Lainey Wilson Reflects On Her Challenging Road to Success in Country Music

Nothing about Lainey Wilson‘s career happened by luck. The Louisiana native moved to Nashville when she was just 19 years old, living in a camper trailer on someone’s property for several years, while she worked relentlessly to get her music heard, by anyone. It took years of hard work, of barely scraping by, and have having doors slammed in her face — a lot — before she managed to make any headway with her career. Now, one of the reigning hitmakers in country music, Wilson is grateful for her journey, even the challenges, although she doesn’t want to go back and relive any of it again.

“I wouldn’t change it for anything,” Wilson tells iHeartRadio. “But I will say, if I had known how hard it was gonna be, I don’t know if I would’ve ever done it.”

Wilson’s tenacity comes in large part thanks to her rural childhood, when her father brought her her first horse home to ride.

“I remember the horse was bucking and it was acting crazy,” Wilson recalls. “And I was crying, ‘Let me down, let me down. I wanna get down. I’m scared.’  I remember it like it was yesterday. He told me, ‘You better hold on.’ Those words have stuck with me forever. Because any time I feel like I’m about to lose control or I’m about to fall and hit the ground, it just makes me dig in a little deeper, and it makes me just hold on.”

Wilson was already in Nashville for several years when she was able to get noticed for her music, at all. With numerous chances to give up, the determined singer says that was never, ever an option, even when her dream seemed impossible.

“It was interesting watching a lot of new artists move to town,” Wilson recounts. “I didn’t even get a publishing deal until year seven, and a record deal until year eight. And here we are, I’m working on year 12. We’re here now, but I’d see people pass me up and signing deals left and right, but I knew my time was coming. I did. I didn’t wanna be a flash in the pan. I’ve always tried to view it as brick by brick. And if that meant it was gonna take me a long time to build that dang house, then that’s what I was gonna do.”

While some advised Wilson to not tell people how long she had been in town, especially in an industry that values youth among female artists, the 30-year-old says it’s important that people know she wasn’t an overnight success.

“I’m proud of how long I’ve been working at this,” Wilson concedes. “Here I am 12 years later, and I’ve only gotten to this point. I want people to know that I didn’t just move to Nashville and it all of a sudden just happened. I want people to know that I have busted my tail and I deserve to be here. And if I get up there and say, ‘I’ve been in Nashville for 20 years,’ that should make people feel like, ‘Wow, this woman actually has something to say. She’s lived life.’ And I’m proud of that. So, I dare somebody to try to tell me that again. You’re living way behind times, brother. You better get with it.”

Once Wilson started releasing music, fans couldn’t get enough. Her debut “Things A Man Oughta Know,” went straight to No. 1, and earned her an ACM Award for Song of the Year. She also won two CMA Awards for Female Artist of the Year and New Artist of the Year. She had a No. 1 hit with Cole Swindell on “Never Say Never,” and has another Top 5 hit with “Heart Like A Truck,” as well as a Top 10 with “wait in the truck” with HARDY. For a female artist, Wilson knows those accomplishments are especially hard to come by, but even gender disparity isn’t enough to dissuade her, especially now.

“I do feel an extra pressure that I don’t know if dudes feel,” Wilson admits. “That makes me work harder. I think sometimes women are expected to bring a little extra to the table. But we got a lot to say, and sometimes women can say things in a way that a man can’t. I’m excited to see where country music is going right now, because I feel like they truly are letting us tell our side of the story.”

Wilson leads the list of nominees for the upcoming  CMT Music Awards with four nominations. Find all of Wilson’s music and tour dates at