John Wright

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John Wright is one of the acknowledged world masters of the instrument most commonly known as a Jew's harp. The small metal or wood instrument, which has been responsible for quite a few dental injuries…
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John Wright is one of the acknowledged world masters of the instrument most commonly known as a Jew's harp. The small metal or wood instrument, which has been responsible for quite a few dental injuries in the wrong fingers, has variations throughout the world, and much of Wright's career since establishing himself has been spent not only studying these instruments, but collaborating with various international players. Wright did not become interested in his native folk music until attending the College of Art in Wolverhampton. At first he tried singing, but became interested in the Jew's harp after hearing BBC archive broadcasts of earlier players such as Angus Lawrie and Patric Devane. Eventually he would make the acquaintance of Lawrie, who would teach him quite a few tricks on the instrument.

Although generally not asked to head up his own recording date, Wright makes regular appearances on collections such as the '70s' The Lark in the Clear Air, a collection of solo and group performances on various small instruments which also involved his brothers, Micheal and David Wright. All the brothers perform on the Jew's harp, sometimes as a trio, a hobby which John introduced them to when they were wee lads and something that apparently used to drive their mother up a wall. At first John was the only brother to have continued a career in music, relocating to Paris where he carries out extensive research on the history of the Jew's harp. He frequently studies and makes use of the collection of these instruments at the Paris Musee de l'Homme. Later projects include performing on a compilation organized by the Dutch Jew's harp player Phons Bakx, as well as presenting a workshop on vocal overtones alongside Vietnamese Jew's harp player Tran Quang Hai in Paris in 2000. But the younger Wright brothers must have felt some kind of a phantom buzzing in their teeth after several decades of relative inactivity on the international Jew's harp scene. In the early '90s, Michael Wright recalled feeling a lack of something in a life in which music had been relegated to an occasional local party or night out, leading to a reunion of the brothers for a Jew's harp ensemble concert in Paris in 1993.