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Barbara Wright-Pryor

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Information about Barbara Wright-Pryor

Profile image of Barbara Wright-Pryor

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
School Counselor
Classical Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green, Pink
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Southern California
Favorite Quote:
You Can Do Anything That You Want To Do. It Takes Work.

Birthplace

Born:
5/30/1934
Birth Location:
Stamps, Arkansas

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
School Counselor
Classical Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green, Pink
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Southern California
Favorite Quote:
You Can Do Anything That You Want To Do. It Takes Work.

Birthplace

Born:
5/30/1934
Birth Location:
Stamps
See how Barbara Wright-Pryor is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Classical soloist, educator, and music critic Barbara Wright-Pryor was born Barbara Wright in Stamps, Arkansas, to Bernyce Eleanor Hayes Wright and Joseph Dudley Wright. Growing up in Chicago’s Ida B. Wells Projects, she idolized Marian Anderson. Wright-Pryor attended Willard School and graduated from Wendell Phillips Elementary and High Schools in 1951. A mezzo-contralto, Wright-Pryor studied voice as she pursued an undergraduate degree from Roosevelt University, Chicago State University, and the Chicago Conservatory of Music, where she majored in vocal performance. She received her M.A. degree, magna cum laude, from Roosevelt University.

As a mezzo-contralto recitalist and soloist of oratorio, her first performance was with the Dorian Choral Ensemble. In 1961, she performed with Irving Bunton’s Chicago Concert Chorale. Duke Ellington featured the group in his 1963 My People musical revue, celebrating the accomplishments of Blacks in the one hundred years since Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1968, Wright-Pryor was choral director for Ellington’s Sacred Concert. Over the years, Wright-Pryor has performed with the members of Chicago’s Lyric Opera, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, South Shore Philharmonic, Southside Family Chamber Orchestra and String Quartet, and the Chicago Park District Orchestra. Her concert stage performances have featured Sir Michael Tippett’s A Child of Our Time; Rossini’s Stabat Mater; J. S. Bach’s Cantata No. 54 for Contralto and Orchestra, Christmas Oratorio, and Mass in B Minor; Handel’s Messiah and the works of Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Verdi. Wright-Pryor has performed Saul of Tarsus by Betty Jackson King, and in addition to Betty Jackson King, composers Rollo Dilworth, Barry K. Elmore, Robert L. Morris and Howard Savage have dedicated compositions to her. For the 1998 Sixteenth International Duke Ellington Conference, Wright-Pryor served as producer/director and vocalist to restage Ellington’s lost 1963 My People musical revue. Her musical accomplishments were achieved while serving for thirty-five years as counselor-educator with the Chicago Public Schools and adjunct professor at DePaul University.

A charter member of the Community Advisory Council of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO), Wright-Pryor helps monitor the CSO’s progress in achieving its diversity agenda. She also serves on the Artistic Planning Committee of the Chicago Symphony. Wright-Pryor is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and for over a decade, she has been president of the Chicago Music Association, which was founded as the first branch of the National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc. in 1919. Wright-Pryor was honored by the Society for the Advancement of the Vivian G. Harsh Collection of Afro-American History and Literature of the Chicago Public Library in 1999, and they have requested her papers. She was inducted into Wendell Phillips Elementary and High Schools’ Hall of Fame and received an honorary Doctor of Music degree in 1999. An expert and critic of African American contributions to classical music, Wright-Pryor serves as the classical music critic for the Chicago Crusader.

A soloist at Northfield Community and St. Mark United Methodist Churches, Wright-Pryor is married to organist George Williams.

See how Barbara Wright-Pryor is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Barbara Wright-Pryor's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Barbara Wright-Pryor lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Barbara Wright-Pryor describes her mother's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Barbara Wright-Pryor describes her mother's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Barbara Wright-Pryor describes her mother's education in Hope, Arkansas
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Barbara Wright-Pryor describes her mother's education at Arkadelphia Presbyterian Academy
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Barbara Wright-Pryor describers her maternal uncles
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Barbara Wright-Pryor describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Barbara Wright-Pryor describes her family's connection with Maya Angelou
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Barbara Wright-Pryor describes Maya Angelou's family in Stamps, Arkansas, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Barbara Wright-Pryor describes Maya Angelou's family in Stamps, Arkansas, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Barbara Wright-Pryor describes how her parents met
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Barbara Wright-Pryor describes her family's musical heritage
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Barbara Wright-Pryor describes her family's move to Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Barbara Wright-Pryor reflects upon the negative portrayal of Stamps, Arkansas
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Barbara Wright-Pryor describes her earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Barbara Wright-Pryor recalls her homes in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Barbara Wright-Pryor describes her parents' separation
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Barbara Wright-Pryor describes her parents' professions in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Barbara Wright-Pryor remembers the community in the Ida B. Wells Homes, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Barbara Wright-Pryor describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Barbara Wright-Pryor remembers the community in the Ida B. Wells Homes, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Barbara Wright-Pryor remembers Chicago's Wendell Phillips Elementary School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Barbara Wright-Pryor remembers Chicago's Wendell Phillips High School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Barbara Wright-Pryor describes her high school extracurricular activities
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Barbara Wright-Pryor reflects upon her high school experience in Chicago
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Barbara Wright-Pryor remembers hearing William Warfield sing
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Barbara Wright-Pryor describes her marriage and college education
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Barbara Wright-Pryor remembers Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Barbara Wright-Pryor describes how voices change with age
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Barbara Wright-Pryor recalls her performances in the Chicago church circuit
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Barbara Wright-Pryor remembers working with Duke Ellington, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Barbara Wright-Pryor remembers working with Duke Ellington, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Barbara Wright-Pryor recalls recreating Duke Ellington's 'My People', pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Barbara Wright-Pryor recalls recreating Duke Ellington's 'My People', pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Barbara Wright-Pryor shares the history of the Chicago Music Association, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Barbara Wright-Pryor shares the history of the Chicago Music Association, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Barbara Wright-Pryor recalls her work with Theodore Charles Stone
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Barbara Wright-Pryor describes Theodore Charles Stone's career
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Barbara Wright-Pryor describes the history of African American composers
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Barbara Wright-Pryor describes how African American composers were ignored
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Barbara Wright-Pryor explains the differences between jazz and classical music
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Barbara Wright-Pryor lists her favorite composers and genres of music
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Barbara Wright-Pryor describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Barbara Wright-Pryor reflects upon her life
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Barbara Wright-Pryor reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Barbara Wright-Pryor talks about her children
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Barbara Wright-Pryor recalls a former student at George T. Donoghue Elementary School
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Barbara Wright-Pryor describes how she would like to be remembered