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Anthoney Wright

February 2009

IT'S a bizarre 30 years he's had.
Raised by his grandparents, playing sport against Andy Cole, clubbing with Samantha Morton, living in a monastery for six weeks in front of TV cameras and judging a Miss World heat in Bangkok... welcome to the world of Anthoney Wright.
Let's start at the very beginning.
Where was he born?
"In the hospital," he guffaws.
"I grew up on Burford Road in Forest Fields and went to Stanley Junior School then Forest Comprehensive on Gregory Boulevard.
"I was a bit of sportsman. I remember running against Andy Cole. He was a bit of a rival but it was friendly rivalry. We used to run for the city at one point."
He was raised by his grandmother because his parents were "out and about and travelling".
"I had a very difficult relationship with my mother. I wouldn't use the word abandoned but mother had other priorities basically and my grandmother took control of me as a baby.
"I always had a house, food, clothes... but it was emotionally beating me up. My grandmother and grandfather and aunts made me feel loved."
He adds: "My philosophy is -- I'm a Buddhist now -- people so often look at their past life and blame this person or blame that person. But you can change it and make it positive."
He moved to the Arboretum then ten years ago followed an aunt to London.
His first experience of music had come from his grandfather, who was a pirate radio DJ in Nottingham.
"He had such a vast amount of records. Whenever you walked in to the house there was music playing. He used to take me to a studio in the Marcus Garvey Centre.
"He always encouraged it. When I was doing some dance records with A Man Called Adam he'd give me the money to catch the train to London."
Despite his grandfather's death, when he left school Anthoney enrolled on a music course at Newark college.
He was mates with Mark Gamble and Cassius Campbell who'd had the No. 3 hit in 1987 with House Arrest (The Beat is the Law) as Krush. And DJ Graeme Park who he'd follow in to legendary city clubs The Garage and Venus.
"Samantha Morton used to hang out with us quite a lot. I've bumped into her a few times down here. I like Samantha because she keeps her feet very firmly on the ground."
In London he worked in marketing nine to five but on the side carried on making music, eventually appearing on the Basement Jaxx 2003 album Kish Kash, singing on the tracks Right Here's The Spot and Supersonic.
But his biggest taste of success came two years later on The Monastery, a reality TV experiment on BBC Two, where five people spent six weeks in Worth Abbey.
"That was quite bizarre," he admits.
"I'd gone out to a Cartier Polo match with a friend and I'd had a ball.
"Scarlett Johansson and a lot of stars were there and I'd got rather drunk. The next day I woke up and thought 'there's got to be more to life than this'.
"On the Wednesday I got an email from a friend telling me about the programme. I met them a few days later and by the next week I was in the monastery.
"They wanted five guys from different backgrounds to see how they'd deal with day-to-day life in a monastery, getting up at five in the morning, doing services, Bible studies...
"There was a Protestant, a Druid, the public school boy and a guy who worked behind the scenes in the porn industry."
But it wasn't the experience that turned him on to Buddhism.
After leaving the show and through a friend he met the president of Miss Universe in the US.
"She invited me to be a judge in Bangkok. While there I started going to a lot of temples."
Back in London, he met a girl in a bar, they started dating and, as it turned out, she was living in a Buddhist centre.
"It's not a religion, it's a way of life," he says.
"It's about mind training, having compassion, keeping your feet firmly on the ground... a lot of really good teachings."
He didn't see the Dalai Lama when he came to Nottingham last year but did see him in London.
But his heart was still set on music. Three years ago he was heard singing in a bar by Ian Wright, founder of Reverb Music, who signed him up for a publishing deal. Prior to his death in July 2007, Wright left instructions to his family to help Anthoney's career.
The result is Feet On The Ground, an album of original songs that err towards classic soul and Motown.
"There's a bit of Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass and Sam & Dave, there's a bit of Prince, Macy Gray and to a degree Aerosmith," he laughs.
"It's an amalgamation of influences I had as a child."
The first single from it, Reset To Zero, was released at the end of last year.
"It's about trying to embrace people. It doesn't matter where you come from or what's happened to you, the clock can be reset. You can turn your life around."

Follow-up single No Me Without You is released February 23. The album Feet On The Ground is due out in March.

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