Willie Nelson Reschedules; Country Hall of Fame to Reopen this Weekend; Country Stars Lose Millions In Gear

Brody Vercher | May 6th, 2010

  • Willie Nelson canceled or rescheduled eight of his upcoming shows.
  • In his latest blog post, Robbie Fulks ponders the similarities in the music and book industries and attempts to clarify what role labels will play, if any, in the future.
  • Chely Wright talked to EW.com’s Whitney Pastorek at length about her decision to come out and what she thinks the ramifications of that decision will be. They also cover the role two other country stars had in her life: Brad Paisley, whom Wright was on some level romantically involved, and John Rich, who made a comment a number of years ago that Wright says caused her to suffer a meltdown.

    From Access Hollywood:

    “[John] said, ‘You’re not gay are you?!’ I said, ‘No, John, I’m not.’ He said, ‘Good, thank God.’ And that began a spiral for me,” the 39-year-old singer recalled. “I had a meltdown shortly after that.”

    Rich himself responded to the accusations on Wednesday:

    “I would never pass judgment on any friend of mine. I feel awful that, at this time in Chely’s life, my decade old comment – ‘Good, thank God’ – was taken the wrong way,” he told Access in a statement.

    “I was clumsily trying to express my relief that even a country boy like me had a one-in-a-million chance of having a beer with a woman as talented and attractive as Chely,” the statement continued.

  • Farce the Music is giving away two copies of Willie Nelson‘s album Country Music.
  • The Boot listed 10 sad loves songs in country music. Take a guess at which song tops the list.
  • Larry Gatlin did coke at the White House.
  • Willie Nelson on sad songs: (via Nashville Gab)

    ‘We enjoy making ourselves feel sad. People will pay good money to come and cry. Give me a hundred bucks for a ticket and I’ll make you cry!’

    And are there any that make him cry? ‘You do have to be careful singing these songs over and over again because they can become self-fulfilling. Some of my songs I find quite painful to sing because they remind me of certain times in my life.

    ‘There are some I have written and recorded which I don’t perform for that reason. I don’t want to go back there.

  • The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum plans to reopen this weekend. Fortunately, the exhibits were unaffected by the recent flood.
  • Damage at at Soundcheck Nashville, a facility where stars rent space to store their gear, is estimated to be in the tens of millions. Brad Paisley lost most of his gear. So did Keith Urban. And Steve Wariner. Word has it that Vince Gill may have lost the majority of his guitar collection too, which included irreplaceable vintage pieces with historic value.
  • Nashville Scene: Elizabeth Cook‘s latest, Welder, proves a total hipster can make a great country record
  • Results from a new study conclude that there isn’t a clear relationship between the decline in sales and file sharing, but rather problems in the recording industry are from its lack of innovation.
  1. Noeller
    May 6, 2010 at 11:35 am

    As soon as I read CW’s quote of what JR had said to her, I knew exactly what he meant. It’s not a “I dislike people being gay”, it’s “You’re SO hot!” and certainly is too bad that it was taken outta context and caused so much emotional harm for CW. I think a lot of guys probably felt that way when CW announced she was gay – “Damn! Lost another good one!” :) Good on ya for doing what makes ya happy, Chely – haters be damned!!

  2. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    John Rich said: “I was clumsily trying to express my relief that even a country boy like me had a one-in-a-million chance of having a beer with a woman as talented and attractive as Chely,”

    I actually believe that that’s probably what he meant. I can see why Chely took it the wrong way though, especially if it was a secret that had been swirling around inside her. Seems like an unfortunate miscommunication between them.

    I know how much people are attached to their guitars, so I feel terrible for the artists who lost so many of theirs. I’m glad the HOF is okay though.

  3. Katie
    May 6, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    The exact John Rich quote, per her Today show appearance yesterday was, “Hey, you’ve got to hit this gay thing head on, you’re not gay, are you? If you are, people won’t have it. It’s sick, it’s deviant; it’s unacceptable to country music fans.” I’d like to see him explain that one away.

  4. t.scott
    May 6, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    I understand that it has been long time since Nashville flooded.But why would you put places like the Hall of Fame ,Opryhouse and a storage facilty for irreplaceable treasures in a flood zone?Do they not have zoning laws in Nashville?I think I read that it flooded in the 60′s.

  5. TimeO
    May 6, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Re Chely Wright: It’s funny, I always disliked her “Bumper of My SUV” song — not because it was kind of lightweight jingoism, but because of the ridiculous assumption it made: She gets flipped off by a woman in a minivan, and immediately knows with certainty it’s because she has a Marine Corp bumper sticker on her SUV. I’ve been flipped off in traffic, and I have neither an SUV nor a Marine Corp sticker. Maybe Chely cut the offending female off in traffic. Maybe she didn’t properly yield. Maybe the lady was just crazy. Whatever, the assumption was, “She hates me because I support the military,” and that formed the basis of the entire song. I read the EW article you linked to, and she’s doing the same thing: saying twice Brad Paisley’s religious beliefs “would lead him to condemn my homosexuality” and presuming what John Rich’s reaction will be — the same piety and paranoia that showed up in her song. I guess songs really do reflect the writer’s personality.

  6. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Katie,
    I haven’t seen the Today Show interview, but if that’s the case, you’re right.

  7. Stormy
    May 6, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    “I was clumsily trying to express my relief that even a country boy like me had a one-in-a-million chance of having a beer with a woman as talented and attractive as Chely,” the statement continued.

    Take heart John–there are plenty of straight women out there who won’t date you either.

  8. PaulaW
    May 6, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    After reading the interview (several times) I get the impression that she’s gonna be downright mad if everyone doesnt hate her and shun her. I think she’s almost pre-staging her excuse if her new music doesnt do well. (Kind of a “well, I told you they would shun me. I know it cant be because they dont like the new songs, it has to be because I’m gay. See I told you it would happen. I was right.”)

  9. Matt Bjorke
    May 6, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Paula,

    That perception is certainly plausible as many gay people internalize then externalize the perceived hate they feel and then, after coming out when people generally accept them for who they are, they still feel the need to hate themselves…it’s insane.

  10. Craig R.
    May 6, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    As a gay man, I have often heard things that are offensive from people who meant no harm to me or gay people in general. I am sure when you are in the closet, trying very hard to stay in, you are uptight about the subject. Based on other comments by John Rich he probably meant she was hot…and he hates homosexuals.

    I agree that for some people their faith, their bigotry, and just their plain stupidity keeps them from understanding and embracing their gay cousins. But you can’t paint a broad brush with that thought. I think the better your music is,the more people can connect, the less they care about your sexuality. And if they do care then it wouldn’t matter if your music was good or bad.

    I am glad that Ms. Wright feels free to be herself. I am also sadden by the lack of vocal support she has been given from the rest of the country music industry. I will chalk it up to the flood which is far more important than who someone wants to date.

  11. Pierce
    May 6, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    I have really disliked how Chely has handled this whole situation. It’s nothing but a ploy to sell more books and albums. She’s had an average (at best) career that has run its course already… coming out will not change that course.

    This reminds me of a huge media ploy that I saw a few years ago. John Amaechi, who was essentially a consistent NBA sub, came out in a book. The news was splashed up on ESPN as BREAKING and he got like 30 SportsCenter spots. Oh yeah, and who was publishing his book? ESPN Books, Inc. That’s downright scary.

    (Change of subject)

    T. Scott, some are calling this a “500-year” flood. A 19-foot river swelled to more than 51-feet. That’s not a normal circumstance. If Vince Gill bought flood insurance, he probably could have justified buying alien-abduction insurance and atomic bomb insurance, as well. That’s how unusually devastating this flood was. Not even close to the 1970 or 1937 flood.

  12. Brady Vercher
    May 6, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Actually, TimeO, Chely Wright didn’t make any ridiculous assumptions in “Bumper of My S.U.V.” You might like to read the story behind the song in Chris Willman’s article.

    Based on that interview, I do think she’s making a lot of ridiculous assumptions and generalizations about other things, though.

  13. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    I don’t think she’s making ridiculous generalizations about the mainstream country community/fan base though. Comments at the CMT blog will confirm her assumptions…and I consider the CMT blog commenters a pretty good snapshot of the pulse of the average mainstream country fan.

  14. Katie
    May 6, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    I’m not sure why it’s so hard to believe Chely — or any celebrity who comes out of the closet — likely has *some* altruistic motives. I have no doubt she’s hoping to move some books and albums, but from her descriptions of how alone she felt, I’d imagine she’s also hoping her announcement will inspire some people to do the same. And also just to challenge the status quo in country music, even though her career has been over for some time. I think there’s value in saying, “You can’t always believe what country music tries to sell you.”

  15. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Let me just say that Chris Willman’s thoughtful article is the best thing that I’ve read on this topic so far. Thanks for sharing it, Brady.

    Katie, I agree with you.

  16. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Ha … And Willman’s references to Drunken Martina tweets is priceless.:)

  17. PaulaW
    May 6, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    I cant – and wont – pretend to know what anyone in her shoes would feel …. but I just sensed a lot of anger in her responses, whereas I thought ‘coming out’ was supposed to offer some relief and peace. (Admittedly it’s hard to gauge whether it’s really anger or anxiety or whatever with the written word since we cant hear her tone of voice or see her facial expressions in this interview). That’s just my perception of it.

  18. t.scott
    May 6, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    @pierce.Insurance is beside the point for something irreplaceable,whether a musical instrument or a Van Gogh.This is a tragedy made worse by a lack of foresight.Maybe I am more conscious of flooding because I lived all my life on a ranch that was isolated by flooding on a regular basis.We lost livestock annually due to flooding .All construction on the ranch was done with flooding in mind.I did a quick google on flooding in Nashville and in 1927 the Cumberland was over 50 feet. That isn’t 500 years.Hopefully the city of Nashville (and developers) will take this disaster into account in the future when planning new development.

  19. t.scott
    May 6, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    As far as CW goes,I hope she is happy.In the immortal words of Ricky Nelson,”you can’t please everyone ,so you got to please yourself”.
    When it comes to other’s opinions ,small minds only get small ideas.

  20. Jon
    May 6, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Seems to me that if someone publishes a book that includes a revelation of sexual orientation and simultaneously releases an album on which some songs are related to that topic, calling the process of publicizing said book and album “nothing but a ploy to sell more books and albums” kind of misses the point big time. What’s Wright supposed to do, NOT talk about the book’s contents?

    It’s also worth noting that once again, folks seem to be buying into the mainstream’s proposition that it’s the only arena that counts in country music. The fact is that legions of artists have found it to be the case that country music fans are exceedingly – maybe even excessively – loyal, continuing to shell out to see and hear artists long after they’ve disappeared from mainstream country radio. So arguing that Wright couldn’t hurt her standing with country music fans by coming out because she’s not on mainstream country radio any more is more than a little suspect. Unless you think that all those folks who go out to see artists like Gene Watson, Merle Haggard, Ray Price, etc., etc., etc. somehow aren’t country music fans.

    T. Scott, you tell us that you “annually” lose assets to flooding, and then castigate Nashvillains for a lack of foresight? Does the phrase “physician, heal thyself” resonate at all? And BTW, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum was essentially not flooded; someone’s feeding you bad information.

  21. Drew
    May 6, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    lol, just keep piling on the hate for Rich. He already explained himself.

  22. Stormy
    May 6, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Drew: The problem is John Rich’s assumption that lesbianism rather than intelligence or good taste would keep Chely Wright from sleeping with him.

  23. t.scott
    May 6, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    @jon ,The assets lost are considered a cost of doing business,sort of like theft in retail.Can you tell me the artifacts that will be damaged in the Hall of Fame,can or will be considered the same way?I stated construction was undertaken with flooding in mind.We also do our best to mitigate livestock losses.My point is that saying this is a 500 year event,so nothing should change, is short sighted.Not foreseeing it COULD happen was also shortsighted.

  24. t.scott
    May 6, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Jon ,I re-read your post RE:the HOF and opryhouse.Sorry,I was using National news reports.

  25. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Chely would have some explaining to do, anyway, after people heard “Like Me.” So, I’m in agreement with Jon. It almost only seems to make sense that she announces along with the book and album release. Ditto to Jon’s second paragraph too.

  26. sam (sam)
    May 6, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Whether coming out was or wasn’t a “mere ploy to sell more albums” is not that important to me. I assume that musicians and entertainers – just like people in many other fields – want to get publicity and in fact have to get publicity if their professional careers are to continue. I cannot blame them for seeking publicity, so long as they do it in an ethical and moral way that does not needlessly hurt others.

    I can’t see that she has done anything “wrong” here. I don’t see how anyone has gotten hurt. In fact, I think she has done something good. By coming out she may well benefit herself (if that sells more albums, if it helps her feel at peace with herself, or whatnot) but I think it will also benefit many other people. It seems likely that some will read her story and perhaps find some comfort in it. Perhaps straight people will read her story and gain a more sympathetic view toward the plight of people in situations similar to Chely’s.

    I know that some will say that this is a mere ploy for publicity. Even if it is, why is that bad? Some things deserve publicity. The public should know about them. This is one of those times.

  27. idlewildsouth
    May 6, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    To go further with what Jon said, I never understand why people have an issue with an artist doing something as a ploy to sell more albums. Their job is to sell more albums, so….

    That breaks my heart about all of those guitars. Obviously, in the scheme of things they don’t matter when you consider people lost their homes and lives, but still, being some what of a guitar collector myself I know how much they mean and how treasured they are. When you consider that a lot of songs have been written on these instruments, and those songs can often times hold such a special place in your heart for various reasons, it’s a really heartbreaking loss.

    Given the Hall and Soundcheck’s location, it’s a little righteous to put the blame on the people storing their things there. There really wasn’t any real history to point towards this flooding happening. Most of the flooding occurred before the Cumberland breached, so most of the damage was due to the pouring rain, as opposed to the rising river.

  28. Brady Vercher
    May 6, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Jon, you act like not talking about the book’s contents is the only alternative. It’s not like she couldn’t have made the announcement without the release of an album or book. Furthermore, the album was originally slated for release in 2008, but it’s been pushed back a couple times before finally seeing the light of day a year and a half later, which coincidentally coincides with the timing of her announcement and release of a book. Draw your own conclusions, but you’re way off saying people are missing the point “big time.”

    And her career can’t really be compared to the likes of Gene Watson, Merle Haggard, and Ray Price. It’s not even comparable to the careers of Trisha Yearwood, Pam Tillis, or Patty Loveless and they’ve had limited commercial success over the past decade.

  29. Matt Bjorke
    May 6, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    For What it’s worth, the CMHOF did get flooded in the basement and the theater. The staff at the CMHOF took the artifacts that absolutely meant the most and moved them to ‘safe’ locations within the HOF.

  30. Peter
    May 6, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    As a radio dude, I met Chely once years ago when SWF was climbing the charts; I wasn’t drunk and didn’t grab her a** though we did have a pleasant moment or two before she had to leave. After reading that EW interview, I have a new admiration for her and wish her nothing but the best

  31. Razor X
    May 6, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    That whole interview with EW made me feel a lot less — not more — sympathetic for Chely. It’s one thing to want to be honest about who she is, but not only is she seeking to profit from it by writing a book about it, she’s being very presumptuous about how the country music community will treat her. She left Nashville and recorded an album (which is pretty good, BTW) that she herself says is not country and then complains about being frozen out? And she’s being presumptuous again about whether or not she’ll be invited to perform for the troops. She seems to be pushing a political agenda — blaming Bush and Cheney for the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that was put in place by the Clinton administration.

    Chely never got the amount of commercial success that she deserved. It’s a shame that she’s going to end up being remembered as one of country music’s first performers to come out of the closet. I suppose she thinks that is better than not being remembered at all.

  32. Jon
    May 6, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Does Ms. Wright’s book *not* include discussion of her sexual orientation? Is there any way that the book could or should be publicized without reference to that? Should she have just randomly selected a day on which to announce her sexual orientation? Come on, now. A publicity stunt is something that’s essentially faked for the purpose of drawing attention; that’s not what’s happening here, and you know it.

    And the point about her career is that it is, indeed, comparable to that of every country artist, big or small, who had a period of mainstream popularity and who continued or continues to pursue a performing and recording career after disappearing from said mainstream. The persistence of fan enthusiasm and support is one of the most striking features of the country music industry. She has an audience, it’s essentially a country music audience, and she is, indeed, taking a risk by sharing this news about herself.

  33. Jon
    May 6, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    For What it’s worth, the CMHOF did get flooded in the basement and the theater. The staff at the CMHOF took the artifacts that absolutely meant the most and moved them to ’safe’ locations within the HOF.

    Well, no, and pictures make clear why (see, for instance, the photo at http://bit.ly/des65u – it’s about the 8th one in). Here’s the most relevant and detailed portion from yesterday’s press release:

    “We would also like to thank all of our friends and patrons who have expressed concern about our situation and offered to help,” [Director] Young continued. “The Museum has sustained minor damage, but the exhibits and collections-located on the second, third and fourth floors of the building-are safe and dry and were never in danger. Emergency generators are powering climate control systems to keep the collection safe and to allow crews to work on cleanup.”

    At the height of the downtown flooding on Monday, the Museum had five and a half feet of water in one of its mechanical rooms, which is located below ground level. Water also came into the Ford Theater, which is at street level on the corner of Fourth Avenue South and Demonbreun Street. The theater sustained some minor damage, and personnel from American Constructors (which built the Museum) have already begun repair and restoration efforts.”

    Note the “were never in danger.”

  34. Josh
    May 6, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    I’m not sure if I like a country artist dissing another (think the whole Billy Ray Cyrus and Travis Tritt head-butting all over again). I think Chely should have made peace with Brad Paisley BEFORE publicizing this. To me, Brad has moved on and found his partner…not to mention a solid career. Now I have to wonder what Kim will be thinking…TMI??

  35. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    I’m not used to agreeing so fully with Jon, but…:)

    I guess I’m mostly unsettled by words like “stunt” and “ploy” regarding this situation. I understand that the timing is suspect to a lot of people, but those words suggest that she’s faking being gay to sell albums and books, which seems rather dismissive to me.

    It seems like it would have been pointless for her to even write a book if she left out her orientation, especially since it’s known that she suffered from depression for awhile, as is reflected in the album. I don’t think it’s the first time that a book and album have been released simultaneously, especially when they seem like they might be companion pieces (though I haven’t read the book). I think it makes sense for them to be released on the same day, anyway. In that case, it also makes sense for her to address the subject in the same week.

    I did note the “don’t ask, don’t tell” thing that Chely said though. I wonder if she meant that she was mad at Bush and Chaney for not revoking it, since she said that she’ll be angry at Obama if he doesn’t change it?

  36. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Did she “dis” Paisley? She did speculate about his reaction, but she also emphicized that he was a good person, more than once. She had to discuss him though, since it’s well documented that they were involved at one point, including songwriting and musical collaborations.

  37. Stormy
    May 6, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    I did not read the interview but was it possible that she was blaming George HW Bush and his Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney for not supporting Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and for creating an Army for which Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was a step forward. Dick Cheney was widely believed to be behind some of the gay witch hunts which made Don’t Ask Don’t Tell necessary.

  38. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    Stormy,
    I thought Chaney was pro gay marriage, because of his daughter who is gay?

  39. Steve M.
    May 6, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Does the Army Corp of Engineers consider Nashville being in a flood plain? if so, I would think those storage places would have to have flood insurance. I remember growing up in Albuquerque thinking it funny that my parent’s house was required by the terms of their mortgage to have it because we were in the middle of the desert, until one fierce storm led to the storm arrayo behind the house to overflow.

  40. Blake Boldt
    May 6, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Brady: Based on that interview, I do think she’s making a lot of ridiculous assumptions and generalizations about other things, though.

    Care to share which parts in particular?

    Pierce: I have really disliked how Chely has handled this whole situation. It’s nothing but a ploy to sell more books and albums. She’s had an average (at best) career that has run its course already… coming out will not change that course.

    I can’t imagine any scenario where Chely sells gold or platinum again, but I wouldn’t call her career a complete wash. An announcement like this was bound to draw attention. Music industry folks love a little rich backstory to peddle when selling records.

    Razor X: Chely never got the amount of commercial success that she deserved. It’s a shame that she’s going to end up being remembered as one of country music’s first performers to come out of the closet. I suppose she thinks that is better than not being remembered at all.

    From your vantage point, is there no upside—for Chely or the country music industry—in this admission?

    The album isn’t country, but I would still consider Chely part of the Nashville community. I don’t think she could give a damn about country radio and the “system.” I also don’t think it’s inaccurate to point a finger at horny radio folks who treat their artists (read: women) like sex objects. She goes to great pains to express her admiration to fans. I’m sure she’d like some pockets of support in the industry, too, though she’s not chasing major success within their ranks anymore.

    —-

    I’ve read the book, and Jon Rich’s passage paints him as a homophobic doofus, though he can be charming in the right setting. There’s no other way to interpret what he said. Brad Paisley’s portrayal as a wet-behind-the-ears kid with stiff ideals doesn’t seem like such a stretch either, though his generally pleasant personality and really shows through as well.

  41. Dan Milliken
    May 6, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    As Leeann touched on, I have a really hard time believing that Chely would come out just for publicity’s sake. I think she came out primarily because she wanted to connect more authentically with fans and perhaps do her part to shed light on an issue that country music has mostly ignored. Clearly she chose her timing to coincide with the release of the book and album, and that does leave a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, but that’s also just the reality of marketing works of art. When all is said and done, I don’t think she wrote the album or the book so she could make money; she did so because she personally wanted to.

    And if she seems presumptuous about reactions, perhaps we can attribute that to the fact that she’s been a quiet lesbian in Nashville for years before this and has had a lot of time to observe the conduct of those around her. The John Rich thing may or may not have been misinterpreted (I don’t know who to believe on that one, honestly), but I doubt it was the only time she witnessed someone in the South say or do something disparaging toward gays. Same goes for all her time performing for troops.

  42. Stormy
    May 6, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    Leeann: That wasn’t until 2009.

  43. Razor X
    May 6, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    I understand that the timing is suspect to a lot of people, but those words suggest that she’s faking being gay to sell albums and books, which seems rather dismissive to me.

    Nobody is suggesting that she’s faking being gay. But she does seem to be exploiting it for commercial purposes.

  44. Razor X
    May 6, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    From your vantage point, is there no upside—for Chely or the country music industry—in this admission?

    Pretty much. I can understand her desire to be honest about who she is, but I think she could have handled it a lot better. If she were currently enjoying tremendous commercial success like Carrie Underwood, for example, the publicity would be inevitable. But she’s at a point in her career where she’s really not in the limelight much (until now). She could have come out without all the fanfare and just gotten on with her life without sharing all of these intimate details.

    I don’t see an upside or a downside for the industry. I don’t see how this changes a thing about the industry one way or the other, because Chely Wright just not that important to the industry.

  45. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    Yes, the timing may be unfortunate, but I also think that it makes sense as well, for the reasons that I’ve stated above/the reasons that Jon has outlined.

    I don’t see anything wrong with her writing a book and releasing it with her album (as I said above). And if she’s going to write a book, it makes sense that she discusses this big thing about herself in it. I suppose she could have just released the book and album without offering any kind of explanation until the first person asked her after reading it, but that’s no way to have control of one’s own situation, which I can’t blame her for wanting to have.

  46. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    I don’t know how the album would have fared without this announcement, but I had been reading a fair amount of buzz around the album beforehand. Maybe because Rodney Crowell was producing it (that’s why I was looking forward to it). I doubt it would have had mainstream commercial success (radio), but I suspect it was poised to do pretty well, at least receive some good critical acclaim. So, I can’t see the announcement as a desperate move to revive a dead career.

  47. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Stormy,
    Far be it from me to defend Dick Chaney, but while you may be right about his involvement in the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, his pro gay marriage stance was at least a few years before 2009, at least 2004.

  48. Brady Vercher
    May 6, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Way to conveniently ignore the sliding album release date, Jon. I’m not saying what she should or shouldn’t have done, but she could have randomly selected a day to come out. It was an option. She’s known about her sexuality for a long, long time, and wrote the songs five years ago. She worked on the book for three years, waiting until just before its release to make her announcement. This was a carefully calculated move to maximize the benefit of the publicity from her revelation. If you want to deny that, go ahead, and like I said, people can draw their own conclusions.

    And I have to think support from the gay and lesbian community would easily offset country fans lost from her announcement, mitigating any assumed risk to an extent.

    —–

    @Blake: her anger towards Bush and Cheney for “don’t ask, don’t tell” for one. She preemptively criticizes Nashville for freezing her out, although she’s the one who left Nashville, released an album that isn’t country (per her admission in the interview), and isn’t really promoting it to country radio. It sounds like she’s guaranteeing the outcome she’s predicting.

    Trisha Yearwood had a more successful career and when she released a superior album a couple years ago, Nashville yawned. But if Wright’s album flops, she’s setting it up so that it’s because she’s a lesbian and Nashville froze her out.

    The more I read about it, the more I dislike the way she’s handling the whole thing and the more she comes across as opportunistic and selfish.

  49. Razor X
    May 6, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    She could have come clean without writing a book. Actually, without the coming out, there is no book. I don’t imagine many people would have been interested in reading about Chely Wright without this revelation, which is why it seems like she’s trying to capitalize on it.

  50. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    You’re right that there probably isn’t a book without the admission and the depression leading up to it, but I can’t fault her for wanting to write about it.

    @Brady. While she may gain support from the gay and lesbian community, I’m sure it won’t replace the loss she’ll feel from losing fans from the country music community, as I’m sure she’s considered many of them friends/treasured fans for the past 15 years or so.

    I’m not saying that she’s gone all about this in a perfect way, but I’m just not able to condemn her for how’s she’s handled it. It’s a situation I can’t even begin to grasp on a personal level. I certainly don’t think that she’s wrong for trying to have some control of how this announcement affects her career. I also think she’d be pretty naive to say that she thinks the Nashville community and mainstream fans will be all supportive and happy for her. To me, she’s saying her truth rather than setting people up for a self-fulfilling prophesy or an excuse for her album to bomb. To me, that’s reaching.

  51. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Brady,
    I see why you might say she’s being opportunistic, but I don’t see the selfish part.

  52. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    The most regrettable thing about this is that her announcement has overshadowed that she’s released a very solid album. To that end, if this is a big ol’ marketing ploy, she’s failed miserably, since I’m sure she still truly cares about her art.

  53. Dan Milliken
    May 6, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    “Trisha Yearwood had a more successful career and when she released a superior album a couple years ago, Nashville yawned. But if Wright’s album flops, she’s setting it up so that it’s because she’s a lesbian and Nashville froze her out.”

    I just don’t get that vibe in the interview, although feel free to point out if I missed something that indicates it (read it yesterday). She freely acknowledges that they’re not courting country radio much anyway, so I doubt she’ll be attributing the commercial success or failure of the album to Nashville. What she does seem to be saying is that she expects to be “freezed out” in more nuanced social ways within the Nashville community.

  54. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    It’s interesting how people can read the same thing, but come away with very diffferent perceptions. When I first heard the rumor that she was going to come out in People, I really tried to keep an open mind about her timing until I read the first interview from her (which I thought was going to be the People article). I, however, found myself drifting to the same basic annoyance that she was announcing on the same day as the album and book release. But then after reading the EW article, I really felt better about it and felt that she was refreshing, honest and realistic.

  55. Jon
    May 6, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    Way to conveniently ignore the sliding album release date, Jon.

    Do you have some kind of inside information on what accounted for the changed release date that you’d like to share with us? Because if not, then it seems to me that reading some significance into it is a bad idea.

    I’m not saying what she should or shouldn’t have done, but she could have randomly selected a day to come out. It was an option.

    Well, sure it was an option. So was staying in the closet. Neither are very good options. Maybe you’re not aware of the concept, but the whole point of coming out publicly is to draw attention to the fact that gay and lesbian people are involved in every aspect of life; they’re friends and neighbors and family members and public figures whom we admire and relate to. And honestly, it looks to me like that’s the problem here – people are wishing that she hadn’t brought up something so uncomfortable, so they’re basically suggesting that she should have stayed in the closet. Nice “option.”

  56. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    And honestly, it looks to me like that’s the problem here – people are wishing that she hadn’t brought up something so uncomfortable, so they’re basically suggesting that she should have stayed in the closet.

    I’ve gotten the same sense from other “discussions” on this topic (not specifically here). I don’t think “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is right for the military and I don’t agree with it in this instance either.

  57. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    And I love the Yearwood album, but I’m not ready to call it superior to Wright’s just yet.

  58. Brady Vercher
    May 6, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    No one here has suggested Chely Wright should have stayed in the closet, Jon. But nice job throwing out such a lazy argument. It was bound to happen. Congrats on being the first.

    Anyways, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and just shut up.

  59. Michelle
    May 6, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    “but I doubt it was the only time she witnessed someone in the South do or say something disparaging towards gays.” Last time I checked homophobes are everywhere not just in the south. Narrow-minded people live in places other than the south, too!

  60. Blake Boldt
    May 6, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    @Brady: Regarding the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” section, it could’ve been worded a wee bit better on her end. The Bush/Cheney regime was obviously not the creator of the policy, though the Republican party is clearly more conservative w/r/t gay issues. I feel she’s pretty equal opportunity in spreading her dislike of it, given that she also mentioned Obama and her desire to see him act as well. I think the difference, in her mind at least, is in their intentions; Bush/Cheney have not typically supported the advancement of gay rights. Obama, though it’s been done timidly at times, has done so.

    —-

    Over one million people commit suicide every year, and an alarming number of those deaths are the result of a person’s struggle with their sexuality, compounded by the hatred—implicit or explicit—expressed by their families, friends and the community at large. If just one potential victim reads the book and reverses course as a result of Chely’s “example,” then I think it’s a success. No matter how minor a celebrity she may seem, she is a public figure in a traditionally conservative field.

    Chely may not be a prime factor in country music at this stage in her career, but there are performers working in this industry who are gay and I would like to think that one day down the line her announcement will inspire others in similar situations. Will Chely sell a few extra records to the GLBT community and its supporters because of the announcement? Sure. But how many mainstream albums don’t have some sort of calculation—intended or otherwise—behind them?

    Nashville is home to one of Chely’s residences, and though she’s not hanging her hat at country radio, she’s part of the community in other ways. As a long-time member of the industry (Once a member, always a member?), I’m sure she would love some support from her peers. That seems important to her. I don’t get the idea that she’s expected their support in a musical sense, especially since she does admit it’s not a country album and is not marketing it as such.

  61. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Brady, not here, but elsewhere.

  62. Razor X
    May 6, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    As a long-time member of the industry (Once a member, always a member?), I’m sure she would love some support from her peers. That seems important to her.

    Which is why she shouldn’t presume publicly that she isn’t going to get it.

  63. Jon
    May 6, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    So, Razor X, as a member of the industry, what have you done to show your support?

  64. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    I’d have to go back and read the interview, but did she just say that she was going to get it or was she asked if she thought she would? If she was asked, I think it only makes sense for her to be honest, which is that she doesn’t think that she will. It would be disengenuous for her to publicly presume that she would, since that’s not the way the industry leans…one instance where John Rich is correct. In fact, it would be naive of her and people would probably say that she is manipulating the other way in that case.

  65. Razor X
    May 6, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    So, Razor X, as a member of the industry, what have you done to show your support?

    I never claimed to be a member of the industry.

  66. K
    May 6, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    While I was one of those people who intially found Chely’s big “coming out” annoucement to be an induligent publicity ploy, I have yet to gain anything from reading Chely’s comments to EW.

    Yes, she wanted to come out to help others. She’s not a big time star, so that leads me to question if she thinks her story will have a bigger impact than a marginal one, considering the fact that most people don’t know who she is?

    I was really put off by her comment that she’s “not proud of being gay.” Really? How is portraying yourself as insecure gay woman going to inspire people? If anything, they may remain ashamed after foolishly thinking she was doing so because she’s secure with herself.

    Chely was never a huge country music star. This annoucement will extend her fame and maybe help a few people here and there, but most people will forget about her once it all blows over.

    I don’t live in Nashvile so I don’t know how people in the South preceive sexuality, but from what I’ve read this annoucement isn’t going to gain her many friends. At the same time though, it’s discouraging that she assumes country fans and Nashvile will ALL shun her.

  67. Jon
    May 6, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Well, then, you don’t really have any insight whatsoever about whether Ms. Wright, who *is* a member of the industry, is “presuming” or not, do you?

  68. Blake Boldt
    May 6, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    I was really put off by her comment that she’s “not proud of being gay.” Really? How is portraying yourself as insecure gay woman going to inspire people? If anything, they may remain ashamed after foolishly thinking she was doing so because she’s secure with herself.

    I interpret this as Chely saying she’s proud of Chely the whole person and not just proud of her sexuality.

  69. Stormy
    May 6, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    K: So far the most resounding response to Chely’s coming out is “Wait, who?”

  70. Razor X
    May 6, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    Well, then, you don’t really have any insight whatsoever about whether Ms. Wright, who *is* a member of the industry, is “presuming” or not, do you?

    Actually, I do, since the EW interview, Wright stated that she expected to be “frozen out”, that her single would be dropped by the radio stations that had been playing it, and that she would not be invited to perform for the troops again. But I’m sure you’ll quickly go to work telling me why I am wrong.

  71. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    Brady said: “Anyways, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and just shut up”

    I honestly think a discourse about this is beneficial.

    Jon asks: ” So, Razor X, as a member of the industry, what have you done to show your support?”

    Getting that kind of personal seems counterproductive to what I consider to be a pretty thoughtful discussion.

    K said: “I was really put off by her comment that she’s “not proud of being gay.” Really? How is portraying yourself as insecure gay woman going to inspire…”

    I don’t think she’s portraying herself as an insecure gay woman at all. I think the line about not being proud to be gay was more of a qualifier/connecter to her next sentence, “I’m proud that I’m about to live my life honestly.” I think there’s some deeper texture to the “I’m not necessarily proud of being gay” remark that you took on a surface level. To me, the paragraph that you found the line shows a woman who is comfortable (and proud) of who she is:

    She says “It’s the secret haters who do the most harm, historically. And that’s the thing with the internet. Somebody wrote a really nasty Twitter about me lately. And I thought, you know what? I can’t wait until I’m in charge of that rumor, that whisper. I’m proud of who I am. I’m not necessarily proud of being gay. I’m proud that I’m about to live my life honestly. I won’t be a whisper. I’m too proud of who I am. I’ve been too good a steward of my life.

  72. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    To try to clarify, I think “I’m not necessarily proud of being gay” seemed like an awkward way of saying “it’s not that I’m necessarily proud of being gay, but…”, which takes on a different meaning than “I’m not proud of being gay.” I only think this in light of the rest of the paragraph that surrounds that sentence. I could be wrong; it’s just how I took it when I read it.

  73. Razor X
    May 6, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Leeann, I interpreted her comment the same way you did — that she’s not proud of herself because she’s gay — which in and of itself is nothing to be proud or ashamed of, that there are more facets to her than just her sexual orientation.

  74. Vicki
    May 6, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    Uh..changing the subject completely, Tonight was a great night for Country music. Vince Gill and friends put on a great gift of music along with their money toward the Nashville relief effort. Each performance was memoriable but it was sad to hear that Vince’s first guitar given to him by his Dad could be loss, also that Jeannie Seely and Julie Roberts lost everything. To end it with “Go Rest High On that Mountain” for the ones who have lost their lives to this flood was priceless. Even more priceless was the very unexpected shout at the end from Vince “Go Ahead and see if you can follow THAT Jay Leno” LOL

  75. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    I’m proud that Vince is my favorite artist.

  76. Michelle
    May 6, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    Chely Wright won’t lose fans or get shunned. If her album doesn’t do as well as expected, she’ll assume it had something to do with her “coming out.” Those are my predictions!(and I’m usually right)LOL! The people saying,”She should’ve stayed in the closet” more than likely aren’t her fans or even know who she is. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

  77. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    What does “as expected” mean in your prediction?

  78. Jon
    May 6, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    Right, Razor. Wright, a member of the industry for a couple of decades, offered up her ideas about what kind of reactions she might get from that industry. You take her to task for “presuming” what those reactions are going to be, then deny that you have any real grounds for doing so. If that’s the case, your reproof is at best ignorant; if it’s not the case, and you do in fact have some insight into the industry by virtue of being a part of it – a fair characterization of someone who writes for publication – then it’s not unreasonable to ask whether your reaction is in line with or runs counter to what Wright’s “presuming.” You’ve kind of tangled yourself up on this one.

  79. Michelle
    May 6, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    If the album doesn’t do well. That’s what I should have said, since I don’t know what her expectations are!

  80. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    In response to K, Blake said: “I interpret this as Chely saying she’s proud of Chely the whole person and not just proud of her sexuality.”

    That’s what I was trying to get at in much less clear terms.

  81. Leeann Ward
    May 6, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Razor X said: ” Leeann, I interpreted her comment the same way you did — that she’s not proud of herself because she’s gay — which in and of itself is nothing to be proud or ashamed of, that there are more facets to her than just her sexual orientation.”

    Ditto.

    Likewise, I’m not necessarily proud to be heterosexual, I just am. It is what it is, which is what I also think she meant.

  82. Jordan Stacey
    May 7, 2010 at 12:27 am

    So about the release date thing, when she was starting to record the album 5 years ago she took her time with it (plus there was a label change if I’m not mistaken), so it should have been out in let’s say 2007, but then she says she wanted to write a book which she started 3 years ago. All this time she’s struggling with depression. The book would be dealing with her acceptance of the fact that she’s gay so she decides to rework the album to also express this joy. The title changed from Notes to The Coroner to Lifted Off The Ground. The first title sounds kinda depressing which is what she was feeling while recording. The way I see it she moved back the album’s release date so the book could explain the feelings of coming out better, which would be a focus of the album, hence the slightly more hopeful title “Lifted Off The Ground”. They timed the album to be ready when the book was ready. That could have been the reason behind the release date change but I’m just making assumptions. Now the argument on why she didn’t just come out while nothing was going on is as Leeann said probably done so she had some control over it, so she had the book and album to explain things better. I wish I could have an entire book written to help me come out, it would work so much better.

  83. Rick
    May 7, 2010 at 1:02 am

    Chely’s “big news” makes absolutely no difference to me. I’ve never been a fan and wasn’t planning on acquiring her new album either. Therefore Chely’s big “coming out” announcement has in no way impacted my plans not to get her new album! Her “tell all” book doesn’t interest me either. All this foofoorah and follderall rates a big 5 stars on my personal “Who Gives A Sh*t?” meter.

    The loss of all those historically valuable musical instruments is truly tragic. You’d think a place that stores such valuable items would take special steps to make their facility watertight and bulletproof like a bank vault! If they were prepared for a tornado(?), you’d think a torrential downpour and flooding shouldn’t have caught them off guard. Crikey.

    That survey about the decline in music sales reaches some obvious conclusions. They can be summed up as “Its all about the music, you label dummies!”

    Great, so some consider “Welder” a “hipster” album. Any faint flickering flame of interest I might have had in Elizabeth Cook’s new album is now completely extinguished…

  84. Momin
    May 7, 2010 at 2:27 am

    Is there a way I can donate for the flood relief as well? I live in Pakistan.

  85. WAYNOE
    May 7, 2010 at 9:05 am

    Brady,

    You are right concerning your first assertion. Wright has ALWAYS been seen as an opportunist within the industry and her moves are always calculated. She is a one-hit plus a coupe of minor-hits wonder.

    Also Rich stated, and I didn’t see it referenced here, that Wright asked him, and he agreed to, perform many times with her since those remarks. A further showing of her opportunistic nature. As Rich stated, why didn’t she comment to him about those remarks the many times they were together after wards in a friendly environment?

    She did an end-around sabotage and those types of things are expected of her.

  86. Leeann Ward
    May 7, 2010 at 9:51 am

    So, you have an inside track on Chely’s reputation, Wayno? Because it seems like you’re projecting that you do. Until this announcement, I haven’t heard rumors about her propensity for being opportunistic. Suddenly, she’s known for it?

  87. Leeann Ward
    May 7, 2010 at 9:52 am

    And if I were gay, John Rich would surely be the last person I would come out to.

  88. Stormy
    May 7, 2010 at 10:29 am

    And as a straight woman he is the last one I would come on to.

  89. M.C.
    May 7, 2010 at 11:09 am

    Waynoe–I guess that annual fund-raiser Chely does to raise money to help those who struggle with illiteracy, and all the artists who join her effort year after year, is just one more sign of how opportunistic she is and how everyone looks down on her for it? Or the USO trips she’s done without publicity? She once contracted malaria doing charity work in Africa.

    I’m not saying she hasn’t made calculated career moves at times, but who hasn’t? To paint her as seen as more calculating or opportunistic than others isn’t right or fair. I’d say she’s best known as charitable, a determined worker who is well-liked by those she’s worked with, a reliable person who shows up where she says she will, and who goes out of her way to give credit to country music’s past and the figures who inspired her.

  90. WAYNOE
    May 7, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Yes Leeane, just so happens I do.

    O noticed no one commented on the commetn Rich made about the MANY times they were together at her request after that exchange and nothing was said, then she brings this out on a public forum.

    I stand by by comments.

  91. WAYNOE
    May 7, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Sorry for the typos, “I” instead of “O” and “comments” instead of “commetn”.

  92. Leeann Ward
    May 7, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Wayno,
    I didn’t comment on that because it’s irrelevant to me. I don’t automatically disassociate myself from a friend who offends me.

  93. Leeann Ward
    May 7, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Also, you defend John Rich a lot, which makes me think that we’ll just have to agree to disagree on what constitutes good character.

  94. Chris N.
    May 7, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    “I think if you legalize that [same-sex marriage], you’ve got to legalize some other things that are pretty unsavory. You can call me a radical, but how can you tell an aunt that she can’t marry her nephew if they are really in love and sharing the bills? How can you tell them they can’t get married, but something else that’s unnatural can happen?” — John Rich, 2007

  95. Steve M.
    May 7, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    I am shocked, just shocked, to discover John Rich is homophobic.

  96. Thomas
    May 8, 2010 at 6:54 am

    hmm…, that aunty/nephew example also would have been the first thing to come to my mind in such a context.

  97. Paul
    May 8, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Steve M.

    I don’t think John Rich was being homophobic. He was making light of his chances with Chely. It’s just too bad it caused her a lot of pain because it hit home more than he reckoned at the time.

  98. Steve M.
    May 8, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Based on the quote posted by Chris, I would indeed say again that John Rich is homophobic.

  99. WAYNOE
    May 8, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    I defend Rich for two reasons. The first is I agree with many of his viewpoints. The second is that due to current political correctness, many who have similar viewpoints are muzzled while alternate viewpoints are welcomed with open arms.

    By the way, I do not care for Rich personally.

    And lastly, no one addressed my earlier comment about how Wright never talked to John about his comments and welcomed him many times in performances and other gatherings.

    Lastly, just because Rich leans to the right (gasp!!!) has no bearing on his character. That is so elementary.

  100. Leeann Ward
    May 8, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    “Lastly, just because Rich leans to the right (gasp!!!) has no bearing on his character. That is so elementary”

    Very true. It’s the way he acts that has bearing on his character, which is what I was referring to, as you’re attacking Chely Wright’s character. I don’t actually know much about her, I’ll admit, but much has been said about John Rich’s attitude and behavior prior to this particular situation/incident while I’ve never heard Wright referred to as an opportunist until now.

  101. sam (sam)
    May 8, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    I’ve never been much of a Chely fan at all but I do plan on buying her new album (and I rarely buy country music anymore)and book. I hope that Chely’s coming out does in fact help her sell merchandise because I think it is important for more stars (hopefully bigger ones) to come out. And if coming out can help someone sell stuff, then that may encourage more people to come out.

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