Born in Abilene, Texas in 1971, Joel was brought into the world as the son of a preacher man. Not only was he the son of a preacher man but also the son of a preacher woman. Both of Joel’s parents’ Jack and JoAnn Wright were ordained ministers. At the age of three years old, Joel was caught up into a very nomadic lifestyle as his parents moved the whole family to Canada to pursue Christian ministry.
Joel’s father was a missionary pilot and successful business man who owned a wall covering business. Between business and ministry, there wasn’t much time to stay in one place for long. Constant travel became a way of life very early in Joel’s life.
At the age of five years old, Joel’s mother “JoAnn” would tell the story time and time again how as she was singing “At the Cross” in the front seat of their station wagon, Joel could be heard harmonizing with her in the backseat. JoAnn said how she didn’t want to quit singing for fear that the moment would be lost forever. However, the singing began there for Joel and music became his passion and continued throughout his young life.
After playing drums with some very well known groups, Joel began to take every opportunity to sing and eventually entered a contest at nineteen years old. The “amateur entertainer of the year” contest began in each city nationwide and the finalists then competed to be sent to the Provincial finals in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Joel competed and won his city, then he won his Province (Alberta), and ultimately took first place in the national finals to receive a recording contract for a single song album in a studio located in Nashville Tennessee. As part of the celebration, Joel then auditioned to be accepted as an entertainer for Telemiracle XV. This was a high honor back then as TV celebrities and stars from Nashville were there to introduce the entertainers to one of the biggest TV audiences of that era in Canada. Joel got accepted for the performance and the date and time was set for his debut on a national TV broadcast. When he took the stage at Telemiracle XV, Cass Winthrop (character’s name on “Another World” actor, Stephen Schnetzer) introduced him and upon finishing “At This Moment” by Billy Vera, the audience erupted in a standing ovation as the Aldridge Sisters from Nashville ushered Joel backstage. The sisters then invited Joel to meet them in Nashville and actually get the chance to meet Billy Vera in person. As time passed, it was clear that work and life would not give Joel the chance to travel to Nashville, so he recorded “At This Moment” in a studio in Edmonton and the song was played on radio stations throughout Canada and on a “current hits” sound system in shopping malls and stores throughout the nation as well.
It would be five short years later that Joel entered another national contest but this time it was for “Vocalist of the Year” and sponsored by Budweiser. Again, Joel won each contest and took first place again overall to win “Vocalist of the Year” with the exact same song he had entered with in the previous contest.
Since that time, Joel has sang and played piano for various groups and bands. In 2019, Joel’s mother, “JoAnn” passed away after battling breast cancer. Joel would say of this time that music in him also died when JoAnn did. Joel’s mother was his biggest fan and biggest inspiration in life and music. In Joel’s words… “I felt like color and music both left the world the day that Mama died.”
After grieving deeply for the better part of three years, Joel’s friend, Harvey encouraged him to sing at a karaoke show at the Moose Lodge 1640 located in Mount Vernon, WA. Joel agreed to show up and after several weeks of showing up and signing, Joel decided to dust off the piano and give playing and singing another run. After agreeing to perform a free show at that same Moose Lodge, Joel sang and played his piano for an audience of about 20 people. Within 24 hours, there had been phone calls coming in from people all across the state to schedule shows.
Joel would say many times that he did not start playing music again but that music had finally apprehended him after chasing him down for most of his life. This time, the music and the songs are coming easier than at any time before in Joel’s life. He will say now that he feels closer to his Mama than ever before and now she sings (in spirit) again with him just like in the backseat of that station wagon so many years ago!
Joel is playing piano and singing full time now and appears every week somewhere at a private club, bar, or event. Plans for other venues and performances in more places to be announced very soon.