Single White Female
“I want it all! I would like to be CMA Female Vocalist of the Year, ACM Female Vocalist of the Year. I’d like Song of the Year. I’d like my writing to be recognized with a Grammy. It’s a great feeling to be recognized by your peers. It’s an even better feeling to be welcomed and accepted by country radio and its listeners. If desire is any part of this equation, then I’m a contender!” Chely Wright
Chely Wright, born Richelle Renee Wright, is an American country music artist who moved to Nashville in the late 1980s. The winner of the 1994 Academy of Country Music’s Top New Female Vocalist reached the zenith of her fame with the release of the gold album Single White Female (1999), which brought her several hit songs like the chart-topping “Single White Female,” ”Went Out For Cigarettes” and “It Was.” Her latest album, The Metropolitan Hotel (2005), received critical praise, thanks to the poignant song “The River.”
As for her personal life, the bonafide country crooning star mentions all-time great such as Connie Smith, Buck Owens and Loretta Lynn as her models. In her free time, she enjoys painting, hiking as well as golfing. She is the founder of The Reading, Writing, and Rhythm Foundation whose purpose is to raise funds for school music programs and help provide instruments.
Childhood and Family:
In Kansas City, Missouri, Rochelle Renee Wright, who would later be famous as Chely Wright, was born on October 25, 1970. She grew up in Wellsville, Kansas in a family of four-generation musicians. She started to attend piano classes at age 4 and went on to develop her musical interest by listening to a variety of music like bluegrass, gospel and rock, but it was country music that she knew was her calling.
Chely joined the school band as the trumpeter and later formed her own band named “County Line.” Before her senior year in high school, she got a job at the Ozark Jubilee, the long-running country show in Missouri whose alumni included Red Foley and Brenda Lee, and thanks to her grandfather’s encouragement, she won a job in a musical production at the Opryland theme park. She took her final exam a week early and moved to Nashville in May 1989.
Bumper of My S.U.V
Missouri native Chely Wright moved from her hometown to Nashville after her high school exams, in 1989 and after struggling for several years, finally scored a record deal with Mercury/Poylgram. Her debut album, Woman In The Moon, was released in 1994. Although none of the three singles released from the album broke the Top 40, Wright did make a name for herself by picking up a 1994 Academy of Country Music for Top New Female Vocalist. Her follow-up, Right In The Middle Of It, followed in 1996, but it failed to make an impression as well.
Unsatisfied with the result of her first two albums, Wright then left her label and moved to MCA Nashville. Teaming up with producer Tony Brown, she launched her third album, Let Me In, in 1997, which spawned the Top Twenty country hit “Shut Up and Drive.” Let Me In also contained the Top Forty hits “Just Another Heartache” and “I Already Do.”
It was in 1999 that Wright really enjoyed the country stardom with the release of the smash hit Single White Female. The album’s title track was a success. It became her first single to be No. 1 at the US Country chart and nabbed an ACM nod for Best Music Video. She earned additional victory with the success of “She Went Out For Cigarettes” and “It Was,” which hit the chart in 2000. Single White Female eventually received a gold certification.
During the three-year-gap before her next album, Wright joined forces with fellow country artist Brad Paisley to sing the duet song “Hard to Be a Husband, Hard to Be a Wife,” which was penned for the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Grand Ole Opry and performed during a CBS television special. The song was released as part of a collection of songs from that special. The bright collaboration earned the two a CMA nomination for Vocal Event Of The Year. Additionally, Wright also worked with Diamond Rio for a song on their One More Day album, and Paisley’s Part II album. Both were launched in 2001.
The same year, Wright’s forth album, Never Love You Enough, was released. The album debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. The title song reached No. 26 in 2001 and “Jezebel” became the top twenty-three in 2002. Wright’s partnership with MCA Nashville came to an end in June 2002. She signed with a new independent label called Vivaton in January 2004, but separated several months later after failing making a new album.
Wright then signed with Dualtone Music Group and released the sixth album The Metropolitan Hotel in February 2005. The album included the popular song “Bumper of My S.U.V.,” which she wrote in response to an argument with a furious woman who noticed the United States Marine Corps bumper sticker on the back of Wright’s car, and “Back of the Bottom Drawer,” a track she did while still with Vivaton. Though not a huge commercial hit, debuting at No. 18 on Billboard’s Top Country chart, The Metropolitan Hotel achieved some positive reviews, especially for the haunting song “The River.”
The beautiful singer-songwriter is now working on a new project.
- CMT Flameworthy Video Music: Fashion Plate Video of the Year, 2002
- Academy of Country Music: Top New Female Vocalist, 1994