Richell Rene Wright (born October 25, 1970), known professionally as Chely Wright, is an American country music singer and 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 a number one single, the title track, “Single White Female”. Overall, Wright has released seven studio albums on various labels, and has charted more than fifteen singles on the country charts. As of May 2010, Wright’s previous eight albums and 19 singles released had sold over 1,500,000 copies and 10,000,000 digital impressions to date in the United States. In May 2010, Wright became one of the first major country music performers to publicly come out as lesbian. 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”.
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 simultaneously released her memoir, the LAMDA nominated Like Me, and her first album of new songs since 2005, Lifted Off the Ground.
Wright’s eighth album, I Am the Rain, was released on September 9, 2016, by MRI/Sony and was produced by Joe Henry. It entered the Billboard country chart at 13, the second highest debut of her career. It was also her first appearance on the Americana album chart, where it reached number 9.
Wright released her first Christmas EP in 2018 titled “Santa Will Find You.” She released an EP titled Revival in May 2019.