Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer

Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer

by Chely Wright


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(Book). Chely Wright, singer, songwriter, and country music star, writes in this moving, telling memoir about her life and her career; about growing up in America's heartland and about barely remembering a time when she didn't know she was different. The youngest of three children, Wright would ascend the ladder to the top of the country-music world, only to find herself trapped in a place she hadn't foreseen, but had to face. From high-school homecoming queen to successful recording artist with her first hit single, "Shut Up and Drive," Wright's journey was dictated by keeping the truth of who she was closeted in a world in which country music stars had never been and could not be openly gay. Working with the biggest names in Nashville, she navigated these treacherous waters until the charade took too great a toll. Ultimately, as she reveals in this candid and outspoken work, Wright found the courage 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 fans expect that artist to be.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781423499480
Publisher: Hal Leonard
Publication date: 04/01/2011
Pages: 318
Sales rank: 392,330
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About 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.

Table of Contents

Preface xiii

The Prayer 3

Learning to Hide 13

"House of the Rising Sun" 20

Bullies 22

Underwater 31

Let Me Sing for You 35

Salisbury Steak, Please 39

The Boy on a Tractor 41

The Ozark Jubilee 46

Opryland USA, 1989 51

Brenda 55

Scared Straight 66

My First Recording Contract, 1993 75

Julia 77

A Dream Come True 84

The Thin Line 87

We Found a Way 91

All-American Girl 93

"But Didn't She Date What's-His-Name?" 102

"Single White Female" 105

Fame 108

Knee-Deep in a River and Dying of Thirst 113

Brad 115

The Slow Climb 117

All the Way to Memphis 124

Bites and Stings 126

Love Is Love 134

In My Own Home 136

Rumors 139

"Hard to Be a Husband, Hard to Be a Wife" 141

Casualties 153

Try, Try Again 155

Beautiful People 156

Mice Don't Speak 159

From Sea to Shining Sea 164

Back to the Desert 176

My Sister, Jeny 182

A Great American 185

Steel on Steel: Master Sergeant Wright 194

Don't Ask, Don't Tell 197

Hannity and Wright 201

Love Everybody 207

Moving Out 213

Kristin 215

My Dad 222

The Boy Scouts of America 229

Run, Jeny, Run 232

Down on My Knees 239

Keep Your Friends Close, and Your Enemies Closer 244

One of My Angels 249

A Million to One 251

Choice 257

Stereotypes 260

My Mom, My Brother, and Others 265

Where Do I Fit In? 269

Hate Crimes Are Down? 272

Turning the Page 274

Learning to Say Good-bye 278

State of the Union 281

Afterword 285

Acknowledgments 315

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Like Me 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 113 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.
schatzi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book starts out detailing Chely Wright's low point in life; alone and teetering on the edge of a breakdown, she contemplates suicide. But, thankfully, she doesn't do it. Instead, she decides to come out of the closet, in spite of the potential consequences to her career, not only to her family and friends, but to the world.While a typical memoir in many regards - Ms. Wright details her childhood, which wasn't idyllic, as well as her rise to stardom and her involvement in USO shows for the troops stationed overseas - she also talks about gay rights, why being gay isn't a choice (I honestly do not know HOW anyone could argue with a straight face that being gay is a choice nowadays), and how being closeted might have made her career happen but she lost a lot, and hurt many people, along the way.Sometimes the book seems disjointed and out of order - there's an anecdote about how her parents treated her sister Jeny, calling her fat and tying her up to the back of a car to make her run, that feels out of place (and horrifying!) - but, altogether, the memoir is a great read. It shows how keeping secrets about your sexual identity harms both you and those around you. There are times when the book made me cry, because I could so relate to what Ms. Wright had experienced. I'm obviously not a country star, and I don't live my life in any sort of limelight, but I understand how she struggled with keeping her secret quiet from her family in fear of how they would react (I still haven't told anyone in my family, and likely never will), and how sometimes those who are most vocal about homosexuality being a sin are struggling with their own gayness (sigh...been there, done that). And to keep going through the tired tracks of convincing yourself that you're not REALLY gay, that it's just a phase, or just this person, or whatever. It's hard and sad and depressing. I recommend this book; you don't have to be interested in country music to enjoy it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a good book.Read it all in one night.