October 14, 2008

Wright Kids’ Homecoming

By David Harrison [email protected] 777-3523

Sage Wright, 12, and her two brothers, Levi, 6, and Baruch, 9, spent an hour or so Saturday afternoon signing autographs for doting elderly men and women, several of whom couldn't resist pinching the children's cheeks.

Sage and Baruch, polished and poised beyond their years, made small talk. Levi concentrated on writing his name.

"That's what I've been telling him: Get used to autographs," Sage explained to a fan.

If you've been following the NBC show "America's Got Talent," you may have seen Sage, Levi and Baruch. The Rocky Mount trio made it to the final 10 contestants in the game show before coming home.

They perform under the name The Wright Kids, and they play the kind of bluegrass that calls for rapid picking more suited to adult hands than kids' fingers.

On Saturday, they performed for about 50 people in the auditorium at Franklin County High School as local dignitaries praised the kids for giving Rocky Mount and Franklin County a few minutes of fame.

"I'm bothered somewhat when they say 'The Wright Kids,' " said Franklin County Board of Supervisors Chairman Charles Wagner. "Far as I'm concerned, they've stood pretty tall in representing Franklin County and the town of Rocky Mount on national TV."

Sage wore a gray and black dress. Her brothers wore black shirts and gray ties, which Levi confessed were clip-ons.

"Oh, Levi, you're not supposed to tell everyone your tie's a clip- on," scolded Sage.

It may be a slightly disconcerting experience to see cherub- faced, sweet-voiced children sing about alienation, broken dreams and dying towns, but there's certainly something entertaining about watching a 6-year-old play a bass so tall he can barely reach the top of the fretboard.

At one point, Levi had to ask his sister to tune it for him. But he seems to have mastered the delicate art of spinning it, to the delight of the crowd.

His brother Baruch also at one point threw his guitar pick into the crowd -- then felt compelled to tell the audience what he had just done.

"Don't worry, you can keep it. I've got several others," he told somebody in the front.

The children's father, Barry Wright, said both he and his wife come from musical families. Musical talent seems to have mostly skipped over the parents and landed squarely on the Wright children, he said.

The kids and their parents returned from Los Angeles and the NBC game show recently and are now taking a short break from music lessons, said their father. It's time to focus on school; the Wright parents homeschool their children.

At some point in the future, however, Barry Wright said that little sister Selah, 4, might join the band. So far it's not clear what she would play. Perhaps the piano, Wright said.

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