Ask people in Wellsville, Kansas, what they think of country music and even thought their opinions may vary, they’ll always smile with pride when they talk about Chely Wright. The country music star, who has topped the charts and won the hearts of millions of fans, grew up in this town of 1,600 in the northeast corner of Franklin County.
During her travels on the road to fame, Wright has never forgotten her hometown. She could have told people that she is from the Kansas City “area” but no, she stands tall and says with pride that she is from “Wellsville, Kansas.” Wright has been known to tell her fans about her memories of Wellsville, in particular her many trips to the J and D Pharmacy for a “mud,” a thick ice cream treat she adores.
“She’s definitely a byproduct of Wellsville. We knew when she was little bitty she was going to be a star,” said Chely’s brother, Chris Wright.
In August 2002, the people of Wellsville honored their hometown girl by renaming their Main Street “Chely Wright Way.” During the ceremony to rename the street, Chely’s father, Stan Wright, said, “I’m proud and humbled. It just gives me that much more pride that she’s my daughter.”
Wright was raised in a musical family and grew up listening to Loretta Lynn, Connie Smith, Buck Owens and Wanda Jackson. She made her mark in 1995 when she was awarded the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Female Vocalist Award. She fulfilled her destiny with her album “Single White Female.” Her song, “Shut Up and Drive,” became her first top-10 hit in 1997. In 2001, her hit, “Never Love You Enough,” raced up the charts. Recently Wright was included on People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People list.