Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer

Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer

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by Chely Wright

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Chely Wright, singer, songwriter, country music star, writes in this moving, telling memoir about her life and her career; about growing up in America’s heartland, the youngest of three children; about barely remembering a time when she didn’t know she was different.
She writes about her parents, putting down roots in their twenties in the


Chely Wright, singer, songwriter, country music star, writes in this moving, telling memoir about her life and her career; about growing up in America’s heartland, the youngest of three children; about barely remembering a time when she didn’t know she was different.
She writes about her parents, putting down roots in their twenties in the farming town of Wellsville, Kansas, Old Glory flying atop the poles on the town’s manicured lawns, and being raised to believe that hard work, honesty, and determination would take her far.
She writes of making up her mind at a young age to become a country music star, knowing then that her feelings and crushes on girls were “sinful” and hoping and praying that she would somehow be “fixed.” (“Dear God, please don’t let me be gay. I promise not to lie. I promise not to steal. I promise to always believe in you . . . Please take it away.”)
We see her, high school homecoming queen, heading out on her own at seventeen and landing a job as a featured vocalist on the Ozark Jubilee (the show that started Brenda Lee, Red Foley, and Porter Wagoner), being cast in Country Music U.S.A., doing four live shows a day, and—after only a few months in Nashville—her dream coming true, performing on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry . . .
She describes writing and singing her own songs for producers who’d discovered and recorded the likes of Reba McEntire, Shania Twain, and Toby Keith, who heard in her music something special and signed her to a record contract, releasing her first album and sending her out on the road on her first bus tour . . . She writes of sacrificing all for a shot at success that would come a couple of years later with her first hit single, “Shut Up And Drive” . . . her songs (from her fourth album, Single White Female) climbing the Billboard chart for twenty-nine weeks, hitting the #1 spot . . . 
She writes about the friends she made along the way—Vince Gill, Brad Paisley, and others—writing songs, recording and touring together, some of the friendships developing into romantic attachments that did not end happily . . . Keeping the truth of who she was clutched deep inside, trying to ignore it in a world she longed to be a part of—and now was—a world in which country music stars had never been, could not be, openly gay . . .
She writes of the very real prospect of losing everything she’d worked so hard to create . . . doing her best to have a real life—her best not good enough . . .
And in the face of everything she did to keep herself afloat, she writes about how the vortex of success and hiding who she was took its toll: her life, a tangled mess she didn’t see coming, didn’t want to; and, finally, finding the guts to untangle herself from the image of the country music star she’d become, an image steeped in long-standing ideals and notions about who—and what—a country artist is, and what their fans expect them to be . . .
I am a songwriter,” she writes. “I am a singer of my songs—and I have a story to tell. As I’ve traveled this path that has delivered me to where I am today, my monument of thanks, paying honor to God, remains. I will do all I can with what I have been given . . .”
Like Me is fearless, inspiring, true.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Random House
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5 MB

Read an Excerpt

“It has been twenty-eight days since she last spoke to me. How can she not call or reach out in some way? I have no idea if I’m going crazy or if I’m already there. Is this what it feels like?
I’m afraid of the thoughts that I’m having. My only relief is when I’m sleeping . . . When I am able to get rest, I risk dreaming of her. The dreams are happy ones, but then I wake and feel the truth bearing down on me . . .
I go upstairs and locate a loaded 9-millimeter handgun. It is heavier than I remember.
I say a prayer to God to forgive me and to understand why I can’t go on anymore like this. I beg God to realize that I will never be able to fit into the life that I’ve created, that I will never be accepted.
I pick up the gun and put the end of it in my mouth. It’s cold. I hold it steady and get my right thumb on the trigger and prepare to pull it by pushing it outward.
I close my eyes . . . thumb still on the trigger.
My mind is going a million miles an hour. I think of my family, my dogs, my friends, my fans, the sun, a kiss from Julia, and music.
Then I hear a noise.
It is the sound of my heart pounding in my head . . .”

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

CHELY WRIGHT is an acclaimed singer and songwriter. Her seven albums have sold a million copies. Wright has given concerts around the world and has performed seven times for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. She lives in Nashville and New York City.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Like Me 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 112 reviews.
MegMilliken More than 1 year ago
Like Me is a nearly 300 page country song. Its a country song in its purest form. Wright's simplistic yet intuitive and intelligent tone is transcending and penetrating. Her honesty makes you want to embrace her at length for being so authentic. And just like a country song is genuine, there was never a moment that Wright relinquished her goal of being completely forthright and truthful. Without forsaking the message of her journey, Wright could have "come out" and been far less transparent. Instead, she explores the essence of each relationship in her life, from her mother, to "Julia", to "Kristin", and to herself. And through it all, Wright never complains or plays the victim; her ownership of her life is real and compelling. Wright could have easily just told some generic form of her story along the lines of other celebrities: yes I'm gay, I'm proud to be gay, I am the way I am and I had to hide it for my career. But no, not Wright. She gives her reader an intimate and intense view into her life, thereby forever connecting them to herself. I don't write reviews of books. I dont make editorial comments. I read, close, and reshelve my books and think back on them throughout the years. But not with this memoir. Just like Brad Paisley wanted to "shout from the rooftops" that he was in love with her, I too want to shout from the rooftops "Get this book! Read it with her new album humming in the background. It will change your life." Bravo Chely Wright. Your courage is palpable and contagious. Contagious like a virus, a good virus that provides your readers with boldness, clarity, and inspiration. I can't put it any simpler: thank you.
Danielle0421 More than 1 year ago
I'm not a big country music fan so I didn't know who Chely Wright was until I saw her on Oprah, but I was so moved by her story that I decided to read her book. This book should be required reading for all those who believe that being gay is a choice people make, or that those who are gay are morally bankrupt or without God in their life. Chely's story is heart wrenching, here is a woman who has a personal relationship with God and is so tormented by her homosexuality that as a child she starts a daily ritual of praying to God to please not make her gay. She lives her life hiding that fact that she is gay and struggles with what those around her say and feel about homosexuality. She pushes people away and pushes love away because she is so fearful of what people will think if she admits to the world that she is a lesbian. As a straight woman I can not imagine what living your life in fear every day feels like, and my heart goes out to all those who struggle with homosexuality and what the world will think of them. I agree with Chely that God creates some people to be straight, and some people to be gay, and we have no right to judge those who are different than us. I hope that stories such as Chely's will educate those among us who fear what they do not know or understand. I am so glad I took the time to read this book and I highly recommend it to others as well.
violetangel More than 1 year ago
I'll put in a disclaimer up front. I've followed Chely's career since she started. Actually (though I didn't realize it until reading the book) since before she had a contract, when she was working in a show at Opryland and I was selling snacks at a ride across a fenced area. Even then she was a standout performer in an amazingly talented group of performers. I've always admired her for how she presents herself and how she's dealt with fans and "the industry" (growing up in Nashville, I well know how the music industry, especially the country industry, puts certain "images" on the performers and expects them to "follow the rules". When Chely came out publicly on the Today Show on May 4, she... I cannot say she broke a rule. But she shattered an image. And finally, she's truly being the open, honest person everyone always thought she was. And my admiration for her has only grown. I got the ebook version for my nook as soon as it came out, but didn't read it immediately as I was finishing up another book. I desperately wanted to read it, and as soon as I could, I started it. I thought I knew what she was going to be revealing in the book, and to a degree I was right. I didn't know how quickly she was going to get there - or how heartbreaking the beginning was going to be. The preface had me in tears of sadness and understanding - seeing how the years of hiding who she was finally and almost tragically took their toll on Chely. Then in the first words of the first chapter, my tears turned to tears of admiration. Did I mention I was reading this on the NYC subway??? I hate crying on the subway, but I could not stop crying or hide my tears. Because in so many ways, Chely's story is my story. I'm not a country music artist, but my job is one that can also be affected by revelations about sexuality, regardless of what the "official" policy might be about discrimination. As I read Chely's revelations about how early she knew she was different, I nodded, knowing that feeling only too well. The crush on the third grade teacher... The attempts at relationships with guys only to discover that they just didn't work... The revelation to a parent (in my case both) that was jumbled and just kind of blurted out after having a carefully planned speech... And the acceptance by the parent (again in my case both) that came not in spite of, but because. I had the honor of being at a reading/performance/signing Chely did at a B&N here in NYC, and found myself on the verge of tears several times. Tears at Chely's courage and her strength in being true to herself after having the lies nearly take her life. Literally take her life. Hearing her speak about what she's experienced - and how she's not telling her story for all those who thought they knew (as she said "they didn't because I never told them") but for the 14 year old girl in Des Moines who feels like an alien who can read Chely's story and know she's not alone, or for the 15 year old boy whose military father likes Chely from her performances in Iraq but "will be damned if his son is gonna be a homo" who can read the book and pass it to his dad and say "Read this, and then let's talk." I've met lots of "famous" people, but this encounter left me shaking and nearly speechless because of the power and emotions involved. For a first book, particularly a first memoir, it definitely d
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very good book, page turner for sure! Chely is very open and tells her story with great detail and bravery. She really opens your eyes to certain issues. Overall a great book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, def a must read!!
niki7 More than 1 year ago
Whether you are a star in Nashville, or a waitress making ends meet in Anytown; straight, gay, or uncertain... you will understand Chely Wright's story as she has written it so eloquently that any person of any background can find a way to relate to her. This is not a book about being gay, being an entertainer, or coming out of the closet. This is a book about one person's struggle with all of life's complexities, and what she needed to do to be able to live her life to its fullest. She touches (in great detail) on many moments of her life that have clearly shaped her and made her the woman she is today. Chely has a gift in sharing herself and her experiences without preaching or judging, and leaves the reader with feelings of hope and inspiration, even while explaining some of her darkest moments. Though she has worked tirelessly to achieve success in her career, and therefore become famous, you'll find yourself reading along as though she's your dear friend, confiding in you her innermost struggles. And you'll be compelled to support her, as a person, regardless of your views and beliefs of homosexuality. She has this effect because her pages are genuine, sincere, and let you in to her heart and her human experience. This book would be a helpful read to any person, as it shares the struggles of another, another point of view. But I would definitely recommend it to any person who feels strongly against homosexuality, especially because of religious beliefs. It would be unfair to stand your ground in your beliefs without educating yourself on the whole picture, and Chely Wright's story offers an intelligent view of how one's spirit can be broken by those who chose to stand against you, without ever understanding you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a well written book about her and her true feelings. That is what I loved about it! I had no idea who she was until I read her story. I am in love with her courage and strength. A very good read and easy to follow.
Straight-Ally More than 1 year ago
Have you noticed all the "bad" reviews are from anonymous users who do not have neither the guts or maybe the vocabulary to write anything??? Anyway, I just purchased the book and if it is anything like the documentary it will be great! Many people have been damaged growing up. Either by religion or just screwed up parents. I am not famous and no cares what I think but I think we need more "famous" people to come out about their lives whatever strugglr they have had. Your straight ally!!!! Molly
BookloverBN More than 1 year ago
I just watched this documentary that chronicles Country singer Chely Wright's painful journey toward coming out. This is simply a wonderful documentary that I believe should be seen by teachers, by parents, especially by kids who might be just like Ms. Wright, as she tells what it was like for her as a child growing up in a small Kansas town, who went on to achieve her dream of becoming a singer and songwriter in the country music industry with great success, winning awards, having hit records. It was a long and painful process for Ms. Wright, a well-known and loved star in country music, to decide to come out as gay, and this film follows her process so closely and intimately that it puts you right there in those most intimate moments, as she doubts, fears, sleepless nights, tears, and also shows her receiving help, counseling, and support as she writes her autobiography and records an album, both times to be released when she makes her public announcement in May of 2010. This film will move you to tears. It will also wish that if you are making this coming out decision for yourself that you could have a father and sister like Chely's, and a spiritual counselor like Weldon Gaddy. You may not have people like them to help you, but you can have this remarkable film that will give you hope and guidance, whether you are closeted and deciding to come out, or a parent of a gay child, a teacher, or maybe a minister who might like some help in knowing how to help a faithful parishioner who seeks your support. If you are that kid in Des Moines who doesn't know where to turn for support, see this film, and know there are organizations like GLSEN and the Like Me foundation that can help. Like Me: Confessions Of A Heartland Country Singer Ms. Wright's book is another wonderful source of inspiration and hope.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I applaud chelys courage and honesty for those country folks and those in the city hopefully this will be a support for women struggling with this issue and a message to all of acceptance
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Chely's intimate life story shared through this book. She is your sister or best friend. This is a wonderful growing up and coming out story. A must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I felt this book was an extraordinary adaptation of Ms. Wright's life. I enjoyed her honesty and candid writing. Unlike other reviewers I left the section if the book discussing Brad was necessary in telling her story. She also did a documentary called "Wish Me Away", which tells the story of her life much like the book. To see the emotion this woman went through in making the decision to come out of the closet is heartbreaking. If you like the book or appreciate her music the documentary is a must see.
DLPruitt More than 1 year ago
An excellent montage of experiences in the the life of a gay woman. Like Me could be the story of any of us. The book does a great job of illustrating why being gay isn't a choice but is rather an intricate part of who a person is.
Kristina McKinney More than 1 year ago
I've seen Chely in concert a few times and thought she was amazing (and had a crush on her). Reading her story really gave me something I could relate to. She is an inspiration and I'm so proud and greatful that she's standing up for all of us. Keep rockin Chely! Don't be afraid to be YOU
honeybee381 More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book that you won't be able to put down. I don't agree with her, but its a very good read.
lmcrmiller More than 1 year ago
Very good book! Makes you feel like you are living her life!!
piper7 More than 1 year ago
Chely Wright is a true inspiration for all people.... No matter what she shows us not to live in fear!!
LikeMe More than 1 year ago
Chely Wright tells her story without hiding anything. For every good written about herself, there was something bad. This book is so real and relevant to today. Her struggles are felt by many and it is very easy to relate to her story. I read this book in 1 day. It was so heart breaking, uplifting, and honest. I love it and HIGHLY recommend it! Easily a must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so well written and really explains well how people like her and I have had to hide to save what we thought was our lives. And that true living is living free.
ITS-TIME More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book immensely. The chapters are short, interesting, and perked my interest as I read the pages. Chely does a fine job giving her story as a closeted lesbian, and the impact on herself and others for not being open with her sexuality. Questioning whether she could have made her success by being known as a Lesbian, I feel she did it the right way. She was able to have a love relationship during her climb to fame. I was particulary interested in how she would relate her sexual encounters and feelings to the reader. Given that she wanted to reach a younger audience to see that truth to one self is so important, she gave enough words to make her feelings known and at the same time kept the book as one to be read by younger boys and girls. This is the group of readers that she needs to reach. They need to know her story and realize the importance of being true to yourself and your feelings. She also brought some key situations to attention. For straight people,some of these areas she spoke of was not important, but for gays, it is of upmost importance. Don't Ask, Don't Tell, encounter with Vice President Cheney and how she summarized her views on this event, Boy Scouts of America, and other areas. Many areas she had courage and voiced her opinions, and they were good to hear. Chely has a special place now. She is in position to make country songs of love for all people, regardless of the sex of those in love. Make the listener feel like the song was written for his or her situation in life. She found a beautiful love with Julia, and for all those gays who are closeted, this book is an inspiration to know that the truth will set you free, it won't be easy, but it will be worth it. Chely now is a role model, and I hope that all her fans will continue to give her support, and each fan now knows someone who is country and gay, and this is good. Gay wins when someone loves the person already and they find out he or she just happens to be gay. This is beautiful. All we can hope is that someday being gay does not tarnish our chances of being who we want to be. Chely Wright has given a real gift to all of us, gay or straight. Read her book and open your mind to real love and acceptance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've loved Chely Wright's music for a long time. I had no idea that she was homosexual. Quite frankly, it doesn't matter to me. It's not my lifestyle, but to each his own. This book was interesting and I was more focused on her childhood than her struggle with homosexuality. I think it's a shame what she endured from her parents. I'm glad that she has grown into the woman she has today. GREAT READ!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Chely Wright is courageous to finally come out of the closet. While I feel the country music fans would have accepted her earlier in her career, she had to do what she felt was best for her. The book is honest about her experiences as a young child growing up in small town Kansas to becoming a country music star. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Chely's career or for anyone wanting to know what it is like being in the closet when you really want to come out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a good book.Read it all in one night.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago