From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
If they gave Grammys for best makeover, Chely (pronounced Shelley) Wright would be a shoo-in. "It's so funny to hear people on the radio talking about her being sexy," says her sister Jennifer Archer, a stay-at-home mom in Independence, Kans. "We were such tomboys. We swam in the pond in our shorts and had mud fights. Beauty was never anything Chely strove for." Judging by her vampy red nails and see-through shirt in her latest video, "Jezebel," Wright, 31, is clearly not in Kansas anymore. But the native of that state's tiny Wellsville (pop. approx. 1,600) only recently gave in to vanity. "For a long time I had a chip on my shoulder: 'What about the music? I'm a writer. I'm a producer. I'm a singer,' " says the 5'9" Wright of her early years in Nashville. "But then I started working with all the tools in my tool belt." Since hammering out her new look—designer dresses and heels, lightened brunette locks, judicious use of Laura Mercier, Bobbi Brown and Trish McEvoy cosmetics—her fifth album has critics talking crossover. Has her newfound elegance tamed the tomboy in the still-single Wright? Says her pal, singer Keith Urban: "She can kick your ass whether it's on the golf course or softball field. I wouldn't get near her—unless she was on my team!"