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 girl. Gretchen'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 ACM, CMA and AMA nods for best female vocalist; and she toured to large and raucous crowds around the world.
Her second CD, All Jacked Up, rode enthusiastic reviews to platinum status as Gretchen's accomplishments continued to stack up. Her third, One of the Boys, solidified her position as one of contemporary country's most original and multi-faceted female artists, a woman in whom ambition and ability come together in every aspect of her career.
Since her debut, she has been featured on "60 Minutes," "Dateline NBC," "20/20 Primetime" and CNNs "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.