and a spiritual shoulder.”

Kenny Bishop – Grammy Nominated Gospel Artist