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Overton Vertis "O. V." Wright (October 9, 1939 — November 16, 1980) was an American singer who is regarded as one of Southern soul's most authoritative and individual artists. His best known songs are "That's How Strong My Love Is" (1964), "You're Gonna Make Me Cry" (1965), "Nucleus of Soul" (1968), "A Nickel and a Nail" (1971), "I Can't Take It" (1971) and "Ace of Spades (song)" (1971).

O.V. Wright

Biography

Born in Leno, Tennessee, Wright, as a youngster, began singing in the church and later fronted a gospel music group, the Harmony Echoes. It was during this time that he was discovered (along with James Carr) by Roosevelt Jamison a songwriter and manager. Their first pop recording in 1964 was "That's How Strong My Love Is", a ballad later covered by Otis Redding and the Rolling Stones. It was issued on Goldwax, the label Wright signed to after leaving his gospel career. It was later determined that Don Robey still had him under a recording contract, due to his gospel group having recorded for Peacock. After his contract was shifted to Don Robey’s Back Beat label, further R&B hits followed. Working with record producer Willie Mitchell, success continued on songs including "The Ace of Spades" and "A Nickel and a Nail".

However, Wright was imprisoned for narcotics offences during the mid-1970s, and, despite signing for Hi Records and releasing a series of recordings, his commercial success failed to recover after his release. A continuing drug problem weakened his health and he died from a heart attack, in Mobile, Alabama at age 41.

Legacy

Wright is among the most remembered voices of soul music, perhaps mostly for being sampled frequently in hip hop music. More recently, his song, "Motherless Child" was sampled on the Ghostface Killah album Ironman on a song also called "Motherless Child." It and another Wright recording, "Let's Straighten It Out" have been published on Shaolin Soul, a compilation of tracks that have been sampled by the Wu Tang Clan and its members. "Let's Straighten It Out" was sampled in a Wu-Tang Clan song called "America" from the charity compilation album America Is Dying Slowly. "Ace of Spades" was sampled by Slim Thug and the Boss Hogg Outlawz on a song named "Recognize A Playa".