Gospel Legend, Timothy Wright Dies at 61

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The Rev. Timothy Wright, the Grammy-nominated gospel singer and composer known for his up-tempo praise songs and powerful mass choir sound, has died. He was 61.

Wright, who was seriously injured in a car crash that killed his wife and grandson, died early Thursday at the Bronx Veterans Hospital, music agent Will Bogle said.

Timothy Wright was the pastor at Grace Tabernacle Christian Center Church of God in Christ, located in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn. He released more than a dozen gospel recordings, writing many of the songs. His latest album, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” came out in 2007.

In 1994, his record “Come Thou Almighty King,” with the New York Fellowship Mass Choir, made the Billboard Top 20 charts for gospel albums and was nominated for a Grammy for best traditional soul gospel album.

He got another nomination in that category in 1999 for “Been There Done That,” recorded with the B/J Mass Choir and featuring Myrna Summers.

“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” features the New York Fellowship Mass Choir. The title track, written by Wright and his wife and recorded live at a Church of God in Christ convocation, expresses the plight of a woman displaced during Hurricane Katrina: She encourages herself and others by calling the name of Jesus. Among the other songs on the album was “You Must Come In At the Door.”

According to the book “Uncloudy Days: The Gospel Encyclopedia,” by Bil Carpenter, the Brooklyn-born Wright began playing piano for his local church at age 12 and also began composing at a young age.

By his early 20s, he was music director at Brooklyn’s Washington Temple Church of God in Christ.

He began writing songs for such fellow musicians as Mattie Moss Clark and the Rev. Isaac Douglas, according to Carpenter’s book, and in 1976 formed the Timothy Wright Concert Choir. Among the choir’s albums were “Who’s on the Lord’s Side?” and “Do You Know the Light?”

Wright was critically injured July 4 in a three-vehicle crash on Interstate 80 near Loganton, Pa. Another car was going the wrong way when it struck Wright’s car.

His wife, Betty Wright, 58, was killed in the crash, and their 14-year-old grandson, D.J. Wright, died later at a hospital.

The driver of the wrong-way car, John Pick, also was killed, while a passenger in a third car was injured.

The Wrights were returning from a Church of God in Christ conference in Detroit, said Leroy Johnson, a trustee at Grace Tabernacle.

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