WATCH: Charles Kelley And Wife Cassie Sit Down For Brave New Interview Detailing His Journey To Sobriety

The Lady A bandmate revealed he went to rehab after a rock-bottom moment.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

May 10, 2023


3:57 pm

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Charles Kelley and Cassie Kelley – CBS Mornings

In August of 2022, Charles Kelley of the country music trio, Lady A, stepped back from his life on the road to focus on himself and his family as he embarked on his new sober lifestyle. The singer has been very open with his fans throughout his journey thus far, but in a new interview with CBS Mornings, he got candid about just how much his alcohol consumption was negatively affecting his life before getting the help he needed.

“I remember joking with everyone, with buddies, I was like, ‘yeah, I’m definitely a functioning alcoholic.’ And I said, ‘I know I’m going to have to stop at some point, but that’s not today.’ And that was always kind of my little joke. It was like, that tells you, I kind of knew,” Kelley explained to CBS Mornings co-host, Gayle King.

Charles Kelley; Photo Courtesy CBS Mornings
Charles Kelley; Photo Courtesy CBS Mornings

According to Kelley, his bandmates, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood, also began to take notice, and it was about five years ago when they first sat him down to express their concerns. 

“It’s the first time that they had really, I mean, we would have shows where like, ‘Hey man, you might have had a little too much to drink that night.’ Or I was like, ‘okay, well, has it affected how hard I work? Has it affected the shows?’

Their response was not about the state of his career, but rather his overall health outside of work.

“I think it was more just, ‘I’m worried about you,’” he told the outlet. “And to me, I think if I remember correctly, it was more about how I would speak to them when I was drinking. I’d be very dismissive very quick. There was never any physical stuff, but very emotional and verbal just, I think, outbursts. I could recognize that that was alcohol-induced for sure.”

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In addition to his road family, Kelley is a husband to his wife, Cassie, and a father to the couple’s 7-year-old son, Ward. He recalled the eye-opening moment that caused him to realize that even his young child was starting to notice that something wasn’t right.  

“Cassie would tell me some stories about how little things that Ward would say that I didn’t even know he was noticing, you know, ‘Daddy’s talking a little funny,’ or you know, ‘you and Daddy, y’all argue a lot.’”

“That crushed me,” he added. “So little things like that, just, he’s the most important thing in my life. Hands down.”

Once he got serious about making this major life change, Kelley checked in at a rehab facility for a month-long stay. Although he admits he was “scared to death” to make this leap, it has helped him make tremendous strides in his recovery. 

Charles Kelley and Cassie Kelley; Photo Courtesy CBS Mornings
Charles Kelley and Cassie Kelley; Photo Courtesy CBS Mornings

His new lifestyle now includes attending group meetings with others who are also battling alcoholism, and blowing into a device every morning and night to ensure he has not been drinking. Kelley explained that this has allowed him to rebuild the trust between himself, his wife, and his band. 

Cassie then took a seat next to her husband to explain to King how Kelley’s actions almost led to the demise of their marriage. She began by explaining how while he was in rehab, she learned that the weight of this difficult journey was not just on Kelley’s shoulders, but hers as well. 

“One thing that I was shocked about when he was in rehab, and I went out there for family week, you know, one of the first messages you receive is, ‘you’re going to have to do just as much work here.’ And I remember being so mad,” she admitted. 

“Like, you did this and now I have to do all of this work too? But the truth is that they call it the family disease of alcoholism, and it affects every person in that family system. So I could have chosen not to do the work, but then I have to live with the way that I’ve been affected and unhealed,” Cassie continued. “So whether Charles and I were in a marriage or not, whether I saw him again for the rest of my life, I still had to deal with what I had gone through.”

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The couple had been on a trip to Greece just before Kelley made his way to the rehab facility. One night, the singer went out, turned off his phone, and didn’t return until the next morning. Cassie revealed that at this point, she believed their relationship was coming to an end. 

“The next morning I said, ‘you need help. You have to deal with this.’ And he said he knew and he made a plan with his manager and he flew directly from Greece to treatment,” Cassie shared as she thought back to this moment. “But at that point, I thought I was fully flying back to the U.S. I was going to meet with a divorce attorney like, that was it.”

“I mean, I guess again, it just makes me feel so grateful at how close I came to losing it all,” Charles Kelley added. “And I think the thing that’s hard is to know how much it affected Cassie the most in my band and the people around me and how much it emotionally kind of wrecked them for a while and that can’t really say I’m sorry enough and it’s just going to take time to rebuild that.”

Charles Kelley; Photo Provided
Charles Kelley; Photo Provided

The singer/songwriter reached a milestone at the start of the year when he revealed that he had officially been sober for six months. He took the time to thank his friends, family and fans for their support in a heartfelt video that he posted to social media. 

“Hey everybody, just wanted to wish you all a Happy 2023, may this be the best year yet,” Kelley began.

”My wife [Cassie] reminded me actually a couple of days ago that I’d hit my six-month sobriety mark. Woo-hoo, couldn’t have done it without her above all my bandmates, so much support, God. Gosh, I just wanted to say just the comments and the shares from my song ‘As Far As You Could’ have been just amazing,” he continued.

Charles Kelley went on to show his support for anyone else out there who is on their own mission to get sober and revealed his excitement towards moving forward with his bandmates. 

“I’ve been praying for all of y’all as well. I know a lot of people are going through this journey or have someone that they love going through this journey and it means the world,” he said. “Just feeling super blessed and just going to try to keep doing the next right thing is what I keep telling myself. I’m just really enjoying this journey. Cannot wait to get back out on the road with my bandmates and yeah make some music. Love you guys.”

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Charles Kelley even penned a “goodbye letter to alcohol” through an emotional song that he penned with Dave Haywood and Jimmy Robbins. This tune finds Kelley opening up about his addiction, how it affected those around him and what it was like to be so heavily involved in an industry where drinking on the road or before taking the stage is so common.   

“Cause you took me high / but you sure as hell brought me down / you said goodbye… But I’m gonna see you around / and to tell the truth / I thought I never would / but it’s time I finally put you down for good / cause you’ve taken me as far as you could,” he sings on the chorus.

This song dropped a few months after Lady A announced they were postponing their headlining Request Line Tour to allow Kelley to take some much-needed time to focus on himself. 

Lady A; Photo by Hodges Usry
Lady A; Photo by Hodges Usry

“We are a band, but more importantly…we’re family,” Lady A collectively shared at the time. ”We’re proud to say that Charles has embarked on a journey to sobriety. So, right now in order to be the healthiest, strongest and most creative band we can be, Lady A will take the time with the support of our families and team of professionals to walk through this together.”

The band has since returned to the road with back-to-back sold-out nights at Nashville’s iconic Ryman Auditorium on April 14 and 15. The rescheduled headlining trek will take Lady A on a total of 21 stops. 

Their next performance is slated for May 12 in Indio, CA. 

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.