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Gretchen Wilson

From Academic Kids

Gretchen Wilson (born 26 June, 1973) is a US country music singer. Her debut album Here for the Party topped the US country charts in 2004 and reached #2 on the Billboard album charts.

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Early career

Gretchen Wilson was born in a trailer park in Pocahontas, Illinois, 36 miles outside St. Louis on Interstate 70, to a single mother, who was 16 when Wilson was born. Wilson grew up in poverty and moved to a succession of trailer parks as her mother struggled to pay the rent through working as a waitress at a diner. She left school after the eighth grade and was working as a cook and bartender at 14. By 15, she was living on her own. She was singing in two bar bands by the age of 20.

She moved to Nashville in 1996 to pursue a career in music but found little initial success. She met John Rich in 2000, formerly a member of Lonestar, who suggested that she write songs with him. After some reluctance, she started working with him as a member of the MuzikMafia, a informal group of aspiring country songwriters and singers that met every Tuesday night. She also started singing as a backup singer on records. She has one child, a daughter named Grace Frances Penner.

Chart success

Wilson signed with Epic Records in 2003 and recorded Here for the Party in 2003. The first single "Redneck Woman" was released in early 2004 and quickly became a hit reaching the top of the Billboard country singles charts and #22 on the Billboard Hot 100, Due to the success of "Redneck Woman" Here for the Party was released earlier than planned on May 11, 2004 and debuted at #1 on the Billboard country chart. It also reached #2 on the Billboard 200 and Billboard Internet album sales charts. She built on the success on the album by performing as support artist for Brooks & Dunn and Montgomery Gentry.

The album and single have been released in markets outside the US and the album has reached #2 on the Australian country charts (behind Kasey Chambers) and the top 50 of the Australian charts. As of 5 July 2004, "Redneck Woman" was #1 on a world composite country chart (based on the US, UK and Australia) and "Here for the Party" was #4 as an album track.

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