Gretchen Wilson is back -- but she never really went away.

Wilson might not be on the radio every hour on the hour like she was at the height of her success, when her debut single 'Redneck Woman' became on overnight sensation. It peaked at No. 8 in 2005, and remains her only Top 10 hit. But after several career setbacks she's taken control of her own career, forming her own label and scheduling a dizzying array of new releases for 2013.

“I’ll be putting out more music this year than I did in the first three years of my career,” Wilson tells Nashville's Tennessean newspaper. Those releases include 'Right On Time,' which she released in the spring, and 'Under the Covers,' an album of '70s classic rock covers that came out in May. The singer also plans to release a Christmas album this holiday season.

Wilson had to fight for her freedom to record elsewhere after her previous label left her fourth studio album unreleased for a year. “I had to be a man in those meetings in order to win my freedom back, otherwise Gretchen Wilson would not be making music right now," she says. "Gretchen Wilson would be sitting on a shelf because that’s the way those contracts work.”

Over the course of the past couple of years Wilson has sold her farm and moved to a new house, where she installed a recording studio. She now produces and engineers her own albums, which she records there with her touring band. She serves as her own A&R and even decides on album art.

That streamlined approach has led her to a degree of artistic freedom that she could have never enjoyed otherwise, and Wilson now says she wishes she had never signed with a major label in the first place, adding that she only did so because she was desperate to take a shot before she got too old -- at the relatively young age of 30.

Now Wilson is hoping to be a trailblazer for other women to be taken more seriously in Nashville's male-dominated business environment. "I’m not just fighting for me and Redneck Records,” she says. “I’m fighting for women in these roles. A woman can be a president of a record company. A woman can produce a record. A woman can engineer a record. A woman can put the damn thing together, and a woman can sell it."

She adds, "This year is about proving that, even if we don’t break charts. As a female, the day that I find a very talented new artist that I want to walk into Warner Bros. or Sony or Curb … (I want to) be taken seriously.”