Over the 25 years I’ve worked as a photojournalist, I’ve photographed Pastor Patrinell Wright and the Total Experience Gospel Choir literally hundreds of times. Pat and the TEGC seemed to be at almost every event I covered. They sang at the annual July 4 Naturalization Ceremony at Seattle Center, the gathering of Black families called the ROOTS Family Celebration, the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at Garfield High School — basically any meaningful event in Seattle, Pat and her choir were there.
When they weren’t performing in Seattle, they were traveling, singing gospel all over the United States and 22 countries. They sang the national anthem for Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, and were backup singers for Heart and the Dave Matthews Band. That alone would make Pat Wright’s legacy meaningful, but she and the choir didn’t just sing. They served the community.
For years following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Pat and the Choir traveled to New Orleans to volunteer. They returned half a dozen times to the Lower Ninth Ward, both helping to rebuild the community and singing gospel.
Patrinell Wright impacted so many people’s lives in Seattle and the world. Her legacy will live on for generations. Anyone lucky enough to see Patrinell Wright and the Total Experience Gospel Choir perform was blessed by the experience. I can happily say I was one of the lucky ones.
Susan Fried is a 40-year veteran photographer. Her early career included weddings, portraits, and commercial work — plus, she’s been The Skanner News’ Seattle photographer for 25 years. Her images have appeared in the University of Washington’s The Daily, The Seattle Globalist, Crosscut, and many more. She’s been an Emerald contributor since 2015. Follow her on Instagram @fried.susan.
📸 Featured Image: Pat Wright and the Total Experience Gospel Choir performed at the Fourth Annual Gospel Extravaganza at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral on Oct. 25, 2008.
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