'The Redneck Woman' Gretchen Wilson opens up about nearly derailing her music career

In 2004, Gretchen Wilson won the Best Female Country Vocal Performance Grammy award for the song "Redneck Woman." It was a milestone in a music career that was nearly derailed time and time again.

"I went through enough in my life that I could have gone off the rails," Wilson told Fox Nation host and fellow musician John Rich. "And most people, doctors, friends, most of everyone would have said, 'Well, yeah, she had every right to go off the deep end and just lose it.'"

"But I saw that in front of me... that opportunity to better myself, to better my future, to better maybe my family's future. And I took it. I think there are those choices in life," she said, "You can choose to just wallow in your own pity and sorrow and say, 'I can't, I can't.' Or you can just take the bull by the horns and say, 'I can and I will. And even if it takes me forever.'"

In an emotional new episode of Fox Nation's "The Pursuit!" John Rich sat down with Wilson to talk about her difficult upbringing, their early days pursuing careers in the music industry, and the day she decided she could be a mother and a musician.

Musicians Big Kenny, Gretchen Wilson and John Rich of Big and Rich perform on stage at the 2011 CMT Music Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on June 8, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Musicians Big Kenny, Gretchen Wilson and John Rich of Big and Rich perform on stage at the 2011 CMT Music Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on June 8, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Mike Coppola/WireImage/Getty)

Rich, who became friends and collaborators with Wilson after a chance meeting in a Nashville bar, said that he remembered receiving a panicked phone call from Wilson shortly after she secured her first record contract.

"You are hyperventilating on the phone, bawling your face off. I can barely understand what you're saying," he said thinking back to that day. "And you said, 'I need to see you and I need to see you right now.'"

They met in the parking lot of a Kroger supermarket outside of Nashville in the middle of a rainstorm. A soaking wet Wilson jumped into the passenger seat of Rich's truck.

Nov. 2, 2008: Gretchen Wilson plays her hit "Redneck Woman" at a rally for Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at Marietta Collage in Marietta, Ohio.

Nov. 2, 2008: Gretchen Wilson plays her hit "Redneck Woman" at a rally for Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at Marietta Collage in Marietta, Ohio. (AP)

"I'm looking, "I said, what is going on?" remembered Rich.  "I said, 'Gretchen, what is going on? What was happening?'"

"I said, 'I'm pregnant,'" said Wilson, recalling the panic she felt at the time. "'I don't know what to do because I've got you all involved in this now... we've got the record deal now. We're in the studio, we're trying to get things started. And I'm about to just put a big wrench in everything here. And I don't know what I'm going to do... I probably should just pack up and just go back to Illinois.'"

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For Wilson, it was an overwhelming moment in her life when two of her greatest dreams were being realized — at the same time.

"From the time I can remember, I thought in my head and in my heart that a child would complete me," she said. "If I could have something to love and take care of and do better with than anyone ever did with me, that it would make my life make sense. And so more than anything, I wanted Grace, my daughter."

May 1: Gretchen Wilson and her daughter, Grace Frances Penner, arrive at the Barnstable Brown Derby party in Louisville, Ky.

May 1: Gretchen Wilson and her daughter, Grace Frances Penner, arrive at the Barnstable Brown Derby party in Louisville, Ky. (AP)

"But my second biggest dream in the world was happening," Wilson told Rich. "I was in the middle of recording and in big-time studios in Nashville, Tennessee, with big-time people. And my career was taking off and it was amazing. And then all the sudden boom... I thought I thought it was all going to come to an end."

"Then you said... 'Gretchen?" Wilson remembered. "How many kids does Loretta Lynn have?"

"And I said, 'Oh, I don't know. There's a bunch of them."

"And you said, 'If Loretta Lynn can have a career slingin' five, six, however many babies around the country with her, I'm pretty sure you'll be able to do it with one."

When it was all said and done, Wilson had her career and her daughter.

"My daughter is the first person in my family's history to go to college, and she wouldn't be there if I hadn't decided that I can do both things," she said. "I can imagine life without this career. Couldn't imagine it without her."

To watch all of "The Pursuit! with John Rich" go to Fox Nation and sign up today.

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