Gretchen WilsonGretchen Wilson has never been one to shy away from hard work. Growing up in Pocahontas, Ill., even though she struggled at times with the hardships of living with her single mother in a trailer park, she had big dreams of being a singer.

"I pretty much always knew I wanted to be a singer, and of course I fell into my mama's footsteps and kind of followed what she did, and started tending bar and serving drinks at a pretty early age," Gretchen tells The Boot. "I also joined bands when I was 15 and 16. I was playing with two or three different bands. Every night of the week I was playing somewhere with a different band. I always knew that music was what I wanted to do, but I kind of had to keep shoes on my feet and supper on the table in the meantime."

Lyrics are always telling for a songwriter. They are, more often than not, autobiographical – offering insight into their personal lives, past and present. Gretchen's lyric from her song 'Pocahontas Proud': 'Where I came from, we don't give up easily,' says a lot about her determination to succeed in life.

"That [lyric] kind of came from just the struggles I went through as a child and what my mom went through as a really young, single mom with two kids," says Gretchen. "You learn really early on that if you want something, you've got to go out there and get it. Nobody's going to hand it to you. You can apply that to almost anything in life.

"I was talking to somebody earlier. They said, 'What advice would you give an up and coming Nashville singer/songwriter who wants to do what you're doing someday?' My biggest word of advice is you've got to be determined. You cannot give up on anything. If you're out there wearing your heart on your sleeve and you're going to get your feelings hurt every time somebody rejects you, you may really want to rethink what you're doing because you've got to take a lot of rejection. You've got to be determined and not give up and fight for what you want in this life."

Gretchen's determination led her to start her own label after taking out a mortgage on her property and launch her own label this year, Redneck Records, releasing her first album under her own banner: 'I've Got Your Country Right Here.'

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