Chely Wright (born October 25, 1970) is an American country music artist and, starting in 2010, gay rights activist. On the strength of her debut album in 1994, the Academy of Country Music (ACM) 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". Rodney Crowell produced her lastest record, Lifted Off the Ground, which was released in May of 2010. Also in May of 2010, Random House published Chely's memoir, Like Me. Wright has released seven studio albums on various labels, charted more than fifteen singles on the country charts and sold over 1,000,000 copies in the United States. In May 2010, Wright became the first major country music performer to publicly come out as gay, announcing it on the "Today Show." In over a dozen national television appearances, including Oprah and ABC World News, and her 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". After coming out, Chely became a spokesperson for GLSEN. The documentary on her life and career, "Wish Me Away", is premiering at the LA Film Festival on June 20, 2011 and has been featured at the Nashville and San Francisco Film Festivals.
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 she won a BMI Award for. 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.