This time last week, it was Thanksgiving. And while we were playing spades and eating turkey with all the trimmings, singer James Wright was slow dancing with a one Patti LaBelle in her kitchen in Philadelphia. Doing an impromptu duet of LaBelle’s classic “You Are My Friend,” it was like a dream come true for Wright, who just weeks earlier was singing her songs in front of a camera for his followers on social media. All the while, snacking down on what was then, one of her little-known sweet potato pies.
Of course, Wright is the man who created the frenzy over Patti LaBelle’s beloved desserts at Walmart. After being asked by some of his followers to try the cake and review it, he told us that he bought one and simply did what he always does: Posted up in front of the camera and shared his thoughts in a most entertaining way. Soon after, the video spread like wildfire and people were grabbing the pies out of Walmart to the point that the chain sold out. LaBelle’s pie were all the rage and Wright’s name, and face was all over the Internet and TV.
So with doors opening for him, what’s next for Wright? We had to know. He took some time out of his cramped schedule to share with us his background in music, the story of how that viral video came to be, if LaBelle really should cut him a check like people say, and what the future holds for the talented crooner. Here’s what we found out:
MadameNoire: Many people don’t know that before the Patti’s Pie’s video, you were cultivating quite the singing career for yourself. Can you share the work you’ve done leading up to this?
James Wright: I’ve made a numerous amount of videos, and I have sung background for artists like Nicki Minaj, Chrisette Michele, Yo-Yo, Mario and a couple of other people. So my journey and singing started years ago.
MN: What inspired you to make your review of that video? Did you think it would be a great (and funny) way to show off your vocal abilities or was the pie really that good?
JW: I was inspired to make the video because my fans asked if I could make a video to review the pie and let them know if the pie was good. The pie was actually really, really good to me and everything in the video was a live reaction, nothing more. Nothing was planned. It was raw footage and spontaneous.
MN: What did you think of the response the video received by going viral? Could you have imagined it was going to blow up like that?
JW: The response from everybody that watched the video and the fact that the video went viral was actually awesome. I didn’t know the video went viral until the next morning because my phone was broken. I did not know that this was going to take off the way it took off.
MN: What do you think of people saying, “Patti should cut him a check for all his efforts”?
JW: Everybody is saying I should be cut a check for what I did. I didn’t do the video looking to get paid. I didn’t promote the pie to get paid. I was simply doing a review and a blog that I usually do every single day. I video myself talking about different stuff and then I post them. I just feel like when you do great in God’s eye, and you sow into someone else’s ministry, all you have to do is worry about him blessing you in the end.
MN: And what are your thoughts on Patti saying that her pies were selling off the shelf before the video? Some said she was failing to see the power of social media and not giving you your just dues.
JW: I did not know about the pie before the video, or before someone told me to go out and get a Patti LaBelle pie. You know, a lot of times, people twist what other people say and make it look like somebody said something bad about you, but the one thing I do know is that Patti LaBelle is a living legend, and I love her. I’m one of her biggest fans, and I will continue to support her in all that she does whether at singing or selling pies or cooking. Like I said, I didn’t do this video for anything. I actually did it for my fans.
What doors has this video opened up for you? We saw that you were hanging with Jamie Foxx and Tank on Facebook. What’s next for you?
JW: This video has opened many, many doors for me. I have a new single coming out called “Sometimes Love.” It will be on iTunes soon. I’m just grateful for the fact that people get to see, or should I say, more people get to see who I am and what I am about. All I have to say is stay tuned.