Bio and Resume

(Photo by – Michael Logsdon 2017)

John Paul Wright  – 1970 –


John Paul Wright started playing music at an early age. He learned to play guitar from his father and uncles while growing up in the Catholic Church’s folk mass tradition. His entire Wright side of the family were/are singers at the Social Male Chorus (German American Club.) He picked up the Mandolin and Banjo, while organizing Bluegrass picking circles in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

JP started playing the Congas and  West-African Djembe in 1993. In 1994. He started volunteering with PNEUMA, an inner city arts mission as a percussion teacher. That same year he traveled to the Omega Institute for holistic healing to study with Babatunde Olatunji and then again in 1996.

In 2001, life took a turn when he found himself following in his stepfather’s family tradition and was “hired on” at the CSX railroad. JP worked for 16 years on the railroad first as a Yard Switchman, Road Freight-Conductor and then as a Locomotive Engineer. His run was the old L&N – Louisville to Nashville on the CSX mainline.  While working in the union and railroading, JP released 3 CD’s of music documenting his work.

While working on the railroad and union organizing, JP continued his world music studies by traveling to West-African djembe workshops. First with Famoudou Konate and then with Bolokada Conde. In 2015, JP was the opening musician on the Joe Hill 100 roadshow tour. In 2015 he was awarded a grant from the Kentucky Arts Council to apprentice with Kentucky banjo / folk artist Sue Massek.

In 2018, life took another turn. This time, back in time. JP is currently a crew member of the Steamer Belle of Louisville. While working as a fireman on a historic steamboat.

John Paul is taking in Ohio River, working on poetry and slowing down to take it all in.





1996 – 2001

Pigeon Nest Education Urban Ministry and Arts

Volunteer, Director

1999 – 2001 Kentucky Arts Council

Grant recipient (CAR) Community Artist in Residence.

SPLATCH (Jazz Fusion)- Congas

PRANA Percussion – Poetry, Djembe, Flutes and various percussion

2001 – 2017

CSX Transportation – Conductor / Locomotive Engineer

Union work –

Secretary of Brotherhood Of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Div. 78

National Co-Chair – Railroad Workers United

National Organizer – Railroad Workers United

Steering Committee – Teamsters for a Democratic Union

General Member and Organizer – Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W)

2015 –

Performer / Organizer – Joe Hill Roadshow 100

Kentucky Arts Council grant recipient

( Music of Kentucky’s Labor History and

Old Time Banjo Apprenticeship with

Sue Massek)

Music and Percussion study

Herbie Johnson – 1989 – Louisville

Musa Uthman – 1990 – Louisville

Babatunde Olatunji – 1994, 1996 – Omega Institute

Famoudou Konate – 2006 – Nashville, TN

Bolokada Conde – 2010, 2012, 2013 – Urbana, Il , Louisville, KY

2018 –

The Belle Of Louisville Steamboat

Deckhand . Fireman

please use the form below to contact John Paul Wright for more information or booking.