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EntertainmentChely Wright Makes Emotional Grand Ole Opry Return — Her First Since Coming Out in 2010

17:35  14 august  2019
17:35  14 august  2019 Source:   people.com

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Chely Wright recently became the first openly gay country music singer when she came out , and today she stopped by to tell Ellen all about her journey.

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Chely Wright Makes Emotional Grand Ole Opry Return — Her First Since Coming Out in 2010 © Chris Hollo for the Grand Ole Opry Chely Wright

This was not the case on Saturday when she marked an emotional return to the Grand Ole Opry for the first time in more than a decade. The country artist, now 48, took to the famed stage to sing her early hits “Shut Up and Drive” and “Single White Female,” making a deeply symbolic fashion statement in a dusty pink color-blocked Diane von Furstenberg dress. It was the same frock first worn in her historic appearance on the Today Show in 2010 where she told the world that she was gay, rocking some quarters in Nashville and making her the first major country star to come out.

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Chely Wright recently became the first openly gay country music singer when she came out , and today she stopped by to tell Ellen all about her journey.

Gay country star Chely Wright has accused Grand Ole Opry officials of snubbing her since she came out as a lesbian last year. The Single White Female singer was a regular performer at the fabled home of country music in Nashville, Tennessee ever since she made her debut there in 1989 – but she

At the time, she thought her candor could likely end her career. But as she struggled for her breath and her words to address the Opry crowd Saturday night, more than nine years after her book, she had no plans to downplay her truth.

And through cheers and protracted applause, the enthusiastic crowd welcomed her home, a moment that brought her to tears in her dressing room after she’d basked in the clear admiration of fans, Opry personnel and musicians including Opry matriarch Jeannie Seely, who joined Wright on stage after her performance to offer big hugs and kind words of support.

Wright seemed surprised and overwhelmed by the love.

“I thought this was like a bookend, you know. I performed here first when was 18 and now 30 years later, I thought probably this would be my last,” Wright told PEOPLE after her appearance.

“But you know, I think I’m coming back,” Wright beamed.

“A lot of people were applauding for me when I talked about my gayness,” Wright shared, stifling a sob. “I felt so much love out there. I felt like I was finally coming home.”

Chely Wright Makes Emotional Grand Ole Opry Return — Her First Since Coming Out in 2010 © Provided by TIME Inc. Chely Wright | Shary Connella

Much has changed for Wright since she left Nashville in 2008 for New York City and what she thought would be a brief stint to pen a tough but heartfelt memoir that ultimately would shake up Nashville as perhaps no other book had. In her 2010’s “Like Me,” she confessed to living a lifelong lie, knowing since childhood that she was a lesbian, but trying to hide her truth from music industry pals and men she’d dated, including superstar Brad Paisley — all the while carrying on a relationship with a woman. She has publicly apologized for that.

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In 2010 , Chely Wright made history as the first major country music singer to come out as gay. After coming out and telling her story in a memoir, album and exclusive interview with PEOPLE, Wright felt liberated but also at odds with an industry she’d long called home.

In May 2010 , Wright became one of the first major country music performers to publicly come out as lesbian. Grand Ole Opry 70th Anniversary. Singer-songwriter and activist Chely Wright made her first appearance at the Concert for Love and Acceptance on Thursday night, performing a pair of her

Born in Missouri and raised in small-town Kansas where her faith told her homosexuality was a sin, Wright described in her book how her inner turmoil got so bad that at one point she put a 9-millimeter handgun in her mouth in a suicide attempt. That event became a tipping point for her living her life honestly — a career in country music be damned. She prayed to God to let her have peace as she went forward telling the truth about who she really was.

Life shifted quickly after that. Wright stayed in N.Y.C. where she met her wife Lauren Blitzer-Wright just weeks after her book was released. The couple wed first in a civil ceremony the same day gay marriage became legal in N.Y. A month later they celebrated with a formal service at a private Connecticut home before 200 guests. Both women wore white-gowns in nuptials led by a minister and a rabbi.

“Being married — that’s a hard job,” Wright says. “It can all look good on paper and then you get down into the hard work of marriage every day. My wife is super smart, super funny, super decent, super thoughtful. I think choosing your partner is paramount. Then you decide are we going to do this work together — it’s every day. You suit up together and say ‘let’s make this work.’”

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Chely Wright is a country music singer who debuted in 1994 and achieved her life’s dream by becoming part of the Grand Ole Opry tradition, recording Two weeks after she came out publicly in 2010 , Wright met Lauren Blitzer, an LGBT rights advocate who she married a year later in Connecticut.

Chely Wright came out as a lesbian in 2010 . Since coming out the Country Music Industry hasn't invited her to perform at any events. I believe The Grand Ole Opry should invite her back to the stage. It would show how much support she still has in Nashville. I believe many still recognize her

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A post shared by Lauren Blitzer-wright (@lulu_blitzer) on Nov 22, 2018 at 9:58am PST

In 2013, Wright gave birth to identical twin boys, George and Everett, via in-vitro fertilization.

Raising them in N.Y.C. has been pure joy, Wright said. “Being a mom is more complex, emotional, gratifying. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. The boys are incredible and they make me laugh every day. They make me cry every day. And doing it in New York — it doesn’t matter what you do in New York. No offense to Nashville, but it’s better in New York than it is anywhere else.”

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A post shared by Chely Wright (@chelywright) on Jul 8, 2019 at 7:07am PDT

Not that she still doesn’t consider Nashville, where she lived for 20 years and still keeps a residence, home.

Wright first played the Opry on Sept. 16, 1989 — almost 30 years prior to her Saturday show. Getting that opportunity, she recalled, meant so much as a young artist.

“The Opry has always been the mother church of country music,” Wright told PEOPLE. “It was a huge part of my imagination as a kid growing up, fantasizing about singing and doing shows and making records, imagining what life would be like as a recording artist.  Playing the Opry was part of that dream.”

She remembers her appearances there fondly. “Over the years it was a big part of my career and kind of my artist identity,” Wright added. “When I first came out with my first record, there wasn’t an interview I did about my new single or my new album or my tour, I didn’t discuss the Opry shows.”

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COMING SOON. Heather Morgan. Opry Debut: April 13. In 2009, songwriter Andrew Marlin and his bandmate Emily Frantz came together to form Mandolin Orange, and they The Memphis, TN native garnered attention after recording and releasing her hit song, " Come In Out Of The Rain" which

The Grand Ole Opry Should Invite Chely Wright Back, Say Activists. Prior to coming out publicly in 2010 , the award-winning country singer/songwriter performed on the famous stage regularly. Politicians and rich CEOs shouldn't make all the decisions. Today we ask you to help keep

Chely Wright Makes Emotional Grand Ole Opry Return — Her First Since Coming Out in 2010 © Provided by TIME Inc. Chely Wright | Shary Connella

But after she revealed she was gay, the invitations stopped.

“I haven’t been invited to do the Opry since I came out,” Wright told PEOPLE. “It’s not like they have been asking, and I haven’t done it. This is the first time they have asked and my answer, which surprised me, was ‘yes’ the minute I saw the email come in.”

Gina Keltner, the director of Opry Talent Scheduling & Logistics, was upbeat about Wright’s return, noting that those who knew her in her early years were energized to see her on the historic stage again — and eager to catch up.

“We were proud to showcase Chely early in her career and during her days as a country music hit-maker,” Keltner said. “When we learned of her new music and of her being back out on tour, we were pleased to invite her back to the stage to share her new songs with fans.”

She added: “Several of us at the Opry were here when Chely lived in Nashville and visited the Opry frequently more than a decade ago, and we’re personally excited to catch up with her in addition to hearing her new music.

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A post shared by Chely Wright (@chelywright) on Apr 16, 2017 at 10:45am PDT

Music critic and author Holly Gleason lauded the Opry’s enduring relevance to her industry.

“The Opry is still the best of what Nashville is. It doesn’t really matter what you are. Once you’re part the Opry, you’re part of the family there,” she said.

Gleason name-checked several artists whose image trends far from what some might view as a more traditional country music industry. She noted the success of Kane Brown, 25, who is mixed race, and Jimmie Allen, 33, who is African-American, along with Luke Combs, 29, “who is kind of the chubby kid from North Carolina who made good.”

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Chely Wright has come out as an openly gay country singer. The 39-year old songstress’ confirmation to People Magazine that she’s a lesbian coincides with the release of her memoir, Like Me, as well as her first album in five years, Lifted off the That is not stopping Wright from relishing in her honesty.

Chely Wright is happy she came out as gay to fans in 2010 , but that doesn’t mean her honesty didn’t come with a price. In reaction to Anderson Cooper coming out of the closet, the crooner reflects on her roller coaster experience two full years after making honesty priority number one .

She also pointed to newer artists like Ashley McBryde, who wears her myriad tattoos proudly, and to Brandy Clark, a multi-Grammy nominated singer who has not only come out, but written music recorded by everyone from Darius Rucker to Reba McEntire and Kacey Musgraves.

“It feels like Nashville has come to a place, maybe, where it’s not what you look like, not who you love, not who you vote for — it’s what’s in your music,” Gleason said. “It’s more ‘what are you saying to our fans and how do you reflect the real world around them?’”

Wright has sold more than one million records in her career. In her newest record, Revival, a 5-track EP released in May, Wright says the record’s producers Dustin Ransom and Jeremy Lister created “sonic landscapes” that are “cinematic” with a decidedly N.Y. feel. She said the record is about forgiveness and awakening to what is going on in the world. The album marks her first music recorded in Nashville since she came out.

“People ask me if I write differently now that I’m out. I really don’t think so,” she said. “The only discernible difference is before, I had this full-time 80-hours a week job of hiding… And now, I got to retire from a really hard job with no perks, no benefits, no vacation time — just hiding.” That burden is gone.

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A post shared by Chely Wright (@chelywright) on Oct 11, 2016 at 7:45am PDT

Wright proudly takes on the mantle of activist in addition to musical artist. She sweetly but powerfully acknowledged her story between songs on Saturday, explaining to Opry fans that since the last time they saw her, she’d become a wife and mother and also a woman who is living honestly. She switched up the final lyric of her last song to honor her message, “a single white female, looking for a girl (not man as the original song says) like you.”

The finish drew strong cheers and applause that Wright absorbed gratefully. No matter how she had she left Nashville 11 years ago, fearing her musical dreams would soon be over  — she had been welcomed, as an artist in her own right, upon her return.

“I’m thinking change is here,” she said. “The fact that there are a lot of now openly gay, LGBTQ writers, producers and artists — that speaks volumes. Representation matters. Just thinking that it is ok for your friends and family and band guys to know wasn’t enough for me. For me, it was do or die. I was going to expire or I was going to have to tell my truth.

“I came out nearly a decade ago and since then, there are new people added to the list. It’s growing and that makes me really proud and optimistic and hopeful for people to continue to live in their light.”

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