Richelle Renee "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 ACM
award for Top New Female Vocalist that same year, none of her initial songs made 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
"; she has also won a BMI award for co-writing Clay Walker
's 2003 single "I Can't Sleep
", which she also provided harmony vocals on.
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, MO
. 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.
As a commercial artist
After releasing two unsuccessful albums through Mercury/Polygram, Wright asked to be released from her contract and later signed with MCA Nashville. Here, she had her first top twenty country hit in 1997
with the song "Shut Up and Drive," off her third album, "Let Me In
", which was released by MCA Nashville
. In 1999, her fourth album, "Single White Female
", brought her several hit songs and her first gold album certification. While working on her next album, Wright collaborated with fellow country artist Brad Paisley
on a duet entitled "Hard to Be a Husband, Hard to Be a Wife," which was written for the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Grand Ole Opry
. Paisley and Wright performed the song during a CBS
television special and it was released as part of a collection of songs from that special. The duet was later nominated for Vocal Event Of The Year as part of the 35th Annual CMA Awards. Additionally, Wright joined with Diamond Rio
for a song on their One More Day
album, as well as Paisley's Part II
album. Both were released in 2001. Chely was also featured in People
magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" in 2001.
She was recognized by MENC in 2001 with its "Stand Up For Music Award" . Later that year, Wright released the first single from her fifth studio album, "Never Love You Enough". The release marked a sexier side to Chely with the growing fad of sexy country singers (i.e. Shania Twain). The album was originally scheduled to be released on September 11, 2001 but due to current events, the album date was pushed back to September 25. Although Never Love You Enough debuted at #4 on the Billboard Country Albums chart, it was unable to match the success of Single White Female. Many speculated that the album's poor performance was due to the recent tragic events of 9/11 and the country's shift towards patriotic music.
In 2002 Chely was presented with the MEMC's "Fame Award" for her Reading, Writing and Rhythm Foundation. Later that year, she was ranked #93 on the FHM "100 Sexiest Women of 2002and later that year was ranked #18 of "The 20 Hottest Women in Music 2002. In 2003, she was named "Woman of the Year" by the American Legion Auxiliary and "Kansan of the Year" for her career achievements, her charity work and her support of the U.S. armed forces.
As an independent artist
In 2003, Chely parted ways with MCA Nashville after "Never Love You Enough" failed to meet sales expectations. In January 2004, she signed with a new independent label, Vivaton, and began preparation for a new album. Although a music video was released for a song entitled "The Back of the Bottom Drawer," the album never materialized. Wright announced she was splitting with Vivaton in June 2004 . Again without a label, she nevertheless released a single in late 2004, mostly through the Internet and various radio stations. The song, entitled "Bumper of My S.U.V.," was written by Wright in response to an altercation with an irate woman who noticed the United States Marine Corps
bumper sticker on the back of Wright's car.
The success of "Bumper of My SUV" prompted Wright to start on her record/publishing company entitled Painted Red Music Group. This later evolved to Wright releasing an EP, "Everything". The record contained "Back of the Bottom Drawer" and "Bumper of My SUV" along with four demos. The album was made exclusively available through Wright's website (where she states she put out the album for her fans) and was later made available in many retail outlets such as Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy. The success of the EP led Wright to be signed with Dualtone Records.
Wright's sixth album,"The Metropolitan Hotel", was released in February of 2005 on Dualtone Records. The CD included both "The Bumper of My S.U.V." and "Back of the Bottom Drawer," along with ten additional songs, most of which were written or co-written by Wright. The album itself was produced in conjunction with her own company. Although not a break-out commercial hit, debuting at #18 on Billboard's Top Country chart (it was #7 on the Top Independent Albums chart), The Metropolitan Hotel gained critical praise, especially for "The River." People magazine rated the album as Critics Choice. The music video for the song, about a river that runs near her hometown of Wellsville called the "Mardis De Cygnes", became popular on CMT. The fourth single released from The Metropolitan Hotel was "C'est La Vie (You Never Can Tell)", a re-titled cover of Chuck Berry's song "You Never Can Tell".
Wright signed to Vanguard Records in 2008. She will release her seventh full album, Notes to the Coroner, in 2009.
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
's Wildhorse Saloon
, (just before CMA Music Festival
Chely made her acting debut in the Disney
film, Max Keeble's Big Move
. She plays Mrs. Styles, Max's homeroom teacher.
- 2003 American Legion Auxiliary Woman of the Year
- 2002 Kansan Of the Year
Academy of Country Music Awards
- 1999 Best Female Vocalist (nominee)
- 1999 Best Music Video (for Single White Female) (nominee)
- 1995 Best New Female Vocalist
Country Music Association Awards
- 2001 Vocal Event of the Year (with Brad Paisley) (nominee)
- 2000 Horizon Award (nominee)
- 1999 Horizon Award (nominee)
Country Music Television
- 1999 Female Video Artist (nominee)
CMT's Flameworthy Awards
- 2002 Video Fashion Plate (for Jezebel)
MENC: The National Association for Music Education
- 2002 FAME Award
- 2001 Stand Up For Music Award
International Bluegrass Music Awards
- 2002 Recorded Event of the Year-Ralph Stanley's Clinch Mountain Sweethearts
TNN/Music City News Awards
- 1996 Star of Tomorrow Female(nominee)
Country Weekly Awards
- 1999 Fast Track Artist (nominee)
- 2001 Vocal Collaboration (with Brad Paisley) (nominee)
- 2005 Star With Biggest Heart (nominee)
- 2005 Best Patriotic Song (for The Bumper Of My SUV) (nominee)
- 2006 Star With Biggest Heart(nominee)
- 1996 Best New Artist (nominee)
- 2001 50 Most Beautiful People
- 2005 Critic's Choice (for The Metropolitan Hotel)
- 2002 20 Hottest Women In Music
- 2002 100 Sexist Women of 2002