On the day of rapper Proof's funeral here in Detroit, soul singer Jaguar Wright is audibly sullen. As she talks to Metro Times via phone from her New Jersey home, she fumbles through a pile of old photographs of herself and Proof. She cries intermittently, and comments on the violence that's plaguing black communities.
"When our princes are being slain in the street, who's gonna be king? This has got to be a wake-up call because we're losing all our princes to gun violence before they even get a chance to be kings."
Wright was friends with both Proof and outspoken rapper Obie Trice, who survived a bullet wound to the head earlier this year. She feels a bit nervous about coming to Detroit this week to perform as part of an Urban Organic showcase. She's candid about feeling crushed by Proof's untimely death and admits visiting Detroit will be joyous, but also bittersweet.
"I just want to connect with really good people, spend time with friends and get some type of perspective about what's going on in that city right now."
The visit should do both Wright and the mourning Detroit music community some good. Wright who's currently touring to support her most recent album, Divorcing Neo, 2 Marry Soul has been on the fringe of stardom since the late 1990s. She cut her teeth in the Philadelphia's soul community alongside bigger acts including Jill Scott, Musiq and the Jazzyfatnastees. She's got an affectionate Motor City following and is using local musicians to back her up in each city she visits.
It's not a new concept, but she's a retro-chanteuse and wants to give local players a place in the spotlight sort of the way more than a few soul acts toured in the old days.
"Unfortunately, it's rare that local musicians get these types of opportunities anymore, so I'm hoping something beautiful comes out of it." Lord knows we could use something beautiful right about now.
9 p.m., Thursday, April 27, at Fifth Avenue Billiards, 215 W. Fifth St., Royal Oak; 248-542-9922. Fluent to open.Jonathan Cunningham is a freelance writer. Send comments to [email protected]