When Laurel Wright, a Blount County native and voice of The Young Fables, lost her sister Lindy to a single-vehicle accident in January, she felt her parents’ pain along with her own.
“Losing my sister is really hard,” Laurel told The Daily Times, “but losing their daughter is a different kind of pain I’ll never understand.”
Now, just eight months later, Laurel is learning to understand another kind of pain: She is grieving the loss of her father.
Ronnie Wright, affectionately known as “Big Ron,” died unexpectedly early Wednesday of an apparent heart attack.
Ronnie was in the audience at William Blount High School when, two weeks ago, The Young Fables held an addiction awareness concert in Lindy’s memory to benefit JourneyPure Serenity Network, a Knoxville-based addiction treatment program.
Lindy’s death earlier this year devastated Ronnie, his wife, Lori, and their family, but they were not shy in the months following about discussing her struggle with addiction. They chose to honor her memory by extending help to others with that struggle.
According to Wes Lunsford, Laurel Wright’s musical and romantic partner, the family found comfort in each other.
“He loved his girls more than anything,” Lunsford said Wednesday. “He really clung to Laurel and Lori after Lindy died. They were all three peas in a pod.”
“Everybody’s in shock at the moment,” Lunsford said. “I saw him last weekend, and he seemed fine. He was a teddy bear.”
It remains to be seen if The Young Fables will still open for the Charlie Daniels Band at the Tennessee Valley Fair on Sunday. According to Lunsford, that’s Laurel’s call.
Laurel Wright first gained traction as a singer-songwriter in East Tennessee when she was only 15, and over the next several years, she opened shows for country names like Randy Houser, Kix Brooks and The Band Perry.
She was a contestant on the reality competition “American Idol,” and in 2012, she won the Texaco Country Showdown competition, which saw her claim the title of “Best New Artist in Country Music” and take home a $100,000 prize after performing at Nashville’s fabled Ryman Auditorium.
After moving to Nashville to pursue a solo career, she and guitarist Wes Lunsford put together The Young Fables in late 2015; together, they’ve released two albums, most recently “Old Songs,” which came out earlier this year.
An online GoFundMe campaign has been started by a family friend to help with funeral costs.
In the wake of a new loss for her family, the words Laurel spoke to The Daily Times in January continue to ring true.
“You just never know,” Laurel said. “You’re not promised tomorrow, so you should love on who you can love on today.”