Retta can sing. As she belts out the National Anthem at her high school graduation, she sees tears rolling down her classmate’s face. A voice like hers is special; Retta can sing anything the country music queens have recorded and sound just as good. She has the talent to make it big. But Retta has no car and no money. Will she spend her life working at Taco Bell, or will she take the enormous risk of heading to Nashville?
Each chapter begins with a short blurb about a famous country singer that tells how they got their big break. The following chapter is then named after one of the singer’s recordings. It’s a genuine treat to see how much dedication comes before success, and how often it comes about by a chance encounter. In Retta’s case, she hits Nashville in the middle of the Country Music Festival, an event that draws thousands every year. This could be disastrous. Or it could be the first step in Retta’s own big break.
One of the best stories of perseverance is that of Gretchen Wilson. Born in Pocahontas, Illinois, Wilson’s mother was a teenage waitress; home was in a trailer park. At fifteen, Wilson moved over to St. Louis, getting singing jobs in bars. Through a combination of hard work and grit, Wilson made her way to Nashville, where her first single, Redneck Woman, was released in 2004. For a firsthand account of Gretchen Wilson’s life, read Redneck Woman: Stories from My Life, by Gretchen Wilson and Allen Rucker.
Diane Colson, currently reading “Charm & Strange” by Stephanie Kuehn.