Gretchen Wilson just released her first album, 'I Got Your Country Right Here,' on her own record label, Redneck Records. And while she says she's at peace with her decision to strike out on her own, it comes at a high price, including being forced to lay off 12 of her employees due to financial constraints.

"Twice in January I've had to do it in a couple of different chunks," Gretchen reveals to the Associated Press (quote via Detroit News). "It's the hardest thing ever to do. [They were] people that really believe in you and have been working on a project with you and trying to get you back where you truly believe you belong. I think it's harder for me to see in my crew's faces and my band's faces sometimes ... the stage we used to be standing on compared to now."

While both Sony Music and Gretchen called their decision to part ways mutual, the single mother doesn't hide her frustration with the label at this point. "I've not seen any money on royalties from anything I've done yet," she acknowledges -- a fact all the more shocking since Gretchen sold more than six million albums during her time there. Admitting she personally split costs with Sony to promote all three of her albums, she says there is still plenty of money that has gone unaccounted. "Kind of makes you wonder what that number that we spent is, doesn't it?" she asks.

Gretchen remains committed to moving full-speed ahead, even if it's a risky move that could cost her everything if the record label fails. Still, the former trailer park resident says she's content either way. "I've found that there's so much peace and happiness on my front porch for 30 minutes when the sun's going down that sometimes it will erase three weeks of craziness and chaos, and that's what it's all about. Just those 30-minute things you get. And that can happen on 400 acres or it can happen on a half-acre lot in a trailer park."

From the way her first single, 'Work Hard, Play Harder' is doing, chances are good Gretchen won't have to return to a trailer park anytime soon. Steadily climbing the charts, Gretchen will no doubt perform songs from her new album when she joins Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift, Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn and several others at the annual BamaJam Music & Arts Festival in June.



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Gretchen Wilson on AOL Music