Grammy winning James ‘Big Jim’ Wright is remembered by loved ones


A nationally respected musician who called Rockford home passes away over the weekend.

James ‘Big Jim’ Wright was known to artists and fans worldwide as a Grammy winning musician, but to those who knew him best, he was a Rockfordian with a big heart who loved coming home to his family.

“I was very, very proud,” said his mother Jenniel Wright.

Saturday, Wright passed away at home. The Rockford native leaves behind many accomplishments to be proud of.  While he’s known for working with Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey, Wright is also behind songs in movies like ‘Emperor’s New Groove, Shark Tale, among many others.

“His music was just an extension of his personality,” explained Wright’s friend Carlos Woodard. “The music he created will live on forever.”

Woodard recently finished an album with Wright. He says it was a humbling experience to team up with a man who’s worked with artists like Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin and Patti LaBelle.

“He was one of the few people that made it out of Rockford that didn’t have a problem with letting people around the world know where he was from.”

His loved ones say while he’s very known for his success as a musician, he also had a big heart to match his talent.

“He was kind, he showed respect,” said cousin William ‘DJ Shad’ Bernel. “People respected him. There was never a bad thing said about him in the music industry.”

Jenniel Wright says that impact he left on those he worked with makes the pain of losing her oldest son a little easier to cope with.

“It’s a good feeling,” said Wright. “Sometimes it gets me through the day, knowing that so many people loved him.”

Woodard says despite the money and the fame, to Wright, the most important thing was coming home to his loved ones in Rockford.

“For him to be as big as he was, but he was still humble enough to move back home,” said Woodard. “That’s where his heart was, where his family was.”

To celebrate the life and legacy of  Big Jim, DJ Shad will be airing a segment in his memory on Thursday, October 11th from 7-9 p.m. on 103.7 Da Beat.

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