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Chely Wright: Music Is A Really Good Communicator

Posted by: Petr Mecir

Interviews 09/30/2006

Chely Wright may not have charted as many hit records as some other female artists, but she still is one of the most unique personalities in country music. Chely is known for her highly emotional songwriting and persistant support of American troops, who she often entertains around the world including Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuvait. In spite of releasing "Bumper Of My SUV" on her own, she managed to chart with this song very high and got a lot of attention. A fun fact is that the People Magazine featured Chely in "the 50 Most Beautiful People" in 2001 and Kansas declared her the personality of the year that same year. I interview Chely at the German Country Award in Erfurt, Germany.

You grew up in Kansas but now you live not in Kansas anymore because there is no place like Nashville.

"You're funny!" (laughs) "Yes, that's correct. I've been in Nashville 17 and a half years."

Do you have any special relationship to the Wizard of Oz just because it's related to your home state?

"Actually that movie scares me to death! When I was a kid, it would come on every year on TV and we would watch it. And the witch scared me. But tornadoes were very real where I grew up and so seeing a storm on TV was upsetting to me. I understand why people like it but if you live in Kansas it's not that funny."

Have you ever sung "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" on stage?
Chely Wright

"I never have. My friend Trisha Yearwood sings it and kills it. She sings 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' and just absolutely kills ya."

You used to play trumpet in your school band. Do you still play it?

"I have one still. I don't practice my trumpet. You have to practice. Like you have to start working out and practicing again. And I always messes up my lipstick. But I still have my trumpet."

I know you collect country music memoribillia. What are some of your most precious pieces in your collection?

"I have some reel to reel tapes of Bob Wills, original recordings. I have over a thousand LP's, a couple signed. There's one says: 'All my best, Marty Robbins' in ink pen. I have some clothing items from Loretta Lynn, pair of her shoes. I have a Buck Owens guitar, yeah, I've got lots of neat things. I have Colonel Tom Parker's business card. That was Elvis Presley's manager and I have his business card."

Are you involved in updating of your official website?

" Yes, I highly like that one."

Do you ever read the message boards?

"On ocassion I go on and read the message board. I also go to myspace and read that sometimes."

Do you respond?

"I have before. I can't respond on my website, I don't know how. I guess I could but I don't know how. Someone showed me recently how to respond on myspace. I do read a lot of them and but sometimes I see one that I wanna respond to."

This is what I keep telling myself every time I see someone's website: does the artist even know about this?

Chely Wright
"Yeah, there are a lot of that we don't know about. The official ones we typically know and I don't visit it every day. I'd say once a month I look at it and just see what it looks like."

Do you enjoy making music videos?

"No, I don't. I like the finished product, I like having music videos but making them... That's hard."

Which one is your favorite?

"The easiest was 'Single White Female'. I was only in there for like two hours in and out. 'Never Love You Enough' was a difficult one. We shot that in Hawaii in a jungle and it was very hard. It was a real jungle, it wasn't a set. 'Jezebel' was fun, the nails and the hat..."

You have supported the troops for years. Have you ever got in any dangerous situation when you were overseas?

"Yes, I think so. There was a rocket that was fired at our stage during the show in Baghdad. It didn't hit us, thank God. That was scary. We've been in situations where we were going to caravan and vehicles and they changed that in the last second and flew us on helicopters because of IED's, improvised explosive device. As it turns out that was good that we didn't caravan 'cause vehicles did get hit."

When you travel to the East, do you take any risks? Do you demand any special security or anything like that?

"The military takes very good care of us. There's no one that I could hire that would do a better job of taking care of me and the military. What we do to insure us safety more than anything is do what told, follow the rules. If they say go straight in line and walk and then you decide 'hey what's that?', that's not a good idea. You gotta stay with the group and do what you're told."

You write most of your songs on your own. Do you take writing songs as a way of venting your emotions?

"Oh yeah, absolutely. Sometimes I write a song because I think it would be a hit. I think like 'oh, people might like this' and I write that down, but songs like Bumper of My S.U.V. and The River, they're real things that really happened. And they just end up with a guitar and end up writing down your heart."
Chely Wright
As a way of venting, is it easier for you to write a song or to talk to people?

"Hmm, that's a good question. I feel like I'm a good communicator, I know how to say things with words that I want to say. Sometimes you just talk, talk, talk, talk. Sometimes you can get a point across in a song, because you get the gift of melody as well. And you can really show someone your emotions in a song. At times when you have to discuss things and talk things out it just becomes noise. Sometimes music it the really good communicator, I think."

Do you mind if your fans approach you in public places?

"No, I love it. It has never bothered. When people approach me in a restaurant and say 'I'm so sorry to bother you' and I say 'don't be sorry. I waited for that my whole life.' I think like if you're a celebrity that you should expect people to approach you. And I think it's perfectly OK when I say 'can you give me a few minutes while I eat?' I think that's OK, that's good. But if it turns out for anybody to get autograph, that's mean."

What's the hardest part in balancing a music career and a family?

"You make time for you want to make time for. So if you have a husband or a wife and you're a musician, you make time for it. Like I have pets and I make time for my pets. They don't ever go hungry. And I make time for my family and my relationships."

Do you like to perform in Europe?

"Yeah, I love it."

What's the difference in the audience in Europe and back home?

"Yeah, there's a difference. The fans here are very appreciative. Sometimes back home they're not in the States but here they really anticipate the show so much for weeks, months, and they're very excited. But I have to do the show differently after slow down on a bit when I'm speaking so they understand."

Thank you very much.


Chely Wright & Petr Mečíř

(Chely Wright & Petr Mecir - Erfurt, Germany, 09/30/2006)




A greeting from Chely Wright



(C) Petr Mecir 2006. All rights reserved.