Wilson, Gretchen 1973- (Gretchen Frances Wilson)

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Wilson, Gretchen 1973- (Gretchen Frances Wilson)

PERSONAL:

Born June 26, 1973, in Pocahontas, IL; children: Grace Frances.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Club 27, Bubble Up, 160 Rains Ave., Upper Fl., Nashville, TN 37203. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Country music singer. Printers Alley, Nashville, TN, bar singer, c. 1996-2003; Epic Records, contracted singer, 2003—. Also worked as an actress.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Herizon award, Country Music Association, 2004, for female vocalist of the year; breakthrough favorite new artist, American Music Awards, 2004; female country artist of the year and new country artist of the year, Billboard Music Awards, 2004; best country female vocal performance, Grammy Awards, 2005, for Redneck Woman; breakthrough video of the year, Country Music Television Music Awards, 2005, for Redneck Woman; female video of the year, Country Music Television Music Awards, 2005, for "When I Think about Cheatin'"; best new artist and top female vocalist, both from Academy of Country Music Awards, both 2005; female vocalist of the year, Country Music Association Awards, 2005; best female artist, American Music Awards, 2005, for country music.

WRITINGS:

(With John Rich and Kenny Alphin) Here for the Party: Piano, Vocal, Guitar, Sony/ATV Music (Nashville, TN), 2004.

(With John Rich) Redneck Woman (sheet music), Warner Bros. (Miami, FL), 2004.

(With Vicky McGehee and John Rich) All Jacked Up, EMI Music (Milwaukee, WI), 2005.

(With Allen Rucker) Redneck Woman: Stories from My Life, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2006.

SIDELIGHTS:

Gretchen Wilson is a country music singer. Like many hopeful country music performers, Wilson moved to Nashville in 1996 and began singing in bars. Her talent was courted by Big Kenny and John Rich, of the country music duo Big & Rich, who eventually helped her make some demos and get signed by a major record label. Her debut album won top awards from the Country Music Association, the Music Awards, and the Billboard Music Awards in 2004.

In 2005 Wilson released her second album, All Jacked Up, writing the songs with assistance from Vicky McGehee and John Rich. She recorded the album while at the height of her breakthrough year, releasing this album later on to avoid scheduling conflicts. Wilson wrote songs about her upbringing and the life she lived before becoming a singing sensation, including shopping at Wal-Mart, working behind a bar, and tailgate parties.

Roger Holland, writing on the PopMatters Web site, commented: "Unfortunately, All Jacked Up is everything you might expect from a hurried follow-up to a record setting debut." Holland did say, however, that "it's quite clear that Wilson can sing, and that she can carry a show and an audience, and that she has it within her to become important in people's lives. Hopefully posterity will show All Jacked Up as an inevitable momentum-maintaining placeholder in an otherwise stellar career, because Gretchen Wilson is precisely the sort of potentially great performer that country music needs." Jonathan Keefe, writing in Slant, remarked that "only a lightweight could get any kind of buzz off of" this album. Keefe stated: "The glimmer of hope that she might someday release an album without a single song that debases her own gender, obviously, isn't enough to qualify All Jacked Up as a good album by any meaningful standard, but that's not what Wilson's audience wants anyway. Whether or not they wanted a watered-down version of what they liked on the first go-round, that's what Wilson's served up on All Jacked Up."

With Allan Rucker, Wilson published a memoir on her rise from a trailer park school drop-out to a country music star called Redneck Woman: Stories from My Life. The book's title is the same as her debut album's most popular song, which remained at number one on the charts longer than any other debut country female artist since 1964. The memoir tells of her upbringing in the trailer parks, moving frequently for not being able to pay the bills, and dropping out of school to work for a living. When she made the move to Nashville, she ended up at the right place at the right time, and her singing career began to flourish with an award-winning breakthrough debut album.

A contributor to Kirkus Reviews commented that Wilson the songwriter "has profited from that other chestnut of authorial wisdom: Write what you know." The contributor noted, however, that without a band behind her and without her "startling pure, aggressive vocal tone, … what she knows isn't particularly compelling." The critic concluded: "We've heard this tune before, and better."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Wilson, Gretchen, Redneck Woman: Stories from My Life, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2006.

PERIODICALS

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2006, review of Redneck Woman: Stories from My Life, p. 896.

People, May 28, 2007, "Gretchen Wilson Gets Smart," p. 131.

Slant, 2005, Jonathan Keefe, review of All Jacked Up.

ONLINE

Askmen.com,http://www.askmen.com/ (January 30, 2008), author profile.

Country Music Television Web site,http://www.cmt.com/ (January 30, 2008), author profile.

Gretchen Wilson Home Page,http://www.gretchenwilson.com (January 30, 2008), author biography.

Gretchen Wilson MySpace Profile,http://www.myspace.com/gretchenwilsonmusic (January 30, 2008), author profile.

Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (January 30, 2008), author profile.

PopMatters,http://www.popmatters.com/ (October 21, 2005), Roger Holland, review of All Jacked Up.

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