There has been a great deal of speculation since the folks at People magazine revealed that someone would be coming out of the closet in their May 5 issue. They gave hints, including the fact that it is was a female country singer, which had numerous sites like Gawker, Jezebel and Autostraddle speculating who the next K.D. Lang might be. (You have to check out Autostraddle’s argument for Shelby Lynne – that is one of the most well-researched pieces of journalism the internet has ever seen! If they had been correct I think they were looking at a Pulitzer.)
But, it appears the winner is Chely Wright! The 39-year-old country sanger, who has a successful solo career and has worked with lots of Nashville stars like Brad Paisley and Clay Walker, will test the tolerance levels of country music fans as she becomes the first major country artist to come out of the closet since Lang in 1992. (K.D. kind of cheated a little, announcing the fact at the same time she released Ingenue, and album of pop standards.)
Wright tells People, “Nothing in my life has been more magical than the moment I decided to come out.” She also addresses the difficulty of trying to have a career in a community that isn’t historically supportive of homosexuality saying, “I hid everything for my music.”
The effects of the announcement should be immediately clear as Chely’s brand new album Lifted Off the Ground comes out May 4, the day before the People magazine issue hits newsstands.
In addition to the new album, Chely will also be releasing her autobiography Like Me on May 4, which will almost certainly address her homosexuality.
The announcement shouldn’t come as a complete surprise to People readers as her tomboy nature was talked about in the May 13, 2002 issue:
“It’s so funny to hear people on the radio talking about her being sexy,” says her sister Jennifer Archer, a stay-at-home mom in Independence, Kans. “We were such tomboys. We swam in the pond in our shorts and had mud fights. Beauty was never anything Chely strove for.”
Chely talks about the transition she needed to make to a more lady-like image:
“For a long time I had a chip on my shoulder: ‘What about the music? I’m a writer. I’m a producer. I’m a singer,’ ” says the 5’9″ Wright of her early years in Nashville. “But then I started working with all the tools in my tool belt.”
Tool Belt? Major clue! The article goes on to describe the things she did “hammering out her new look – designer dresses and heels, lightened brunette locks, judicious use of Laura Mercier, Bobbi Brown and Trish McEvoy cosmetics.”
Has her newfound elegance tamed the tomboy in the still-single Wright? Says her pal, singer Keith Urban: “She can kick your ass whether it’s on the golf course or softball field. I wouldn’t get near her—unless she was on my team!”
Even though we now know Chely is gay, we still don’t know if she’s on the sam team as Keith Urban. Hi-oooooo!!