To all appearances, Gretchen Wilson went overnight from talented obscurity to phenomenon. Her meteoric rise, the kind experienced by only a handful of artists in the past few decades, was that rare instance where talent and moment meet to form a cultural tidal wave. Still, she knows better than anyone the simple force that fueled it.
"The reason I've been successful is that I've been genuine from the get-go," she says, "and I continue to try to do that. I'm an open book." It helps that the identity she wears so guilelessly is one that resonates strongly with fans of country and Southern rock-- the independent, take-no-guff, hard-working and hard-partying country woman. Wilson's ability to inhabit that persona publicly, as well as her flair for tailoring songs as gorgeously rough-edged as she is, have given her the kind of "I am what I sing" originality few women in country music history--Loretta, Tammy, Dolly and Tanya chief among them-have ever been able to achieve.
Set as it was within the broader scope of the Muzik Mafia, a talented and audaciously original ensemble, and like-minded entertainers from Kid Rock to Hank Jr., her rise was part of a genuine musical and cultural groundswell. Her first single, "Redneck Woman," spent six weeks at No. 1; her debut album, Here for the Party, sold more than five million copies. She won across-the-board awards including a Grammy® and Academy of Country Music, Country Music Association, and American Music Awards honors for best female vocalist. She toured to large and raucous crowds around the world. Her second CD, All Jacked Up, rode enthusiastic reviews to platinum status as Wilson's accomplishments continued to stack up.
She has been featured on 60 Minutes, Dateline NBC, 20/20 Primetime and CNN's People in the News," and she has appeared on virtually every morning, noon and late-night television show on the air. Magazine covers and major news features could paper an entire wall.
A few years after her incredible rise to country music popularity, Wilson says she continues to grow artistically and personally. "I think sometimes that I haven't even found my purpose yet," she says. "I think sometimes this is a stepping stone and there's something greater still for me to do. I'm not sure what, yet, but a lot of it I think comes from this overwhelming sense that my grandma knew something I didn't know. I know what her purpose was now. She never even could find her natural parents, but her purpose was to make me who I am, because I didn't have anybody else who molded me. She was it, and I know I have a greater purpose than all of this too, and I have a feeling that somehow she'll be the one to tell me."
In 2009, Wilson launched her record label, Redneck Records. As owner and president, Wilson oversees virtually all operations of the label. In October 2009, she released the label's first single, "Work Hard, Play Harder."
I Got Your Country Right Here