Gretchen Wilson has strong ties to both Illinois and Missouri. She grew up in the tiny interstate-side village of Pocahontas, Illinois, and before departing for Nashville, she played six nights a week at Springfield, Missouri, honky-tonks. Wilson is on the downslope of a whirlwind six years that saw her go from unknown backup singer to Music City royalty after being discovered by hit maker John Rich (of Big & Rich fame). However, her 2004 single, "Redneck Woman," was the first No. 1 country-music single by a female artist in two years, one that opened the floodgates for today's largely female-dominated Nashville scene. Wilson's summer schedule is taking her mostly to casinos and county fairs, but she's still known for rough-edged, energized live performances built around her powerful Midwestern drawl and unapologetic tough-girl ethos.