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Wilson goes her own way

By Michael Rampa, May 2019

After having huge success at the get go with "Redneck Woman," Wilson eventually went her own way and took a break. During her "hiatus," Wilson started her own label and was a "120 percent mom" to her teenage daughter.

A lot of people have been wondering where you've been and what you've been up to. Can you tell them?
The last couple years, I've been back at it touring and making music. I signed a new artist, Jessie G, to my label. I've been working a lot with her on her EP and helping write songs. Before that I took a few years off. I had been touring nonstop all year every year for11-12 years, and I just felt like it was time to take a little break. I took three years to stay home and be a full-time 120 percent mom to my daughter. Those are critical years. 14,15, 16 years old. Mama needs to be there all the time. Then she hit 17 and basically said, where's that life you used to have? Do you want me to go get it back for you because you're driving me crazy. So, she put my ass in gear and got me back to work.

Gretchen Wilson - Here for the Party 2018

Do you think that time away was detrimental to your career given the momentum you had.
It could have been. I had conversations with my booking agent and those closest to me I'm a really busy woman. I manage myself, and I am the business manager for the record company and my tour. They were honest and said it could be detrimental, but it could also work on my behalf. I'd been working non stop for over a decade, and they thought I just might need to hit the reset button

Do you think getting your GED helped you in running a label?
This business is so weird. I think I had enough street smarts and industry experience. Getting that degree gave me a sense of pride and accomplishment and a feeling that I can do almost anything, even more so than having this career. A career in music is something you fall into, something you work hard for and if you're talented you can do it; but running a business, staying strong, that sense of pride. You don't get that sense when you're onstage singing. It's my most prestigious award, It even surpasses the Grammy and every other award that I've managed to collect.

Has that time away changed your musical perspective at all do you see an evolution of the Redneck Woman?
We all get older; my drink of choice has graduated just like my age has. I'm more of a red wine sipper now. I still get on the Jack Daniels every once in a while, but I also get up every morning and get on the John Deere zero turn and mow the yard and work outside. I'm about to throw dog poop over the fence right now. I'm just a regular person like everybody else. My persona of being a redneck woman will always remain. That's just who I am down in my core.

What are your thoughts on the state of country today and how contemporary it's gotten? The "Next women of country" all have a contemporary sound. Jessie is more traditional, and is there a place for that type of artist in a landscape with Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris, Danielle Bradberry and so on?
I must be completely insane because women have had a hard time being played on country radio for a long time and here I am; the female head of a record label with two female artists that's the entire roster. I don't know what I was thinking. I guess buck the system because that's what I've always done. What I love about country music now is it has gotten so wide, There's room for every kind of listener. If you like the real traditional stuff like I prefer it's there. You can find it. Brothers Osborne; they have a great traditional sound. The pendulum has been swinging back toward the traditional for a while now. There's always going to be a space for more contemporary sounding, younger country music. As long as we don't shut out the traditional, I'm great with it. With it being as wide as possible that just means there's more fans and more music in the genre. As for the women, there are a lot less girls out there like Jessie. I feel like she's got it the territory all to herself. Her only competition is me and I'm not going to fight her too hard. As for bro country, I wish that term didn't exist. It's not my favorite, but do I think it hurt country music, No.\

You've been openly critical of major labels is there something they do on a larger scale that you wish you had access to?
I wish I had the bankroll.

Blake said to one of The Voice contestants that he had not heard such an original voice in country music since Gretchen Wilson what does that mean to you?
Blake is always joking around about something so before I would say anything to him I would try to absorb that comment in 15 different ways. I think it's wonderful when they make comments like that. I just hope the person he said it to took that as a compliment.

You toured with ZZ Top. After the "Under The Covers" album, rock seems to be in your wheelhouse as well Have you considered a foray of making an original rock album?
I was never able to fully sit down and write a rock album. I had one song on last album with Kid Rock that could have been on a rock album. But the music I write tends to come out country.

What do you like most and least about running a label?
What I like most is the power of having final say: it was difficult before to be a singer/songwriter and co-producer and to walk a project that you've put your heart and soul into to someone who doesn't have a musical bone in their body for approval. That was always a tough part of this business for me. To be able to see that I'm the label head and the artist and the manager and it all comes down to my final approval for almost everything that's the part that helps me sleep good at night.
The worst thing is Quickbooks and writing the checks. Having to sit down a couple times a week to be a bookkeeper. A lot of people hire one. But I don't trust anyone else with the money. It's probably because I was poor all my life.