No. 24: Gretchen Wilson – Country’s Most Powerful Women of All Time
It's fair to wonder, without Gretchen Wilson, does Miranda Lambert's music thrive? Artist No. 24 on this list of country music's greatest females of all time brought power and blue collar sensibilities back to country just when pop influence had started to turn things pretty.
"Real" is the only way to describe Wilson and her brand of country. She didn't just sing about a Skoal ring — you could see it in the pocket of her worn-in bluejeans! There was no wink or smile when she'd sing "Don't make me take my earrings out." Prim, proper and pretty were hip-checked to the sidelines when Wilson released "Redneck Woman," a song that soared to No. 1 on country airplay charts. Four more Top 10 singles followed before she began to lose a grip on radio airplay.
Remembering Wilson as only the "Redneck Woman" is naive. "When I Think About Cheatin'," "I Don't Feel Like Loving You Today" and a post-Sony release called "I'd Love to Be Your Last" all showed emotional range and strength. She was a frequent Grammy nominee even after her days as perennial CMA and ACM nominee faded.
Wilson was and is a force. Newcomers like Brooke Eden and Tara Thompson call her an influence, and the grit she brought back to the female canon is heard every time Lambert sings about a rowdy night, Underwood kills a man in song or a newcomer throws back a shot of whiskey on stage. Loretta Lynn invented this fists first style decades earlier, but when women like Faith Hill and Shania Twain dominated in the early '00s, Wilson brought it back, and for a few short years the possibilities seemed endless for women in country music.
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