By Tammy Everitt
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Country artist Gretchen Wilson will kick off this year’s concert lineup at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Saturday evening. Wilson will perform two shows, at 7:30 and 10 p.m., in the Terrace Showroom.
Wilson, burst onto the country scene back in 2004 with the release of her first album, “Here for the Party,” which spawned her first No. 1 hit, “Redneck Woman.” Wilson’s sophomore CD, “All Jacked Up,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard country chart. The title track was the highest-debuting single for a female country artist upon its 2005 release.
Wilson recently talked with The Herald Bulletin.
THB: Catch us up with what’s going on with you.
Gretchen Wilson: Since my debut album a couple of years ago, “I Got Your Country Right Here” on my own record label, things have personally slowed down for me in the business. In September 2011, I lost my Uncle Vernon. We were very close and only six years apart. He lived on my 400-acre farm and was the grounds keeper when I was gone. Losing him upset everybody in the family. We couldn’t really stand to go back on the property. I sold the farm. It changed everything. My studio got put away in storage, and it’s taken a long time to get everything back out of storage. It’s been tough trying to find the will to sing country music again without crying through it.
This year is going to be a new start for us, and we’ve got the studio put back together. The band and myself are fixing to put out three records this year. One of them will be some old favorite classic rock music, and we’re also going to put out a Christmas album. It’s been so long since we have had that kind of time in the studio. (Hadn’t had much time in the studio due to financing.) I own the studio, so we’ll go at our own pace. I don’t have to pay $1,000 a day for it, so we’re choosing songs together and really working the music.
THB: Nashville’s in the spotlight on television right now with the premiere of ABC’s “Nashville.” Do you watch?
Wilson: I saw the first episode of the series. I think mainly I watched because everyone said it would be the real thing. A lot of the situations and the things unfolding are definitely going on there. I was probably pretty close to that myself at one time. Music Row can be a “One Way Street” — and that’s why I ran from it. There are a lot of true situations, but it’s definitely a soap opera. Lucky for me, I was able to pack and run.
THB: What is a typical day in the life on the road like for you?
Wilson: Believe it or not, with being a mom (to 12-year-old daughter, Grace) and taking care of everything at home, I sleep in on the road. I can go to work to relax. I usually try to get caught up on computer work. I do interviews from the bus and try to get as much stuff done while I’m out there. Grace comes out on spring break and fall break. In the summer time she’s out with me quite a bit. When I’m touring during her school year, my mom or her dad has her. She loves school and loves the drama department.
THB: What country music artists does Grace like?
Wilson: She likes Blake (Shelton). Oddly enough, most of her “friends” are not into country music. She is probably closer to Kid Rock, whom she refers to as “Uncle Bobby,” than Martina (McBride), even though she and I are friends. Grace has expressed her displeasure to me that some of my lyrics (referencing bales of hay and moonshine) — are dumb. I have to gently remind her that everything she had the first two years of her life came from Goodwill or yard sales.
THB: Who has been the most influential person in your life, outside of your music career, and why?
Wilson: All of the women in my family. I can’t choose just one — my mother, aunt and grandmother.
THB: Who would you most like to surprise you by appearing at one of your concerts?
Wilson: George Jones. I would love to sing with him. I’ve been saying that for 10 years, but I don’t think he is listening.
THB: When you’re listening to the radio and one of your songs comes on, what do you do? Do you turn the station or sing along with it? Or just listen quietly?
Wilson: I probably just critically listen. It’s hard to turn it off — because I’m constantly still judging. Why did I leave that in there? It’s almost impossible to be done with creativity.
THB: What is your most memorable moment as a country singer?
Wilson: I have several, but the one that just came to mind was an awards show that was the biggest influence on my musical career. Heart (Ann and Nancy Wilson) shared the stage with me in a rendition of Heart’s “Crazy On You.” After the song, Nancy Wilson presented me with her guitar. Nancy walked over to the guitar case and scratched the “N” out and replaced it with a “G” so it now reads G. Wilson.
THB: Who would you like to be paired with for a CMT Crossroads segment?
Wilson: Anybody at this point (laughing). I have talked to them a few times and offered up a few suggestions. Unfortunately, most times they were artists who had already appeared.
THB: What is your biggest lesson in life that you can share with your fans?
Wilson: To never be a victim — always be a survivor. You can choose whether or not, no one chooses that for you. Life is a lot sweeter when conquering than when you can’t make it.
THB: Any plans to tour this year with Big & Rich?
Wilson: As of now, no talk about that. But it seems like every year I say that, and at some point MuzikMafia takes over and we end up doing something together, a benefit show or putting together a couple weeks of dates. But right now, there’s nothing on the schedule.
THB: What can fans expect out of Saturday night’s show?
Wilson: We’ll play the songs that people are expecting, the radio hits “Here for the Party,” “All Jacked Up,” “Homewrecker,” and most definitely “Redneck Woman.” You wouldn’t go to a Loretta Lynn concert and not hear “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” But we’ll also squeeze in some new stuff.