Country music's geographic underpinnings are right there in the title: country. But while many a country crooner sings about rural life, small towns and livestock, not a whole lot of them actually grew up in such a setting.
Jamie Lin Wilson sure did. Raised in tiny Sealy, Texas, she slept atop her horse, learned to play basketball atop her horse and, perhaps most critically, managed to avoid having an uncomfortable conversation with her parents about where babies come from when one of her family's horses topped another horse.
“My dad would be, like, ‘Come on out, kids. This is biology,’” says Wilson, whose first exposure to sex and childbirth thus came before the age of 10. “We never had to have that awkward talk.”
Those procreative ponies seem to have set a fine example for Wilson, who's raising four children with her cattleman husband, Roy, on their Hill Country property outside of San Antonio in D'Hanis, Texas. (Their kids each own cattle; they were baptism gifts from Roy's parents, who are also in the biz.) Simply rearing such a high quantity of offspring would be heroic for anyone, but Wilson moonlights as one of the Lone Star State's most well-respected and in-demand singer-songwriters. An alum of The Trishas, an all-female Americana supergroup of sorts, Wilson just dropped her second solo album, “Jumping Over Rocks,” to much critical acclaim, and contributed vocals to high-profile releases by The Turnpike Troubadours and American Aquarium.
Wilson grew up in Sealy with about a dozen horses. Her dad was a roper, while her mom did some reining for Ronnie Rice, an extremely successful Texas cutting horse trainer. She and her brother were involved in youth rodeo and could ride proficiently from about the time they could read.
“My dad used to tell us that we couldn't ride by ourselves until we could put a saddle on by ourselves, so we figured out how to bring the horse to the water trough and put the saddle on together,” she recalls. "We were only like 6 and 8, but we figured it out, and my dad's like, ‘Well, all right, have fun.’ So all of a sudden, we had wheels. We used to ride our horses to our friends’ houses, even across the highway, two or three miles down the road.”
“My parents sometimes say they were sorry we didn't take vacations or go a lot of places, but I would say my friends didn't go out and weekends and saddle up six horses and ride around on their land,” she adds. “That was our free time. My brother and I would pretend to be cowboys and Indians on our pasture. We would play basketball on horseback. There's no concrete here; we live on a dead end of a dirt road. Our basketball goal was on gravel in the driveway. I would throw my brother an alley-oop and he would stand up and dunk it off horseback. They were just so calm, and now I realize that's really rare. I would take naps on mine; her name was Chrissy. They were like members of our family.”
Wilson's exposure to horse racing is limited to racing her brother in their parents' pasture. But her appreciation for equine power is profound.
“Horses teach you how to deal with people, how to approach certain situations," she says. "You don't know what you're getting into, whether it's a horse or a 2-year-old child. They gave my brother and I a lot of confidence and independence.”