Healing Hearts through the Power of Music

June 29, 2020

Community Stories, Black History Month, News, Art, Dementia-Friendly Community

The UW Memory and Brain Wellness Center, in partnership with the UW Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, is honoring local efforts to help African Americans overcome the disproportionate burden of Alzheimer's. Today, we celebrate a community member for extending joy to the memory loss community through song.

Pastor Patrinell “Pat” Wright of Seattle, WA is internationally acclaimed for her role as founder and 45-year director of Total Experience Gospel Choir. As Seattle’s iconic “First Lady of the Gospel,” Pastor Wright gained recognition not only for her incredible voice and musical talent, but also for her activism in the African American community and support for victims of Hurricane Katrina. She has performed for Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, three living presidents, Carter, Clinton, and Obama…and she is the only person who can say she sang at Jimmy Hendrix's funeral! 

Pastor Wright's choir has performed in 38 states, on 5 continents and 22 countries and have shared the stage with musicians such as Ray Charles and Quincy Jones, receiving countless awards. Pastor Wright retired her choir at the 45th and final anniversary concert held in 2018 at the Moore Theater. The free concert drew over two thousand fans.

While retiring the choir, Pastor Wright’s desire to help and bring joy to others through music was as strong as ever. That year, she and former choir administrator Tia Young reached out to the UW Memory and Brain Wellness Center to see if there were ways they could help in the memory loss community. After volunteering to sing at an Alzheimer’s Café social event in Seattle’s Columbia City, Pastor Wright then shared her incredible voice and heart with guests at the 2019 Dementia Without Borders event at Peace Arch Park on the border of Washington and British Columbia.

Her special guest appearance and a stunning rendition of “Reach Out and Touch” inspired spontaneous hand-holding among the people with dementia, family members, and other advocates from both sides of the borders, and moved many to tears. Young notes, “Pastor Wright’s mode of operation has always been lifting others up, especially young people, healing hearts through the power of music, standing up for injustice, getting out there, and helping those in need.”  We celebrate her for extending joy to the memory loss community!

To learn more about Pastor Wright, watch the trailer from 2019 documentary produced and co-directed by Tia Young, Patrinell: The Total Experience which debuted at SIFF, or read her biography.


Read more in this series:

A Voice For Seattle’s Seniors: We celebrate Brenda Charles-Edwards, a local businesswoman, senior advocate, and dementia champion.

“Hope for the Heart of Our Community”:  We celebrate Karen Winston, MSW, a champion for equity in the areas of dementia and brain health.