Although mainstream recognition has been elusive, his albums have gotten a lot of love from music critics as well as the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences — he’s racked up quite a few Grammy nominations over the years.
In addition to performing, Saadiq is also a renowned producer, having worked with Joss Stone, Whitney Houston, the Roots, Q-Tip, the Bee Gees, D’Angelo, and Erykah Badu, whose “Love of My Life” stopped a Susan Lucci-like streak of Grammy futility. ’s first single featured brought the Tonys their first taste of pop success with the Top Ten hit “Feels Good” and also found them evolving as musicians, songwriters and producers.
That disc, with its uncanny extrapolations on the traditional mid-’60s Motown sound, created quite a sensation and brought Saadiq a whole new audience—mostly young, mostly white folks who frankly were unaware of his long and illustrious history dating back to the smash late ’80s, early ’90s Oakland soul and new jack swing group Tony! No doubt many of the audiences who saw him play huge festivals such as Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, and Bumbershoot (he’s playing Coachella and South By Southwest this year) thought he was a new artist who’d just stepped off a bus from Detroit in 1965.
The crowds ate it up—loved the tight-fitting yellow suit he often wore, loved the Temptations dance moves, loved that smooth, elastic voice that moves so easily into Marvin Gaye/Eddie Kendricks territory but still sounds original—and Europe and Japan both fell in love with him, as well.
In 1969, Wright worked as a copyist for notable musical arrangers such as Charles Stepney, Gene Barge, Donny Hathaway and Richard Evans.
Concurrently, Wright performed with Pieces of Peace, a group of musicians who recorded music sessions for Jackie Wilson, The Chi-Lites, Jerry Butler, Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions.
He currently serves as the bleditor-in-chief of and the co-host of the Blerd Radio Podcast.
The name Raphael Saadiq still probably isn’t familiar to the average casual music fan, but that shouldn’t discount the fact that the Bay Area native has been perhaps the most consistent R&B singer/songwriter/producer of recent times. Over the course of four well-regarded albums, that group evolved into the last great R&B band of the modern era and helped kick off the “neo-soul” era.Benjamin Wright embarked on his first major musical tour with rhythm and blues icon Ted Taylor.His subsequent success within the industry took him on the road with James Brown, Otis Redding, Billy Stewart and Gladys Knight and The Pips.In 1975, Wright moved to Los Angeles, California, and became the musical director for The Temptations, Gladys Knight and The Pips, Aretha Franklin, and Barry White and The Love Unlimited Orchestra.In 1979, Wright acted as the string arranger for Michael Jackson’s first solo album, Off the Wall, where he met producer Quincy Jones. He’s had the privilege on working with notable artists such as Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Outkast, Donny Hathaway, The Temptations, Earth, Wind & Fire, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, Jamiroquai, and Gladys Knight, to name a few.