Towleroad.com is reporting today that, after weeks of speculation, it will be Country singer Chely Wright coming out in this week’s issue of People magazine. While coming out stories seem to be popping up more and more frequently, this one should be interesting to watch develop.
The TMZ quote that Towleroad cites that “Wright is the first major Country artist ever to come out”, and several commenters argued that kd lang should be given that distinction. However, kd never had a big hit on the Country charts, with “I’m Down to My Last Cigarette” and “Full Moon Full of Love” being her only two top 40 Country hits at #21 and #22 respectively. Chely had a massive #1 record with “Single White Female”, which was pretty much everywhere Country music was played in 1999. Her most recent hit came in 2005 with “The Bumper of My SUV”, a powerful song that questioned the black and white responses to the war in Iraq. Chely caught a LOT of flak for this song from both sides of the debate because she wasn’t fully on one side or the other, but I respected her that much more for allowing gray into an otherwise black and white debate. The video below tells the whole story.
I have been a fan of Chely’s since the mid-90s, when “Shut Up and Drive”, her first Country top 20 record, proved to be my mantra after the breakup of my first serious relationship. Chely doesn’t have a problem fitting into the mainstream when she wants to, but there’s always a bit more depth to her music than many of her contemporaries, and the personal connection is usually quite evident. For me, one of the big missteps of her career was “Jezebel”, which was written by Jay DeMarcus from Rascal Flatts. It was kind of a fun song, but it sure didn’t strike me as Chely Wright song. I would much rather you listen to a song like “I Already Do” which connects much more directly with the listener. For some more highlights of her career, you have to check out Kevin’s recap at Country Universe.
So who knows how this plays out, but I wish her well. There have been a few country artists that have been out in the business without being out in public, so I don’t know that you can draw any full-fledged comparisons between them and Chely. Hopefully the people who have known and worked with Chely behind the scenes will continue to visibly support her now that she’s done keeping up a facade simply to be more widely accepted. If the first single from her new album Lifted Off the Ground that comes out this week is any indication, she’s got a lot of potential hits left in her.