Posts Tagged ‘Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer’

Random Friday Thoughts — May 23, 2014

It’s Memorial Day weekend and that’s the “unofficial” kick-off to the summer season.

This is a three-day weekend for some of you, but, if you’re like me, Monday is a “typical” work day.

Graves_at_Arlington_on_Memorial_Day

Whichever it is, we need to remember the great men and women, regardless of sexuality or race, that made the ultimate sacrifice of giving their life serving in the United States armed services.   We should be doing this every day, but especially Monday!

Thank you for checking out my random thoughts.  As always, let me know what you agree or disagree with and why.

(Warning:  I have a story about “Hannibal” and if you’re a queasy person or have a phobia of gore, skip past that story.)

ONE FORMER WEATHERMAN HAS LOST IT!

Back in late April, I blogged about “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak and his tweet about “coming out” as a heterosexual.

PatSajak

In my “Random Friday Thoughts — April 25, 2014”, I wrote, “At first glance, I thought it was interesting.  Then, I thought about it a little more and starting thinking that either he had had a few drinks or that he was being funny.”

However, now I think he’s lost it.

As some of you may know, Sajak was a fill-in weather man in Nashville, Tennessee, in the mid-1970s and then was the main weatherman for the NBC affiliate in Los Angeles before “Wheel of Fortune”.  He was basically a weather “personality” and as far as I know, he is not a “meteorologist”, with formal training.

Pat Sajak Nashville Weather

I say that because of this shocking tweet he sent out earlier this week.

Pat Sajak Global Warming

What the f, oops, hell is he talking about?  “Alarmists” and “unpatriotic racists”?  I’ve been called many things in my personal and professional life, but never those terms.

Recently, in two different public speaking engagements on weather, I was asked if I believe in “global warming”.  At both events, I said, “yes” and I gave the analogy that the atmosphere is just like the human body.  You can’t abuse it for decades and not expect it to fail on you.

I also added that while I believe that “global warming” is real, we still don’t know precisely how it will affect future generations.  Any theories about what could happen are basically educated forecasts.

But, Sajak is just way off base here and needs to entertain puzzle solvers!

QUINCY JONES DOESN’T MINCE WORDS

Multi-Grammy Award-winning producer Quincy Jones doesn’t beat around the bush when he speaks of Michael Jackson’s new album , “Xscape”, that debuted this week at #2 on the Billboard album chart in the U.S. and at #1 in the U.K.

Michael Jackson Xscape

In a CBC Radio interview, the legendary producer says he’s not a fan of the “new” music.  He also added this, “They’re trying to make money. And I understand it. Everybody’s after money, the estate, the lawyers. It’s about money.”

michael-jackson-quincy-jones

Jones produced or co-produced three of Michael’s biggest albums, 1979’s “Off The Wall” (worldwide sales of 20+ million), 1982’s “Thriller” (worldwide sales of 110+ million), and 1987’s “Bad” (worldwide sales of 45+ million).

“THE KING OF POP” IS REWRITING MUSIC HISTORY

With the first single from the album, “Love Never Felt So Good”, a “duet” with Justin Timberlake, jumping from #22 to #9 this week on the Billboard Hot 100, Michael sets two new records on that 55-year-old chart.

Billboard Hot 100

He becomes the first artists to have Top Ten hits in each of five decades.  He first reached the Top Ten in 1971 when “Got To Be There” reached #4.  He’s now had top ten hits in the ’70s (four), ’80s (seventeen), ’90s (six), ’00s (one), and ’10s (one).  By the way, those Top Ten hit numbers (in parenthesis) do not include hits with the Jackson 5 or The Jacksons.

If you do the math, that’s 29 Top Ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100.  That places him in third place with most Top Ten hits behind Madonna in first place with 38 and the Beatles in second with 34.  Behind Michael are Stevie Wonder in fourth place with 28 and Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, and Elton John are tied for fifth place with 27 Top Ten Hot 100 hits each.

http://www.michael-jackson-photos.com/

One other record that Michael extends with “Love Never Felt So Good” making the Top Ten is the longest span of Top Ten hits.

Since his first appearance in the Top Ten when “Got To Be There” moved from #13 to #9 on November 20, 1971 to this week, that time span is now 42 years, five months and one week.

This puts him ahead of Santana (33 years and eight months) and Cher (33 years and one month).

Cher Cyndi Lauper

Since I’ll being seeing Cher in two weeks in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, why not feature that historic, career song, “Believe”?  It spent four weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1999, making her the oldest woman to ever top that chart.  She was 52 at the time.  So young!

“HANNIBAL” SEASON FINALE!

As I gleefully blogged last week, NBC’s ratings-challenged, “Hannibal”, was renewed for a third season.

The second season finale is tonight and I can’t wait to see it.

Hannibal S2

“Entertainment Weekly” writes of the finale, “TV’s most deliciously twisted romance — the freaky foodie’s psychic bromance with profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) — reaches a shocking consummation.  Be prepared to say, What just happened?! a lot.  Bring a bib.  Fannibals:  The eating is tasty, and bloody messy to boot.”

“EW” gives the finale a grade of “A-“.

We know from the first episode of this season that there is a showdown between Hannibal and FBI agent Jack Crawford.  We were teased with a two-minute fight, with blood and injuries, before the episode flashed back twelve weeks to show us how we got to that point.

Hannibal Jack Showdown

If you’re familiar with the Thomas Harris books or the “Hannibal” movie, you know the story of Mason Verger, his man-eating pigs, and his drug-fueled self-mutilation.

I commend NBC and its Standards & Practices (the department responsible for the moral, ethical, and legal implications of the program that network airs) for totally going all out with Mason’s facial destruction and how calm Will and Hannibal were while the act was taking place!

Mason Face Off

If that scene is any indication, the finale is going to rock and creep out fans.

While there are some characters that I want to be Hannibal’s next meal, I don’t want Will or Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) to die.

hannibal gillian

NBC, I have two suggestions to make this incredibly written, acted, and produced show a ratings success.

Move it to Sunday night and open up your checkbook and pay whatever it takes to bring Jodie Foster on as Clarice Starling, an agent that has worked her way up the ranks and is now the Agent-in-Charge of the Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI!

Jodie Elysium

“HANNIBAL” FUNNY

Hannibal Funny

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

MilkCloud Joke  Jesus Godzilla

BOTH ARE BOX OFFICE HITS

So, some people see Jesus, God, and Godzilla in cloud formations.  And, they’re also packing into movie theaters to see them, too!

Last weekend, “Godzilla (2014)” ripped up $100.9 million in box office receipts in the U.S. in just the first four days.  When you add in the foreign box office, the legendary monster has scared up a $204.3 in ticket sales.

godzilla_2014_poster

Meanwhile, “Heaven is For Real” is now up to $85.5 million at the box office and it’s been in the American Top Ten for its five weeks of release.

Heaven Is For Real

Other “God” related movies that are seeing some heavenly returns are “God’s Not Dead” ($59 million), “Son Of God” ($67.8 million), and “Noah” ($343.3 million).

WHY I KNOW HEAVEN IS FOR REAL

While I might want to see “God’s Not Dead”, I have no desire to see “Heaven Is For Real”.

However, I do feel that heaven is real.  I’ve prayed to God every night since I was kid and while none of us have proof that he exists, most of us believe in heaven and hell.

The reason I know heaven is for real is because my mother, Dessie, my grandparents, John and Helen Peoples, and Miss ABBA are waiting for me there.

ABBA July 2000

Yes, that’s a baby picture of Miss ABBA from early July 2000 when we brought her home from a Tuscarawas County, Ohio, llama farm, when she was about six weeks old.

That little bundle of golden retreiver was born fourteen years ago this week on May 22nd.

ABBA11thBIRTHDAY

And, this is the Golden Honey Locust tree we planted two years ago in memory of Miss ABBA.  It’s getting bigger and sure is beautiful this spring.

ABBA Tree 2014

MARK HARMON, WHAT HAPPENED?

NCIS star Mark Harmon turns 63-year-old this fall and we’re all getting older.  Trust me, I know first hand.

However, I just saw video of him at a CBS party to promote the new fall line-up and I was baffled by his hair style (or lack thereof)!

CBS Party Mark Harmon

It has nothing to do with age because he’s still a good-looking man, but seriously check a mirror first before you go in front of a camera.

Yes, I’ve been a fan of his since the early days (even when he played Ted Bundy for the television movie, “The Deliberate Stranger” in 1986 that earned him a Golden Globes nomination).

Here are a couple of flashback pictures!

mark-harmon1981 Eddie Awards

I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY

While the book came out in 2010, I just finished reading Chely Wright’s “Like Me:  Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer”.

Chely Wright Like Me

It was an incredible read with Chely opening up about her love of God, living a lie of keeping her sexuality a secret to become a country music star, and her coming out.

From 1997-2005, Chely charted nine Top 40 country hits including her 1999 chart topper, “Single White Female”.

CMT Flameworthy Video Music Awards

If you didn’t get a chance to read my blog about Chely and her struggles with coming out that almost cost her her life, here’s the link:

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/chely-wright-knows-that-god-loves-her/

THAT’S IT

Thank you for checking out my random thoughts this week.

Whatever you do this weekend, enjoy it and be safe.

We’re going to grill turkey burgers tonight, plant tomatoes and peppers in the garden and put up the swimming pool Saturday, and check out “Godzilla”.

Anthony

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Chely Wright Knows That God Loves Her

“Dear God, please don’t let me be gay.  I promise to be a good person.  I promise… I promise… I promise… I promise… Please take it away.  In your name I pray.  Amen. ”

Variations of that prayer were a daily part of country singer Chely Wright’s life from the time she was a third grader until she privately accepted that she was gay.

Fast forward to January 26, 2006 — a cold winter’s morning when Chely stood defeated in her Nashville home with a loaded 9 millimeter gun in her mouth.  After all of the years of living in denial and fighting to be happy, but not out, she was ready to end it all.

However, the tears started falling and Chely just couldn’t pull the trigger.  She put the gun on the mantle and went back upstairs and stayed in bed for a couple of more days.

chely wright

The former Academy of Country Music’s Top New Female Vocalist and one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” couldn’t handle the stress of being gay and not being able to be open and honest about it.

That month of depression in January 2006 and the suicide attempt was a turning point for Chely.

Today, she’s happily married to LGBT rights advocate Lauren Blitzer (they met and married in 2011) and she’s the mother of twin boys, George Samuel and Everett Joseph, who turn one-year-old last weekend.

chely-wright-weddingChely's Twins Turn One

Although the book came out in 2010, I just got around to reading her autobiography, “Like Me”, which not only talked about her love of God, her family, country music and singing, but also her struggles with being a lesbian and having to hide her personal life to be a successful country music star.

Chely Wright Like Me

Richelle Rene Wright was born in the fall of 1970 in Kansas City, Missouri, and raised in a small Kansas town of 1,600 people.  She was the youngest of three children.

Even as a child, Chely knew that she was different.  She even had feelings for a teacher when she was just a little girl.

While Chely dated boys growing up in Kansas, she knew that it wasn’t going to change the feelings she felt toward women.  She moved to Nashville as a teenager to work at Opryland, where she had her first lesbian affair.

After landing a recording contract, Chely’s first album, “Woman in the Moon” and her first singles arrived at country radio in 1994 and 1995.

Chely Wright - Woman In The Moon

While the three singles got some radio airplay, none of them cracked the Top 40 on the Billboard Country chart.  However, at the gay country bar, Charlie’s, in Chicago, that I worked at during that time, “Sea of Cowboy Hats”, was a hit with the two-steppers.

Chely released a second album in 1996, but it, too, failed to catch on at country radio.  Meanwhile, she continued to tour extensively across the U.S. and visit and perform for troops around the world.

She always lived a double life.  When she wasn’t the “country singer” touring and promoting her songs, she was in an on-again and off-again relationship for about ten years with a music industry woman named Julia.

In 1997, she scored her first hit on the Billboard Country chart.  “Shut Up and Drive” reached #14.  It was followed by two more modest hits that reached #39 and #36, respectively.

While working to make it big as a country singer, she kept a low profile with Julia.  Julia even got married to a man, but that marriage ended in divorce and she and Chely got back together.  During this time, Chely also dated men, including her dear friend, Vince Gill.

Vince Gill

Even as she lived in the closet with country music fans, Chely hit the big time in 1999 when her album, “Single White Female”, went gold (selling more than 500,000 copies) and the title track topped the country charts in September.

In the book, Chely held nothing back about how hard it was to love God so much, yet struggle with being gay.  And, being in a genre of music that, for the most part, lacked compassion for gay people, she felt she was living a lie with her fans.

In late 2000, she met and started dating rising star, Brad Paisley.

Brad Chely

She had deep feelings for Paisley and he fell in love with her.  However, because she was a lesbian, her love for him wasn’t the same and he just couldn’t handle her getting close and pushing away.

brad-paisley-chely-wright

Throughout “Like Me” and since its publication, Chely regrets the way that relationship ended because she did care for Brad.

While Chely scored five more hits after the chart topper, “Single White Female”, through 2005, “It Was” was the biggest.  It made it up to #11 in 2000.

Chely knew that people on Music Row and in Nashville gossiped about her personal life and she had heard rumors that some thought she was gay.  Those dated back to 1994, just as she was starting her career.

However, Chely confirmed this with John Rich, a former member of the band, Lonestar, and one-half of the duo, Big & Rich.  The two had worked together back in 1990 at Opryland.

One night, in March 2005, the two of them were hanging out when Rich confronted her.

John Rich Chely Wright

Chely writes that Rich told her that people were talking about her and wondered if she was gay and that it wasn’t cool if she had “chosen to live that lifestyle” and that fans and the industry wouldn’t allow it.  He also told her, “People don’t approve of that kind of deviant behavior.  It’s a sin.”

She goes on to talk about how uneasy she started feeling because, at that point, he hadn’t asked her about her sexuality.  Rich was just telling her what he thought and what he felt that country music fans would think.  Finally, he asked, “You’re not gay, are you?”

Taking a deep breath, Chely exclaimed, “No, John, I’m not gay” to which Rich replied, “Good”.

JohnRich2

John Rich would go on the defensive again in late 2007 when he commented on a radio talk show that marriage equality would lead to incestuous marriages.

Days later, he offered this lame apology that was nothing more than damage control, “However, I also believe that intolerance, bigotry and hatred are wrong. People should be judged based on their merits, not on their sexual orientation. We are all children of God and should be valued and respected.”

Back in 2007, I interviewed Lonestar in Lubbock, Texas.  Luckily, for me, it was lead singer Richie McDonald and keyboardist/vocalist Dean Sams.  Rich was fired from Lonestar the following year and I’m so happy that I never met that homophobe!

Chely Wright Like Me

When Chely’s book came out in 2010, she also released her seventh studio album, “Lifted Off The Ground”, which focused around her personal struggles.  It reached #32 on Billboard Country album chart.

In June 2011, Chely released a documentary about the three years leading up to her coming out called “Wish Me Away”.

It won “Best Documentary” at the Los Angeles Film Festival and the “Documentary Channel Audience Award” for “Best Documentary” at the Nashville Film Festival.

Chely has also founded two organizations:  Reading, Writing and Rhythm (RW&R), which helps supply musical instruments and equipment to promote music in America’s schools, and about ten years later, in 2010, she started “The Like Me Organization”, which provides assistance, resources, and education to LGBT individuals and their family and friends.  It also works to prevent LGBT bullying and teen suicide.

Chely NOH8

So, while country radio and the Grand Ole Opry are missing out on a first-class talent, it’s great that real fans and LGBT people still have Chely around to offer support and give people courage to be themselves and not be afraid.

Chely, thank you for sharing your story and touching the lives of those that may be afraid to make that step to “come out”.

“Like Me:  Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer” is a must read!

CMT Flameworthy Video Music Awards

Chely, best wishes to you, Lauren, and the boys.

Anthony

While this blog was ready to be posted last week, I held off on it once Chely tweeted this about the loss of her mother, Cheri.

Chely -- Loss of Mother