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Catching up with Chely Wright

Out country singer returns to region for concert with Amy Ray



Chely Wright, gay news, Washington Blade

Chely Wright says she was ecstatic to hear her new album compared to classics by Carole King and Roseanne Cash. (Photo courtesy Wright)

Chely Wright and Amy Ray
Monday, Nov. 28
7:30 p.m.
The Birchmere
3701 Mount Vernon Ave.
Alexandria, Va.

It’s been six years since Chely Wright, a country singer known for hits like “Shut Up and Drive” and “Single White Female,” came out as a lesbian.

Her last album was 2010’s “Lifted Off the Ground,” which coincided with her coming out. Since then she’s gotten married, gave birth to twin boys and has spoken out for LGBT rights.

Now that her life has settled, Wright is back to the business of releasing music and touring. Her eighth album “I Am the Rain” was released in September and she plays the Birchmere on Monday, Nov. 28 in a co-headlining show with Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls.

The always-loquacious Wright darts around to many topics during a Tuesday afternoon phone chat.

On touring with Ray:  “Amy and Emily knew before I came out that I was coming out and they were incredibly supportive. … I was so pleased and honored that they recorded a song I had written called ‘It Really Is a Wonderful Life’ and asked me to come on stage at a couple of their shows with them. Any time an artist can get in front of an Indigo Girls audience, which is a highly informed, highly evolved, very loyal fan base, I said, ‘You betcha.’”

On losing fans by coming out: “You know, it’s hard to tell. Of course I lost some fans, but I also gained some, right? There have been a couple hundred new ones supporting me and coming to my shows that may not have known me before. It’s kind of a wash.”

On being a fan-friendly artist:  “I think fans enjoy it, but I think I enjoy it nearly as much as they have. It’s just what makes country music special and it’s just part of who I am. Just like being an Americana artist and less commercial, I guess that’s something I’m always going to do.”

On possibly singing with Ray: “(The tour) didn’t sneak up on us, but we didn’t really have the time to get something together to come up with what would make sense to collaborate on, so hopefully as the tour goes on we can work something out. I love to sing harmony so hopefully she’ll let me sing harmony with her on a couple songs.”

On her set: “I’ve just been focusing on the new music and then a couple of the hits, because I really wanted to, selfishly, play this new music and bounce it out there. As a live performer, there’s nothing more gratifying than playing new music and seeing the response.”

On coming out strategically: “I wanted to come out in a smart, productive way. I wanted to use my voice in a way that kinda moved the needle. I know a lot of people have been touched or comforted by my book, my movie or my coming out or they’ve been … well, enlightened by it. Whether they were a person who thought they never knew and loved a gay person and then their favorite country artist comes out, well if that’s what got them to read my book or watch “Wish Me Away,” well that’s a mission accomplished.”

On her new album: “When you listen to it as a body of work with my older records, it doesn’t seem so different like, ‘Oh my God, that doesn’t even sound like her.’ I’ve said this before, but if ‘Lifted Off The Ground’ was steps away from ‘The Metropolitan Hotel,’ then ‘I Am The Rain’ is a marathon away from ‘Lifted Off The Ground.’”

On working with producer Joe Henry: “When one is lucky is enough to have Joe Henry pirate the ship, an artist — a smart artist — will get out of the way and let Joe Henry do what he was hired to do. One of the multitude of skills Joe brings to the table is his sensibility about which songs should be recorded. Obviously, it’s my record, but his vision for it was critically important or I would’ve just produced it myself. It’s like a ghost artist — some books have a ghost writer, but he’s like a ghost collaborator, but we call him producer. I’ve often said, he’s the rising tide that lifts all ships so he just makes you better and more vulnerable and more emotional and more triumphant. That’s the thing that Joe does that nobody else that I know of does.”

On duetting with Emmylou Harris: “That song, just to hear Emmylou Harris singing notes and words that I authored and composed just kind of blows me away and she did it so beautifully. She said when she was recording that, ‘I just want to be where Chely is emotionally,’ and boy, did she.”

On belonging: “I had high hopes that the gay community would have a place for me and that the straight community would have a place for me and the country music would have a place for me. I don’t know if the country music industry has acknowledged that they have a place for me, but they do have a place for me because I claimed it. I think what I was feeling that day when I was begging for a couple of different groups to validate me me is that looking at it now I realize the power I had that I didn’t know I had. I don’t need a group to grant me entrance. I, by the nature of who I am, I have my entry.”


Music & Concerts

New dance single pays tribute to Town Danceboutique

Local musicians pen ‘Town’ in honor of shuttered club



Bryce Bowyn (Photo by Clarissa Villondo)

The closing of the LGBTQ nightclub Town Danceboutique in the summer of 2017 was heartbreaking to local musician Bryce Bowyn. He and his Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter friend Lexie Martin decided to honor its legacy in their new single, “Town.”

For Bowyn, who moved to the District about a decade ago to attend school at American University, the memories he has from Town Danceboutique are endless. And when it closed, it was a massive loss to Bowyn and many others. 

“It was such a cool space,” Bowyn said. “It was just disappointing to see a place that brought so many people together become part of the landscape again.” The building Town Danceboutique used to be housed in is now home to upscale apartments and a CVS. 

Town Danceboutique was a formative place for Bowyn and Martin, and it was Bowyn’s first experience in an open and accepting LGBTQ environment. His favorite memories at the club were always on Halloween, he said. Patrons, including Bowyn, would go all out with their costumes to look their very best. 

Bowyn and Martin met while they were both in the musical theater program at American University. Despite their years-long friendship, “Town” is the first song they have written together. They sat down over FaceTime and got to work. It was Martin’s idea to pay homage to Town Danceboutique, and the song follows the story of pre-gaming, going out, and hitting the dance floor. 

But the single also serves as a hype song for going out in any city, at any place. 

“It was important to me for the song to remain relatable and accessible,” Bowyn said. “So the whole foundation of the chorus, ‘Let’s go to town,’ can either mean Town Danceboutique, or painting the town red and having the night of your life.”

Bowyn started writing and producing his own music in 2018. He released an EP titled “A Rosy Retrospect” in 2022, and most recently released a single “A Bridge Burned Down” in June. His music is inspired by late 2000s pop and ‘80s synthpop, influenced by stars like Madonna and Charli XCX. Lexie Martin released her self-titled EP in 2019 and most recently came out with her single “SUPERPOWER” in 2021. 

Bowyn has been a lifelong pop music enthusiast. He distinctly remembers watching Britney Spears perform “Oops!…I Did It Again” at the MTV Video Music Awards when he was a kid and thinking “That was what I wanted and what I was set to do in life.”

“My heart was always with pop music,” Bowyn said. 

“Town” is available now for streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, and Soundcloud.

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Music & Concerts

From Monáe to Madonna, fall will rock in D.C.

Local venues hosting array of queer artists in coming months



Madonna’s delayed tour is slated to hit D.C. Dec. 18 and 19. (Screen capture via YouTube)

The D.C. area has many LGBTQ musical acts to look forward to this fall. Starting with pansexual and nonbinary actor and R&B singer Janelle Monáe, performing at the Anthem on Sept. 24-25 with ticket prices ranging from $135 to $301 on StubHub.

Janelle Monáe comes to the Anthem later this month. (Screen capture via YouTube)

Singer Hozier’s “Unreal Unearth Tour” is coming to the Anthem on Sept. 26-27. Tickets are available on StubHub starting at $324.

On Sept. 28 the CFG Bank Arena in Baltimore will see lesbian pop artist SZA’s “SOS Tour” with tickets starting at $165 on Ticketmaster. 

Queer indie pop singer Ashnikko is coming to the Anthem on Sept. 29 to perform their “Weedkiller Tour.” Tickets available on StubHub range from $49 to $279.

Coming to Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md., is the All Things Go Festival. Performing are lesbian singers Tegan and Sara, alt-pop singer Lana Del Rey, pop singer Carly Rae Jepson, and more. The festival will take place Sept. 30-Oct. 1 with two day passes starting at $397 on SeatGeek.  

Rock band Queen will perform “The Rhapsody Tour” at the CFG Bank Arena along with Adam Lambert on Oct. 4-5. Tickets are starting at $181 on Ticketmaster. 

Pop star and trans woman Kim Petras’ “Feed the Beast World Tour” will reach the Anthem on Oct 12. Tickets range from $72 to $817 on StubHub. 

Kim Petras brings the ‘Feed the Beast World Tour’ to the Anthem in October. (Photo by Thom Kerr)

Queer pop singer Kesha is coming to the Anthem on Oct. 29 to support her new album, “Gag Order.” Tickets go from $86 to $261 on Event Ticket Center. 

Queer pop rapper Shygirl is co-headlining with bisexual singer Tinashe for the “Nymph” tour at the Anthem on Nov. 5. Tickets range from $45 to $145 on Ticketmaster.

Indie band Men I Trust is performing at Echostage on Nov. 15. Tickets are available on Ticketmaster for $30. 

Nonbinary rapper Lil Uzi Vert’s “PINK TAPE TOUR” will be at the Anthem on Nov. 21. Tickets start at $90 on StubHub. 

Doja Cat’s “The Scarlett Tour” will reach Capital One Arena on Nov. 27. Tickets start at $100 on Ticketmaster. 

Madonna will bring her highly anticipated and delayed “The Celebration Tour” to the Capital One Arena Dec. 18 and 19. Tickets are available on Ticketmaster starting at $110.

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Music & Concerts

Tom Goss to perform at Rehoboth Beach Bear Weekend

Out singer entertains at the Sands Hotel



Tom Goss (Photo by Dusti Cunningham)

Out singer Tom Goss will perform at the Rehoboth Beach Bear Weekend on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 7 and 9 p.m. at the Sands Hotel. 

He will sing his memorable songs like “Son of a Preacher Man” and “Bears,” as well as tracks from his new album, “Remember What It Feels Like,” where he sings about being a 42-year-old gay man still reeling from his husband’s infidelity who was recently conned by a lover with a secret life now serving time in prison. 

Tickets to Rehoboth Beach Bear Weekend start at $20 and can be purchased on Eventbrite

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