July 05, 2004 12:00 PM

AGE 31

HOMETOWN Pocahontas, III.

LATEST GIG The anti-Faith Hill

•Keepin’ it real: The ex-bartender is storming the country and pop charts with her debut album, Here for the Party, thanks to the hit anthem “Redneck Woman” (sample lyrics: “I keep my Christmas lights on, on my front porch all year long/And I know all the words to every Charlie Daniels song”). “There’s something in that song for every woman,” says Wilson, who co-wrote the tune. “It’s about pride and standing up for what you have.”

•You might not be a redneck woman if…You’re Paris Hilton. “A redneck woman would never dress her dog.”

•Small-town gal: Born to a single teenage mom in tiny Pocahontas (pop. 727), Wilson began performing at 15, the same age she started working at a nearby bar, Big O’s. Says Wilson: “This place was mostly friends and family—it was like daycare.”

•Living large: She just moved into a 17-acre estate outside Nashville, complete with a six-stall barn. “I probably won’t buy boats and Jet Skis—I’d rather buy horses and pigs,” says Wilson, who has a 3½-year-old daughter, Grace, with her longtime boyfriend Mike Penner, 36.

•So does she really keep her Christmas lights up too long? As she sings in “Redneck Woman,” hell yeah! “This year I didn’t even have time to put ’em up,” says Wilson. “I can tell you this, though: The tree with the lights and everything attached sat on my porch until springtime.”

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