Local R&B singer will host a release party for '8' at the Vanderelli Room on Friday, Aug. 16

Everyone needs a champion. For R&B singer Qamil Wright, it was producer Klarence “Tha Nphamus” Thomas, who encouraged her to record even at her lowest moments.

When Thomas passed away unexpectedly in 2017, Wright could have drawn solely from her memories of his support to stay motivated. But she had something more concrete. Last year, she stumbled upon an email with tracks Thomas had sent her before he died.

“I completely forgot about them,” she said. “It just sparked something and made me want to start writing for him. … I was like, ‘I have to find as many things that he sent me that I love, just to honor him because he believed in me so much.”

Those efforts led to Wright’s new album, 8, which features production from Thomas, Fatzondatrack, Isaac Ike Barfield, Justin Kirkpatrick, Jonathan "Kirk Diggler" Taylor and Eric Clemens. On Friday, Aug. 16., at 8 p.m., Wright will host a cocktail party and perform a record release show at the Vanderelli Room.

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The project marks Wright’s eighth year as an artist, though the past three years haven’t been as active as she’d hoped. A series of events — the death of close friend Jamaal L. Taylor, post-partum depression following the birth of her son—left the singer in distress.

“I was physically sick from stress,” Wright said. “I was in and out of the hospital and everything. The last time I got sick I was like, ‘I have to try something else or I'm going to die.’”

Wright found release in therapy, and she's taking steps to have more fun — an attitude reflected on upbeat songs like “You Go Boy,” inspired by the catchphrase from the ‘90s TV show “Martin.” (The album cover also makes use of bright colors and a dramatic font that were ubiquitous in media during the decade.)

“I am always trying to be the song and to tell a story,” she said. “For me, it's more important that people understand my words and the lyrics than me doing like a bunch of crazy [vocal] runs.”

Wright tells a story of heartbreak on “I Remember,” which navigates emotional walls, thwarted expectations and infidelity.

“I say it's my Mary J. Blige song,” Wright said of the track, which features a verse from rapper Lyrikal Goddess. “I think [it’s] really going to resonate with women.”

The album also includes Qamil’s signature, romance-driven content, such as recently released, sensual single (and video) "What We Do." But the real standout is “Oh No No.”

Accompanied only by an acoustic guitar, Wright draws listeners in, delivering acerbic lines in a sweet falsetto. “I kissed a lot of frogs and watched them turn into kings for other queens,” she sings.

But here’s the kicker: “I don’t think they knew that I really didn’t care … ‘cause I still have my music.”