Charles Kelley On Sobriety, Inspiring Others, And His New Outlook on Life

Charles Kelley is an entirely different man than he was a little more than a year ago. The Lady A singer celebrated one year of sobriety in September, becoming a perhaps unintentional spokesperson for embracing a healthier side of life, especially within country music.

“It wasn’t my goal to go public, but we had a tour planned, and the last thing I wanted was anyone to think that there were any issues with the band, and that we were breaking up,” Kelley told Everything Nash while at the BMI Awards, speaking of Lady A’s just-wrapped Request Line Tour, which was postponed while Kelley entered rehab.

“Part of this whole journey for me is being more honest with myself,” he added. “And I said, ‘Let’s just be honest.’ It was amazing the support I got because of it. And honestly, unbeknownst to me, it created a cool platform for me to encourage some of the other artists that I know.”


Kelley is grateful, now, that he went public with his sobriety, but it’s a decision he may not have made without role models like Tim McGraw and Keith Urban, who also proudly embrace sobriety.

“I think you feel a lot of pressure as an artist to be as wild and crazy because that’s what all our heroes have done … They eventually realized it,” the “As Far As You Could” singer acknowledged, “and some people realize it too late.”

Kelley has also been open about his sobriety with his seven-year-old son, Ward, who sees his father regularly attend AA meetings.


“We just talk about, Daddy goes and has meanings about his feelings, and he loves that,” Kelley said. “He’s like, ‘I wanna go to one of your meetings about feelings.’ I gotta give my wife a lot of credit. She’s really created an environment, or a house where talking about your emotions is just something we do all the time. And to learn how to be vulnerable, it’s fun to watch his eyes, the innocence, and the tenderness that comes through.

“Hopefully,” he added, “it’ll be something that when he’s old enough, that he’ll be able to look at it and go, ‘Alright, this is a problem for my dad. I might have to keep an eye out on this.'”

There are moments, still, when Kelley misses having a drink, especially after a show or when he is lounging at home. But for the Georgia native, the pros of not drinking will always outweigh the cons.

“I read a lot more,” Kelley said. “I have more energy to spend with my family and talking with my wife, and not sitting in front of the TV and polishing off a bottle of wine. So some of those things naturally for me has opened up my eyes. … In terms of the creative process, honestly, it’s just being more vulnerable, more open and honest in my songwriting.”

Read ’14 Country Music Singers Who Are Sober’ here.