Carly Pearce certainly has the perspective to truly savor success. The country music star endured crushing disappointments both professionally and personally early in her career, losing her original record deal with Sony and dealing with a devastating breakup. In spite of all this, Carly never lost her faith. Ironically, her greatest heartbreak would eventually become the kindling for her greatest triumph, serving as the inspiration for her emotional ballad “Every Little Thing.” She was fully committed to portraying the experience as authentically as possible, even going so far as to personally select a dead ringer for her ex to play her muse in the accompanying music video. Her raw vulnerability resonated deeply with her fans, launching her meteoric rise to prominence on the country music scene.
Cliché: You started touring with a band when you were 11. What was it like to have the opportunity to perform that early in life? Did it shape your vision of your career goals as an adult?
Carly Pearce: I think it was SO valuable to have that kind of experience at such a your age. We are developing so much of ourselves in those adolescent years that I think it helped me to start to understand what it really meant to be an “artist” and put on a show.
At 16, you quit high school to take a job performing at Dollywood, which still holds a special place in your heart. Why did you want to perform there? What did the experience teach you?
I wanted any excuse to be able to sing and perform full time. My grandma was a huge Dolly fan, so from a young age I fell in love with her music and everything that she represented. I had visited Dollywood several times as a child and remember seeing the shows. When I saw the audition, I knew that THIS would serve as the “high school” I needed before making the jump to Nashville. That experience taught me SO much about performing so many times in a day, singing sick, taking care of my voice. It was my first job!
Talk about your debut single, “Every Little Thing.” What was the inspiration behind that song?
“Every Little Thing” is a true diary entry out of my life of losing love. I went through a pretty devastating heartbreak in my early 20s that shook me.
How have you managed to get over heartbreak? Any words of wisdom for anyone else dealing with heartbreak?
I am a big believer in faith. I had to constantly remind myself that whatever was meant to be for me was coming and that this wasn’t the situation that God wanted for me for my life. I think taking it day by day and understanding YOUR worth are so important. You WILL find someone who deserves you and treats you with respect. It’ll be easy.
In contrast, “Hide the Wine” is seemingly about resisting the temptation to get involved with someone. Do you think that writing about your personal life in your music gives you a greater degree of emotional clarity with respect to your relationships?
Definitely! I think being completely authentic in my writing allows me to tackle some things in my own life that I need to “deal with,” all while being so transparent that it relates to listeners. I am no different than any other woman in their late 20s. I just so happen to have the microphone.
Which of your songs is most meaningful to you and why?
Definitely “Every Little Thing.” It obviously is the reason I get to do this and made SO many dreams come true for me, but I also think it was the true marker for me of “wow, when you’re willing to go there and be vulnerable, look at what happens.” I always reference that song in my mind as the bar for what my lyrics need to represent.
Uproxx determined that you had “the best country debut of 2017.” What about 2017 was so important for your career? How do you hope to expand upon that success?
I had SO many firsts. First record deal, first song on the radio, debut album release, first song going #1, first national TV appearance, etc. 2017 was my introduction into the country music family. I claimed my identity and hope that I always view that year as the one that gave me my shot.
Your road to country music stardom hasn’t always been smooth sailing – you’ve spoken about losing your first record deal with Sony. How did you overcome that setback without losing faith in your own talent?
Trust me, I had moments of wanting to give up. I cried more in that phase of my life than any other. There was something inside of me that KNEW this was my destiny. From the time I could talk, all I knew was country music. I had amazing parents and friends that helped to pick me up and encourage me to keep fighting.
Country music in particular is heavily male dominated. What was your experience like as a woman trying to break into the industry?
I think that it’s obviously harder for women, we all know that at this point. I had plenty of industry people tell me “oh wow, debut single from a new female… a ballad? In the summer? That’s never going to work.” But what’s so beautiful about my story is that the FANS showed them they wanted to hear my music. I’ll never forget that.
How have other women in the industry reacted to you, both when you were starting out and now as an established singer? Is the atmosphere more competitive or supportive?
There’s SO much love! I’ve had so many cheerleaders along the way. Kelsea Ballerini being the biggest, taking me on the road with her to open shows before I even had a record deal– and now, so many of us keep in touch and text and really are in each other’s corners.
Most recently, CMT honored you with their Breakthrough Video of the Year award for “Every Little Thing.” As an artist, what does it mean to you to not only bring your vision to life in the video, but have it recognized on such a huge stage?
Oh my gosh, HUGE! I wanted the video to mirror how transparent and honest I was with writing the song. I hand-picked the guy to even LOOK like the guy who was my ex. When I watched the first edit with my mom, she cried because she remembered how devastated I was during that time.
Are you enjoying your current tour with Rascal Flatts and Luke Bryan?
I am having the TIME OF MY LIFE out on the road right now. To be able to be a part of tours of male acts that I’ve been a fan of for years is truly a dream come true. AND THEY’RE SO KIND! I feel like I’m gaining lots of country music uncles.
What’s next for you? What projects do you have your eye on?
I’m starting to write for CP 2 which I’m very excited for. I see hopefully a headlining tour at some point, CMAs & ACMs… my biggest goal is to become an Opry member. That is the ultimate honor for me!
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Carly Pearce Appreciates Every Little Thing. Photo Credit (in order): Rachel Deeb, Harper Smith. Album art courtesy of Big Machine Records.