Wright has a new single out, "Never Love You Enough," and on June 21 she’ll debut a new video, shot in a Hawaiian rain forest. Her next album, also titled Never Love You Enough, reaches stores Sept. 11. So, Fan Fair week will be crucial as she tries to build momentum for the next chapter in her career.
Wright’s week gets underway in earnest at 8 p.m. Tuesday at The Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville, where she hosts a sold-out concert and celebrity auction to benefit Reading, Writing & Rhythm/The Chely Wright Foundation. Created by Wright, the charity raises money for public school music departments in need of instruments and equipment.
Bidders in a celebrity auction can buy dinner with Wright, a guided tour of the new Country Music Hall of Fame (also with Wright), a blouse worn by Loretta Lynn in her most recent video or Paisley’s drummer’s drum kit.
Paisley and Wright are great friends who’ve co-written songs and toured together. They co-produced two tracks for Wright’s upcoming set. Some have speculated that the two may be linked romantically, but neither will ‘fess up. "We have a similar foundation, as far as music, and we have a good thing co-writing together," Wright says guardedly. "He’s one of my very best friends, and I’m glad for his success."
Also producing on the new Wright album are Buddy Cannon and Tony Brown (seven tracks), Paul Worley (one on his own and one with Wright) and Dann Huff, who produced the new single, the last track recorded.
"With the success of Single White Female [her gold-selling previous album], I knew it needed to be not just good, but pretty darn good," Wright says. "I really believe we raised the bar as far as song quality, focus and production, and I think I’m singing better then ever."
To support the single and set up the album, Wright will undertake a tour of 30 cities, the Coca-Cola Hometown Hero Tour, beginning June 20 in Paris, Tenn. A winner in each city gets to invite hometown guests to the concert in that city.
Today (June 11), Wright is co-writing with John Hampson and Brian Desveaux of Nine Days. The New York-based group scored a major pop hit last summer, "Absolutely (Story of a Girl)." Brought together by their managers, the writers will be working on a song for a Disney feature film, Max Keeble’s Big Move, to be released in the fall. Wright appears in the movie as a homeroom teacher. The role is her professional acting debut. "I loved it, it was really fun," she says.
Her Fan Fair booth will have a rain forest theme, echoing the look of her new video, and Wright will sign autographs Friday, Saturday and Sunday. She’ll host a Gilda’s Club auction Wednesday night at the Country Music Hall of Fame with Brad Paisley, then she’ll walk across the street to present an award at the TNN & CMT Country Weekly Music Awards. Thursday, she’ll play in the City of Hope charity softball game. Wright is philosophical about her full schedule.
"The fans get just as tired as the artists do," she reasons. "They save up their money all year to drive from South Dakota or somewhere and they stay in pretty modest hotels just so they can come out and stand in line five hours to get your autograph. Anyone [in the industry] who complains about Fan Fair, by and large, should be slapped in the face."