Bernard Wright, funk, jazz and soul musician and godson of R&B icon Roberta Flack, has died at 58.
News of the tragic death was revealed in a statement by musician and member of their trio, The Jamaica Boys, William “Spaceman” Patterson on May 19. The cause of death was not disclosed.
“On behalf of the family of Bernard Wright (Nard), We are saddened to announce that yesterday Bernard has been called home to the Most High,” wrote Patterson.
“Many thanks for everyone’s support, encouragement, and prayers for Nard throughout the years. Please keep the family in your thoughts and prayers through this difficult time. Our hearts are heavy and our faith is strong. To be absent from the body is to be present with The Lord! LOVE! Rest In Power, Nard.”
A talented keyboardist and singer-songwriter, Wright was best known for his 1985 hit single Who Do You Love as well as various samples taken from his music and made popular to later generations. Wright was only 18 years old when releasing his debut album ‘Nard in 1981, where he played keyboards, synthesizer, piano, melodica, and vocals. It reached No. 7 on the U.S. top jazz album charts.
Born and raised in Jamaica, Queens, New York, on Nov. 16, 1963, the funk star’s music came to be frequently sampled in the 90s. Rappers including LL Cool J used Who Do You Love in a 1995 remix of his single Loungin’; Snoop Dogg used Haboglabotribin for his 1993 hit G’z and Hustlas; Yo-Yo and Ice Cube sampled Wright’s Master Rocker for their 1993 chart-topper The Bonnie and Clyde Theme; and Skee-Lo’s No. 1 single I Wish was made possible by the funk musician’s Spinnin‘.
Through his career, Wright was also featured on other musicians’ iconic hits, including the likes of Miles Davis, Bobby Brown, Cameo, Marcus Miller, Charles Earland, Doug E. Fresh, and Miami Mike Devine Pennington, among others.
In 1983, he released the Funky Beat album and Mr. Wright in 1985, home to his hit single Who Do You Love.
Last night, my godson and former musical director, Bernard Wright, passed away suddenly. I loved Bernard very much and believed deeply in his talent. His loss is heartbreaking. pic.twitter.com/G0VhkHgec3
— Roberta Flack (@Roberta_Flack) May 21, 2022
An outpour of love and support for Wright’s family flooded Twitter the day of the announcement.
Black Enterprise expresses our deepest condolences to Wright’s family and friends.
I’m broken-hearted to hear that Bernard Wright has passed away. I loved loved loved that ‘Nard album SO hard. His music was a huge influence on me. “Who Do You Love” ALONE shaped so much of how I approach writing/recording/arranging. R.I.P. to this king. pic.twitter.com/9zXY0zf53j
— Sy Smith (@Syberspace) May 20, 2022
RIP Bernard Wright. Even his album deep cuts were bops. https://t.co/dSGhWsEqGP
— Lemu. (@lmckr) May 20, 2022