Breaking into the country music scene has not proven easy for many aspiring artists. Carly Pearce was someone who faced these difficulties herself, but she did it, broke through and has become a big name in the industry. Her breakthrough single “Every Little Thing” placed her as the highest charting solo female debut since July 2015 – one of only three women to gain this title over the last 12 years.
Dedication to country music has always been with Carly – dropping out of school at 16, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee to perform at Dollywood. It was here that she learnt everything she needed to know about the industry.
Carly is strong-willed and truly devoted to country music, which is part of the reason she has become so successful, alongside her incredible talent. We spoke to Carly about getting to where she is now, where she gets her motivation from and how she coped with being on stage from such a young age…
“Music wasn’t a choice for me, it chose me. I never felt that I was going to give up on music, I always knew I was going to do it.” – Carly Pearce
Originally from Kentucky, Carly Pearce has always loved country music. It’s always been the only thing she wanted to do, and so at the sweet, young age of 16, a very determined Carly convinced her dad to let her quit high school so she could be homeschooled instead. Since then, we began her journey in country music, doing anything and everything she could to make ends meet and pursue her country career. “Being in the top five on country radio with a heartbreak ballad, as a female, on my breakout album, is probably the thing that has been most rewarding for me.My Grand Ole Opry debut was the most memorable experience for me though! I always wanted to sing on the Opry as a child, and I consider that the highest honour as a country music artist,” she explained when we asked what her career highlight has been.
Taylor Magazine: You started performing when you were 16. That’s such a young age – you must have been really driven and motivated. How did you cope with managing such a busy timetable when you were that young?
Carly Pearce: I don’t know if that even registered as a teenager! I loved singing and being on stage – I knew that it was what I wanted to do. I did my schooling in between my shows, which was busy and chaotic, but that’s the way I thrive, so it just felt like the norm.
Taylor Magazine: What was the most challenging part of getting your name out there and getting your voice heard?
Carly Pearce: I worked at Dollywood, so that’s how I got my break. When I moved to Nashville, I did all sorts: cleaned Airbnb’s, nannied, worked in retail and ssang at any open mic night that I could. I tried to meet as many people as I could, so I could find people to write songs with. I had a record deal and lost it, so I’ve been through everything that you could possibly have been through in Nashville, but I still felt like I had the fire to keep going.
Taylor Magazine: How did you find that motivation when you realised that things might be harder than expected, especially living in Nashville where your dreams must have felt so close?
Carly Pearce: Stories that I heard about people like Garth Brooks, who were in Nashville for around ten years before making it big, hearing how nobody really knows what the next big thing is going to be until it happens. Being willing to stick it out. Music wasn’t a choice for me, it chose me. I never felt that I was going to give up on music, I always knew I was going to do it!
Taylor Magazine: Every Little Thing has had such an overwhelming response – what was the most rewarding and most challenging part of releasing this album?
Carly Pearce: It really hasn’t been hard at all! I feel like I found a team who really believed in what I wanted to do. I got to make an album that I really wanted – I think that’s because I spent the last eight years really putting in the work, not settling, digging deep into what I wanted to say, and in the way I wanted to. I made an album which is 100% the way I wanted it to be.
Taylor Magazine: What was your inspiration behind the album?
Carly Pearce: I named it Every Little Thing because this is every little thing that I ever wanted to make in a debut album. The songs tell a story – it takes me back to Kentucky and back to my good times and bad, heartbreak, falling in love – it’s everything in one.
Taylor Magazine: What would you say is your favourite song you’ve written and why?
Carly Pearce: Every Little Thing! It sparked a new layer of vulnerability for me and honesty in songwriting, with a spearhead of how I gauged every other song I wrote on the album.
Taylor Magazine: Tell us a bit more about the song writing process. What steps do you take?
Carly Pearce: It depends on how I’m feeling. It always comes from how I’m feeling – maybe I’m going through something at the time, or I could read something that makes me think. It depends on what’s going on in my life at that moment in time.
Taylor Magazine: Who are you listening to at the moment?
Carly Pearce: I really love Maren Morris, I listen to her a lot. I will forever listen to Alison Krauss – I listen to her on the regular. I love Niall Horan too, he’s really amazing!
Taylor Magazine: We’re all about self-care and simple living. What would you do if you had a stressful day – how would you relax?
Carly Pearce: It would start with being at home in Nashville. I’m a runner and I love to run so I would do that. I also love to cook so I’d make dinner, hang out at home and chill in silence, with my cats of course! Drinking wine with my girlfriends and shopping too – I’m very much a normal girl in her twenties!
“I’ve been through everything that you could possibly have been through in Nashville, but I still felt like I had the fire to keep going.” – Carly Pearce
Taylor Magazine: What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?
Carly Pearce: I would give her a hug, number one! I would tell her: ‘Everything is going to be ok!’ She needs to not freak out, and she doesn’t need to change for anyone.
Taylor Magazine: Tell us something nobody would know about you.
Carly Pearce: When I moved to Nashville and had the dream to play on the Opry, I convinced my parents to buy me a pair of crazy expensive cowboy boots, three years before I even had the opportunity to play the Opry at all! I promised them that I would only wear them on my Opry debut. Three years later, I pulled them out of the box and wore them for the first time.
Taylor Magazine: What should we look out from you in the next year, and then in the future in general?
Carly Pearce: In the near future, I’m just focusing on my tour and trying to get as many people listening to my music but in the future, I hope I am nominated for really cool awards and part of the genre like Dolly and Reba are.
Check out Carly’s latest single Hide The Wine here.