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Redneck Woman: Stories from My Life (w/DVD)

By Gretchen Wilson with Allen Rucker

Warner Books, $23.99 202 pages (hard cover)

Reviewed by Michael Sudhalter, November 2006

Find it on Amazon
Gretchen Wilson jumped onto the country music in 2003 with the catchy anthem "Redneck Woman." Along with it, she's carried on the persona of the song. If her autobiography, written along with Los Angeles-based author Allen Rucker, is any indication, there's no question that this act is authentic. Wilson is able to illustrate the people and events who made her the musical artist/person that she is today.

Early in the book, Wilson paints the picture of a dysfunctional family in economically depressed Pocahontas, Ill. Like she sings in "Pocahontas Proud," Wilson worked as a bartender at Big O's, and that's where her social circle - family, friends, etc. - spent a lot of their time. That's where the singer can claim her "redneck" credentials.

But different stories that she tells points to the fact that this "Redneck Woman" isn't just country to the bone.

She writes about wanting a better life free of the midwestern rural poverty and cites the importance of her family, particularly her grandmother, whose life was marked by shattered dreams.

Wilson has an aura of street smarts about her and that could be attributed to living in Miami, Fla. during part of her childhood. As a teenager/young adult, she played in rock bands that were popular in greater-St. Louis.

Her struggle of trying to get a record deal mirrors that of a million different musical artists. She got her big break when John Rich visited the bar where she was bartending.

Then, she writes about the biggest event in her life, when her daughter Grace was born, and "Camp GW," the compound near Nashville where she lives along with many relatives from Illinois. This chapter illustrates that she hasn't forgotten where she came from.

The book, which references songs from both of her albums, is well-written with deeper insights into the songs - many of which are based on Wilson's personal experiences. It's a quick read into one entertainer's rags-to-riches story. If you want to know more about Wilson's tale, it's worth reading.