(Photo by – Michael Logsdon 2017)
John Paul Wright – 1970 –
John Paul Wright started playing music early in life. He learned to play guitar from his father and uncles while growing up in the Catholic Church’s folk mass tradition. His entire Wright side of the family were/are singers at Social Male Chorus (German American Club.) He picked up the Mandolin and Banjo, while organizing Bluegrass picking circles in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.
JP started playing the Congas and West-African Djembe in 1993. In 1994. He started volunteering with PNEUMA, an inner city arts mission as a percussion teacher. That same year he traveled to the Omega Institute for holistic healing to study with Babatunde Olatunji and then again in 1996.
In 2001, life took a turn when he found himself following in his stepfather’s family tradition and was “hired on” at the CSX railroad. JP worked for 16 years on the railroad first as a Yard Switchman, Road Freight-Conductor and then as a Locomotive Engineer. His run was the old L&N – Louisville to Nashville on the CSX mainline. While working in the union and railroading, JP released 3 CD’s of music documenting his work.
While working on the railroad and union organizing, JP continued his world music studies by traveling to West-African djembe workshops. First with Famoudou Konate and then with Bolokada Conde. In 2015, JP was the opening musician on the Joe Hill 100 roadshow tour. In 2015 he was awarded a grant from the Kentucky Arts Council to apprentice with Kentucky banjo / folk artist Sue Massek.
In 2018, life took another turn. This time, back in time. JP is currently a crew member of the Steamer Belle of Louisville. While working as a deckhand on a historic steamboat, John Paul is taking in Ohio River, working on poetry and slowing down to take it all in.
John Paul lives in Middletown, Kentucky with his wife Donna, son Jonah and a brown lab named Duk.
1996 – 2001
Pigeon Nest Education Urban Ministry and Arts
1999 – 2001 Kentucky Arts Council
Grant recipient (CAR) Community Artist in Residence.
SPLATCH (Jazz Fusion)- Congas
PRANA Percussion – Poetry, Djembe, Flutes and various percussion
2001 – 2017
CSX Transportation – Conductor / Locomotive Engineer
Union work –
Secretary of Brotherhood Of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Div. 78
National Co-Chair – Railroad Workers United
National Organizer – Railroad Workers United
Steering Committee – Teamsters for a Democratic Union
General Member and Organizer – Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W)
Performer / Organizer – Joe Hill Roadshow 100
Kentucky Arts Council grant recipient
( Music of Kentucky’s Labor History and
Old Time Banjo Apprenticeship with
Music and Percussion study
Herbie Johnson – 1989 – Louisville
Musa Uthman – 1990 – Louisville
Babatunde Olatunji – 1994, 1996 – Omega Institute
Famoudou Konate – 2006 – Nashville, TN
Bolokada Conde – 2010, 2012, 2013 – Urbana, Il , Louisville, KY
The Belle Of Louisville Steamboat
please use the form below to contact John Paul Wright for more information or booking.