Q&A with Chely Wright

Chely Wright loves New York, but keeps things simple. When we spoke to the country pop star about the city, we learned that she’s more of a pajamas-and-television woman than fancy-dress-and-restaurant. So what shows does she curl up with and what restaurants does she order in from? We talked that, contemporary country, and how she plans to keep performing into her 60s.

GGM: You’re in New York. What are some things you like to do around the holiday season?

CW: I’ve lived here since 2008, and the holidays never lose their wonder. My wife lives here now. She’s a lifelong New Yorker, and she still gets excited. We like to look at the tree, in the windows—

GGM: Saks

CW: Yes, and others. The whole magic in the air, and multicultural holiday experience is really unique. You won’t find it anywhere else in the world. We like to shop, eat, and enjoy the festive atmosphere.

GGM: Are you the type that like to go out to eat or eat in?

CW: Oh gosh, I’m afraid I’m one of these lazy people that like to put on my jammies, put on Law and Order, or The Good Wife, and order in Thai food.

GGM: You’re not alone!

CW: Oh gosh, is that bad of me?

GGM: No, I think all of us do that and just like to talk about restaurants we go to.

CW: Right! Well, we order from great restaurants, if that counts. There are great restaurants that we like to visit when we go out. Nobu is next door, and for good sushi, you gotta go there. We like Maz Mezcal, on 86th street for Mexican. I could rattle off restaurants all day, couldn’t I?

GGM: What are some of your inspirations as an artist?

CW: I grew up in the Midwest. I grew up on artists like Buck Owens, Loretta Lynne, Connie Smith, Conway Twitty. When I moved to Nashville in 1989, I had my first exposure to commercial country music, pop music, rock and roll, and bluegrass music. My records then became a bit more contemporary. I’ve really been listening to a lot of Roseanne Crash and Patty Griffin, and of course Rodney Croft produced my last record. MY dream is to be making records when I’m 60 years old, and there’s a contemplative way to do that. I can’t be trying to recreate "Single White Female" hit records I had in the 90s. I need to fill up my brain with new and different kinds of music, and right now I’m really feeling singer-songwriters.

GGM: What about some more contemporary country stars you draw inspiration from?

CW: I’m sad to say we don’t have a country station in New York City. We used to have a great one, WYNY, one of the best in the nation. Unfortunately I haven’t listened to a lot of contemporary country music these days, but I do know a great hit maker is Taylor Swift. People are really critical of a person when they get to the very top of their game. We like to cheer people on and then when they start winning awards, it seems to be very popular to criticize, but I have to say I’m a huge fan of Taylor’s. She’s very melodic and great with her lyrics. I’m a forty-one year old woman who loves listening to Taylor Swift music and really dissecting it. It’s not simply done. She puts a lot of thought into the records she makes. I’m a LeAnn Rimes fan, and Lee Ann Womack. It doesn’t get any better than Trisha Yearwod, I have to say.

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