Gospel, blues artist Marva Wright dead at 62

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans blues and gospel singer Marva Wright, 62, died Tuesday, her former manager said.

Adam Shipley confirmed that Wright died of complications from a stroke she suffered last year.

She sang traditional jazz and gospel standards but was better known for sultry, sometimes bawdy blues songs. Among her best known songs were “Heartbreakin’ Woman” and “Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean.”

She released a series of albums on local and international record labels, and frequently performed in Europe and at blues festivals around the country. With her band, the BMWs, she drew large crowds for performances at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

As a child, Wright listened to her mother sing and play piano at church. Among her childhood memories were visits to Chicago, the adopted home of New Orleans gospel great Mahalia Jackson, who had grown up with Wright’s mother.

“My mother would go to the national Baptist convention,” Wright once said, according to an account in The Times-Picayune newspaper. “When it convened in Chicago, Mahalia would say, ‘Girl, you don’t need to get no hotel. Stay with me.’ That’s what my mother would do. I met Mahalia when I was 9 years old, but I never realized she was that popular until I got older.”

But Wright didn’t start singing professionally until she was almost 40, according to a biography on her Web site.

Wright was hospitalized last June after suffering a serious stroke following a gig at the CoCo Club on Bourbon Street. Relatives said then that she had just recovered from an earlier, less serious stroke.

On the Net:

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