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.
Gretchen’s ability to tailor songs as gorgeously rough-edged as she is, have given her the kind of “I am what I sing” originality few women in music history– Loretta, Janis, Dolly and Cher chief among them–have ever been able to achieve.
Her first single, “Redneck Woman,” spent six weeks at #1. Her debut album, Here For The Party, sold more than five million copies… and spawned three more top 5 hits including, “Homewrecker,” “When I Think About Cheatin’,” and the title track, “Here For The Party.”
Her second CD, All Jacked Up, saw four more hit songs like “California Girls,” “I Don’t Feel Like Loving You Today,” “Politically Uncorrect” (featuring Merle Haggard) and the title cut, and rode enthusiastic reviews to platinum status, and her third record, One of the Boys, solidified her position as one of contemporary music’s most original and multi-faceted female artists.
Since her debut, she has been featured on 60 Minutes, Dateline NBC, 20/20 Primetime, CNN’s People In The News, and she has appeared on virtually every morning, noon and late-night television show on the air.
She has won across-the-board awards including ACMs, CMAs, AMAs, Billboards, and is a Grammy winner, and nine-time nominee. Her first book, the autobiographical “Redneck Woman: Stories from My Life,” landed her on the prestigious New York Times Best Seller List.
Until recently, Gretchen was one of the millions of Americans who hadn’t finished high school. A dedicated mother, it was important for her to earn her diploma not only for herself, but to prove to her daughter just how important an education is. At the age of 34, Gretchen received her GED. Her friend and mentor, fellow musician Charlie Daniels, was a guest speaker at her graduation ceremony.
She has since become an advocate to help spotlight the funding needs of adult education programs and the adults on waiting lists hoping to further their education. She has spoke to a Congressional subcommittee about the need for continued funding and has been awarded the National Coalition for Literacy Leadership Award, which recognizes individuals and/or organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to improving literacy and raising awareness of adult literacy in the United States.
After much soul-searching, prayer and consultation, Gretchen left her original label home in July 2009 and launched her own label Redneck Records two months later. Gretchen produced her first album, I Got Your Country Right Here, with John Rich and Blake Chancey. It hit stores in March 2010 and debuted at #6 on the album chart. The Top 15 single “Work Hard, Play Harder” and the Grammy nominated “I’d Love To Be Your Last” were among the highlights.
“When it comes to my career,” she says, “I get involved on a personal level in everything that counts. I’m involved in the writing, recording, producing, mixing, merchandising, and promoting of the music, as well as the touring side, and I couldn’t be happier about it.”
In 2013, Redneck Records released three separate albums that covered everything from traditional country music and classic rock, to holiday favorites. The first of the three albums was entitled Right On Time. The debut single, an original from Gretchen called “Still Rollin’” is a song she says is about her relationship with her fans and the road. A Night Under The Covers included many of classic rock’s most memorable hits from the 1970’s. Faces, Journey, Van Morrison and Cheap Trick are just a few of the artists covered on this record. And in October of 2013, Gretchen released her first full Christmas album that featured traditional Christmas music as well as fun sing-a-longs like “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas!”
In 2014, Gretchen released the live album and DVD STILL Here For The Party.
Beyond career and family, Gretchen has maintained an active charitable role, performing in clubs and small theaters to raise money for organizations like St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Children’s Miracle Network. As the scope of her life continues to grow, the young woman from the tough background looks to find her ultimate place in the larger scheme of things. “I think sometimes this is a stepping-stone and there’s something greater still for me to do,” she says. “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 really found her ‘peace’ on this earth, but she is my saving Grace!”
And as the latest chapter in her life is still being written, this head modern mom, has come a long way, in both her personal and artistic lives. “It has been an adventure. I feel like I’ve grown so much spiritually, emotionally and professionally in the last couple of years,” she says. “Everything has evolved and I’m more in the moment now than I used to be.”