Chely Wright rose to fame as a commercial country singer in the 90’s, having released eight studio albums selling more than 1,000,000 copies in the U.S. and charted more than 15 singles on the Billboard charts. On the strength of her debut album in 1994, the Academy of Country Music named Chely Top New Female Vocalist of 1995. Her first hit came in 1997 with “Shut Up and Drive” followed two years later by her first number one single, “Single White Female” and in 2005, the zeitgeist – capturing hit “The Bumper of My S.U.V.”
Chely just completed a new studio album titled I Am The Rain, recorded at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles featuring guest performances by Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell and the Milk Carton Kids. Produced by renowned musician and producer Joe Henry (Bonnie Raitt, Elvis Costello, Loudon Wainwright III, Ani DiFrano, Betty LaVette), the much anticipated album will be released in autumn of 2016.
In 2010, Chely Wright released her eighth album, “Lifted Off the Ground” produced by Rodney Crowell, revealing a dramatic artistic transformation and emerging as a singer songwriter of the first order. The album would never have come to be were it not for an equally dramatic personal transformation which she candidly and painstakingly documented in a memoir entitled “Like Me” published by Random House the same day. Chely made history by being the first country music star to come out publicly as gay. Wright has cited among her reasons for coming out a concern with bullying and hate crimes toward LGBT people, particularly LGBT youth, and the damage to her life caused by "hiding".
In the midst of a tumultuous political climate about the civil rights of the LGBT community, the 2011 award-winning documentary “Wish Me Away” was released. The critically acclaimed film chronicles Chely Wright’s journey growing up and then moving to Nashville to become a country singer. It portrays her preparing for the day she comes out publically and then depicts the aftermath of her decision.
Chely Wright’s soul-searching has led to many rewards. The LGBT role model serves as the national spokesperson for the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and speaks out against school bullying. Wright founded The LIKEME® Organization, a nonprofit organization that provides assistance, resources and education to LGBT individuals and their family & friends. Wright also founded The LIKEME® Lighthouse, an education and community center for gay youth in Kansas City, MO. The Lighthouse recently celebrated its fourth anniversary with a sold out fundraising gala at the Folly Theater featuring Wanda Sykes, Judy Gold, Wendy Liebman and Steve Grand.
Chely Wright is married to activist and author Lauren Blitzer-Wright, who is currently Director of Marketing for Sony Entertainment. As of 2013, the two became parents to twin boys. In December 2014, Wright performed an original Christmas carol at the annual National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony on the White House lawn in Washington, DC with President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.