|Occupation||singer-songwriter, author, producer, activist|
|Children||George Samuel and Everett Joseph|
Richell Rene "Chely" Wright (born October 25, 1970, in Kansas City, Missouri) is an American country music artist who released her debut album in 1994. Although she received an Academy of Country Music award for Top New Female Vocalist that same year, none of her initial songs made a significant impact on the charts. In 1997, Chely had her first Top 40 country hit, "Shut Up and Drive". Two years later, she scored her first #1 single with "Single White Female". Overall, Wright has released seven studio albums on various labels, and has charted more than fifteen singles on the country charts. She has also written songs for Brad Paisley, Richard Marx, Mindy Smith and a top 10 hit for Clay Walker, "I Can't Sleep". Chely will release her memoir, Like Me, and a new album, Lifted Off The Ground, on May 4, 2010. In advance of her new album and book, Wright came out publicly as a homosexual and appeared on the NBC Today Show to discuss her "coming out of the closet." 
A native Kansan, Chely grew up in a musical family. At age 11, Chely began to sing with local bands and eventually started her own called "County Line." Before graduating high school, she took a job with the Ozark Jubilee, a long running country show in Branson, Missouri. Taking the advice of her grandfather, she auditioned and landed a position in a musical production at Opryland USA. While staying in Nashville, Chely interned and attended writers' nights, while honing her singing and songwriting. In 1992, she was signed by Harold Shedd to Mercury/Polygram, and her first album was released in 1994 on the corporation's Polydor label. Chely attended Middle Tennessee State University.
Wright was romantically linked with Brad Paisley at one time.
On May 3, 2010, People magazine reported that Wright had stated that she is a lesbian. This makes Wright the first major country music artist to come out as gay according to the New York Daily News and the Boston Herald.
She was quoted in People as saying, "There had never, ever been a country music artist who had acknowledged his or her homosexuality, I wasn't going to be the first."
But now she has changed her tune. "Nothing in my life has been more magical than the moment I decided to come out," she says.
Recalling her youth in the South: "I don't have a memory in my life that doesn't include the dream of making music." But during her childhood and rapid ascent to fame in the county world, she also experienced a community in which homosexuality was shunned. "I hid everything for my music," says Wright.
Canadian singer-songwriter k.d. lang was active in country music in the 1980s and came out as a lesbian in the early 1990s, but had not gained mainstream acceptance in the genre and had moved to pop music.
Chely Wright announced that her memoir, Like Me, will be released on May 4, 2010 through Random House. She has been working on the book for nearly three years.
Chely Wright is the founder of Reading, Writing, and Rhythm Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to the importance of musical education in America's schools and helps supply musical instruments and equipment. A large fund raiser is held each year in June at Nashville, Tennessee's Wildhorse Saloon, (just before CMA Music Festival).
- 1994: Woman in the Moon
- 1996: Right in the Middle of It
- 1997: Let Me In
- 1999: Single White Female
- 2001: Never Love You Enough
- 2003: 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Chely Wright
- 2004: Everything
- 2005: The Metropolitan Hotel
- 2005: Connect Set (Digital EP)
- 2007: The Definitive Collection
- 2008: The Ultimate Collection
- 2010: Lifted Off the Ground
- Chely Wright : Biography. CMT.com (2005). Retrieved on 2008-06-20.
- Chely Wright to announce she’s a lesbian. Boston Herald (May 3, 2010). Retrieved on 3 May 2010.
- Country Music Artist Chely Wright Comes Out. People.com. People Magazine (May 3, 2010). Retrieved on 3 May 2010.
- Roberts, Soraya (May 2, 2010). Country singer Chely Wright set to announce she is lesbian in next People Magazine: report. NY Daily News. Retrieved on 2 May 2010.
- Bonaguro, Alison. "Will Chely Wright's Homosexuality Make Her Music Any Different?", Country Music Television, May 3, 2010. Retrieved on May 3, 2010.
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