Chely Wright released her first top twenty song, “Shut Up and Drive” in 1997. In 1999 she released her top selling record, “Single White Female” with the title track hitting number one on the Billboard country charts. 2001 brought us “Jezebel” and in 2005 her song, “Bumper of my SUV” became an anthem of the south. And on May 5th, 2010 Chely Wright came out as a lesbian. Brand new album and book in hand, she bravely went where no other country music star had gone before. Was it worth it? Did it hurt her career as much as she thought it would? Chely sits down with us and gets ranty, sappy, and even teary as we discuss the last year of her life, her upcoming appearance at Club Skirts The Dinah… and the loves of my adolescence. But it’s mostly about her, I promise.
CherryGRRL (CG): Thank you so much for talking to us again!
Chely Wright (CW): Oh, I’m happy to be talking to you. How’s your new year going so far?
CG: So far, very good. How’s yours going?
CW: Really, really well. I survived the blizzard of New York, and it looks like we’re going to get more snow in a couple more days.
CG: So you’re buried in it.
CW: It’s good. I like the snow. I’m a Midwestern girl, I like it.
CG: It’s been plain here [in Kansas City, MO] – we haven’t gotten any snow to speak of.
CW: Oh, really? I know you had some cold.
CG: It’s been cold and we got a little ice, but no snow.
CW: Aww…the Midwestern ice.
CG: Yes. Missouri loves ice. Not cool!
CW: Not cool. (laughs) I remember an ice storm when I was a kid; I think I was in 8th grade. We had an ice storm that knocked out power for 13 days and it was the 13 greatest days of my life. We had no school and my family and I played board games and heated with wood. It was great fun.
CG: Fun! I do kind of like it when the power goes out for a long time. It’s exciting.
CW: It is exciting! It’s like Little House on the Prairie.
CG: Can I just tell you how much this interview is fulfilling 11-year-old me’s dream right now?
CW: Is it really? (laughs)
CG: It so is! I want to go back and tell myself that one day I’ll get to talk to the woman who sings “Single White Female” and that it’s totally fine that I want to touch her hair.
CW: I love it! (laughs) Oh great, that’s cool. If you were here, I’d let you. I’d let you touch my hair.
CG: Well… That’s amazing and I’ve lost my train of thought. I am pretty sure the video for the song, “It Was” turned me gay. That was it.
CW: I love it! I’m glad I turned ya.
CG: Yeah, so thanks. Feel free to put that notch on your belt or whatever the proper place would be.
CW: That’s great. I was with my girlfriend in Pennsylvania for Christmas and her nephews were online with the cousins watching my videos. Nathan is 12 and he clicked on “It Was” and I said, “Nathan, not that one!” Because all of the cousins were gathered around the screen and his mom said, “Why not? Why not that one?” and I said, “I’m kind of naked in a bath tub.” She said, “Nathan, turn it off!!” My past came back to haunt me.
CG: So, how’s life been since coming out? Any regrets?
CW: No regrets whatsoever. Absolutely not. Not one bit. And I’ve had a few people say, “Do you wish you’d done it sooner?” Absolutely not. I did it exactly right, it couldn’t have been more perfect for me. I decided in 2007 to do it and it takes quite a while to write a book, and do it well, and do it the way I wanted to do it. I needed that time for emotional and spiritual fortification. I was really ready, and really as prepared as a person can be to have all of that flung upon them at once. (continued on next page)