Country music star Chely Wright is a singer, songwriter, author and gay rights activist. In May 2010, she became the first major country music performer to publicly come out as gay. She tells her story of being a closeted lesbian in her memoir Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer.
On the strength of her debut album in 1994, the Academy of Country Music named her Top New Female Vocalist in 1995. Wright's first Top 40 country hit came in 1997 with "Shut Up and Drive". Two years later, her fourth album yielded her first number one single, the title track, "Single White Female". Overall, Wright has released nine studio albums on various labels, and has charted more than fifteen singles on the country charts. Her newest album, Revival, was released in 2019.
In television appearances and an autobiography, she cited among her reasons for publicizing her homosexuality a concern with bullying and hate crimes toward gays, particularly gay teenagers, and the damage to her life caused by "lying and hiding". In 2014, she won an award for Outstanding Work as LGBT Activist from the Family Equality Council.
As a songwriter she has written songs that have been recorded by Brad Paisley, Richard Marx, Indigo Girls, Mindy Smith and Clay Walker, among them Walker's top ten hit, "I Can't Sleep" that won her a BMI award. On May 4, 2010, Wright released both her memoir of being a closeted lesbian, Like Me, and her first album of new songs since 2005, "Lifted Off the Ground."
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