Chely Wright was born October 25, 1970, in Kansas City, Missouri, and raised in Wellsville, Kansas, to an "economically challenged" household. Her passion for music was instilled at an early age, having grown up in a family of four-generation musicians, and raised in a home with music emanating from every corner.
While bluegrass, gospel and country resonated in her surroundings and later played influential roles in her career, it was country music that Chely knew was her calling. She began taking piano lessons at age four despite her family's modest income, and at the request of the school band teacher in her junior high school, joined the band as the trumpeter.
opryland, here she comes
By the time she was 14, Chely was taking her musical talent to local clubs and singing in honky-tonks joined by her father on bass and the rest of her County Line Band. This was no surprise for the family of the musical prodigy, who was reading liner notes at age four and knew she was going to be a country sensation.
Before becoming a high-school senior, Chely landed a job in the Ozark Jubilee, a long-running country show in Missouri, and thanks to her grandfather, she got a job at Opryland. Chely moved to Nashville after her high-school exams, in May 1989.
While Nashville would help Chely get her foot in the country music door, her singing start in Opryland did not pay the bills. She had to work day jobs to supplement her income, which didn't pay for more than her home -- a trailer.
It took hard work and faith, but Chely landed her first record deal after producer Harold Shedd heard Chely's work. He signed her to Mercury/Poylgram, which released her first album, Woman In The Moon in 1994.
woman in our dreams
Chely's work garnered her the Academy of Country Music award for Top New Female Vocalist, and set the stage for her second album, 1996's Right In The Middle Of It. Although it was an improvement from her debut, Chely was not as pleased with the final result as she could have been, and was hoping for a change in record labels.
Within a year, she got her wish and was signed by MCA and her producer of choice, Tony Brown. Released in 1997, Let Me In spawned the hit single "Shut Up And Drive." But it was her 2001 album, Never Love You Enough, that really put Chely on the map of country stardom. With the smash hit, "Single White Female," as well as the success of the title track and "She Went Out For Cigarettes," Chely has enjoyed some time at the top of the charts.
the wright stuff
In addition to the scores of nominations she has picked up, which include ACM nominations for Best Female Vocalist and Best Music Video for "Single White Female" in 1999, Chely also had the honor of performing at a PBS Fourth of July concert on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. She also showed off her talent at MCA Nashville's Label of the Decade celebration at the new Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Ralph Stanley "Clinch Mountain Sweethearts" project. She even made her acting debut as the homeroom teacher in the 2001 kids' movie, Max Keeble's Big Move.
Chely takes pride in having performed for US troops in Korea and Japan, and in her own Reading, Writing & Rhythm foundation, which aims to raise funds for school music programs and help provide instruments -- a need she relates to as an underprivileged member of a school band.
Citing all-time greats like Loretta Lynn, Connie Smith and Buck Owens among her role models, the beautiful singer-songwriter enjoys painting, golfing (buddy Vince Gill taught her how to play and she uses her skill at charity games) and hiking in the little free time she has.