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The Dallas music scene loses a beloved figure: Accomplished funk, jazz and R&B performer Bernard Wright has passed at 58 years old

Wright's 1985 single "Who Do You Love" peaked at No. 6 on Billboard's R&B singles chart and was prominently sampled by LL Cool J's 1996 hit "Loungin'" single.
Credit: GRP Records
Musician Bernard Wright was a beloved member of the Dallas music community whose music was sampled by the likes of LL Cool J, Big Pun and other high-profile performers.

DALLAS — Beloved Dallas funk, jazz and R&B performer Bernard Wright died Thursday at the age of 58, according to a statement shared Friday on Facebook on behalf of Wright's family by fellow musician William S. Patterson.

Born in Queens, New York, Wright rose to national prominence with the release of "Who Do You Love," the lead single off his 1985 third LP, "Mr. Wright," and a song prominently sampled in LL Cool J's 1995 hit single, "Loungin'." 

"Mr. Wright" would go on to peak at No. 25 on Billboard's U.S. R&B Albums chart, while "Who Do You Love" would reach as high as No. 6 on the Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart and No. 44 on the Hot Dance Singles Sales chart.

The godson of powerhouse R&B singer Roberta Flack, Wright released his first album, "'Nard," at just 18 years old. 

That first LP set the table for his later successes, reaching No. 116 on the Billboard 200, No. 53 on the Billboard U.S. R&B Album chart and No. 7 on Billboard's U.S. Jazz Album chart.

As a studio musician, the multi-instrumentalist appeared on recordings from acts including Doug E. Fresh, Cameo, Bobby Brown and Miles Davis.

Internationally, his career will forever be marked, however, by the success of "Who Do You Love" -- and, perhaps even more specifically, by the extended life that song experienced as a sample within songs produced by other artists. 

While numerous songs from throughout Wright's career were sampled by artists such as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Big Pun, no other sample was quite as ubiquitous as the "Who Do You Love" one at the center of LL Cool J's laidback "Loungin'" track. 

Later in his career, Wright would turn to gospel music and release three albums under the banner of that genre before moving to North Texas and evolving into a fixture and mentor figure within the Dallas jazz, funk and R&B music communities.

A sweet and gentle soul quick with a smile and pat on the back, Wright was always humble about his many noteworthy accomplishments as he actively rubbed shoulders with and performed alongside younger musicians who aspired to one day reach his career's heights.

Throughout the '00s and early '10s, Wright would regularly sit in on keyboards among the players at the popular Monday night weekly Bad Ass Jazz series at the late Amsterdam Bar in Dallas' Exposition Park neighborhood. More recently, he would pop up as a guest performer on stage with younger generation hip-hop, jazz and R&B fusion acts such as RC & The Gritz, CoLab and Ghost-Note at Dallas venues including Deep Ellum Art Company, Prophet Bar and Three Links.

Patterson's Friday morning statement on Wright's passing reads as follows:

"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.

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."

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