Chely Wright’s Wish Me Away documentary, which recently received Nashville Film Festival’s Audience Award, is available in select theaters and for rent and pre-sale on iTunes before its July 31 official release.
Filmmakers Bobbie Birleffi and Beverly Kopf use a mixture of the singer’s public and private moments surrounding her 2010 Pantheon book release, Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer, which discussed her homosexuality.
Nashville industry executives Tony Brown, Clarence Spalding, Rodney Crowell, Bill Cody and Don Cusic offer interview commentary while Fletcher Foster serves as Co-Executive Producer of the film.
Cusic offers, “Country fans are loyal to an artist until they feel betrayed.” The documentary tells the story of a Country artist revealing a secret to a traditionally conservative market, anticipating abandonment from those fans.
“We have paid a lot of attention to how we present Nashville, not as a monolith of homophobia, but as a very successful business that markets to a predominantly conservative audience, much like the rest of the country,” says Birleffi.
Wright reveals the ways she protected her secret and used her celebrity to keep the world at an arm’s length. As a child, she prayed away feelings of homosexuality and negotiated with God to replace her desire for love with a successful career.
When she secured a record deal from Polygram and her first No. 1, “Single White Female,” Wright thought God had answered her prayers. She recalls developing evasive skills to distract speculation from her love life and focused energy on public service, for which she started her charity Reading, Writing and Rhythm.
It was after her success had snowballed around her secret when Wright felt cornered and contemplated suicide.
“Young people in every corner of America are being told by their churches—and their parents are echoing what the churches are telling them—that they’re damaged goods, and they’re not,” Wright remarks in the documentary.
The title, Wish Me Away, comes from one of the song on Wright’s 2010 album release Lifted Off The Ground.
Last Friday, the documentary opened in Los Angeles and Sebastopol, CA; Columbus, OH; and Denver, CO; joining Berklee, CA; and NYC’s Quad Cinema.
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