CHICAGO — Gretchen Wilson didn’t think turning 40 last week was a big deal. To her, it was just another number. Turning 36 a few years ago? That was a different story.
“For whatever reason, 36 was hard for me,” Wilson said on Monday, two days before she officially hit 40, from her home in Tennessee. “I felt like that was getting old. When I was a kid, as soon as someone said they’re 36, I thought, ‘Oh, they’re old.’ Maybe 50 will be hard for me as well. But I feel like I’m in the best place I’ve ever been in life. Forty looks really good.”
Wilson is best known for her Grammy-winning hit “Redneck Woman,” off her 2004 debut album, “Here for the Party.” She followed that up with the album “All Jacked Up,” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in 2005. In 2009, the Pocahontas native parted ways with Sony Music Nashville and ambitiously created her own label, Redneck Records.
“Some people will say they have their own label, but they don’t really,” Wilson said. “It’s usually ‘slash-Warner Bros.’ or ‘slash-Sony.’ Nobody put a second mortgage on their house like I did to build a studio in their home for their record company. I’m one of the only people crazy enough to do that.”
Wilson is also one of the only people crazy enough to release three albums in the same year rather than one album every two or three years like other artists. She followed up “Right on Time,” released in April, with “Under the Covers,” which is a collection of classic rock covers such as Cheap Trick’s “I Want You to Want Me” and Journey’s “Lights.” Later this year, she expects to release a Christmas album she is in the process of recording.
It wasn’t clear why Wilson wanted all three albums to hit stores in the same year, but she did say she doesn’t like staying away from the recording studio for long periods of time. One can also assume it’s a lot easier to record when you are your own boss and have your own studio.
In addition to recording, Wilson said she is busy raising her 12-year-old daughter, Grace. Grace is a music fan like her mom — just not the kind of music you might expect.
“She’s not a big fan of country music,” Wilson said. “Not many 12-year-old girls are. She loves One Direction and anybody British. I’m sure she’ll find her way to other kinds of music. When I was her age, the walls of my bedroom were covered with Madonna, Prince and Michael Jackson.”
Wilson isn’t that kid any more (she now loves country and classic rock, in addition to older blues and jazz). That kid probably would be a lot more excited about an upcoming birthday than Wilson was this week. Still, she did plan on celebrating with family at an Italian restaurant.
Asked if she had accomplished everything she had set out to accomplish by age 40, Wilson said she had, and then some.
“Where I come from, what this girl’s life got started with, I wasn’t supposed to be here,” Wilson said. “To have been successful for nine years and still be relevant and to go to the places I’ve gone and meet the people I’ve met, it’s more than anybody can ask for.”
If you go
What: Gretchen Wilson
When: 7 p.m. July 20
Where: Deep Water Amphitheater, Manson
Cost: $49- $162.20