It was a Thanksgiving week that Carly Pearce will never forget. After watching for months, the Big Machine recording artist got to live out a dream – to hear the hosts of the weekly country music radio countdowns announce her single “Every Little Thing” as the No. 1 country radio song in the United States.
“I will never get used to hearing anything of that sort,” she recalls to Billboard, adding that it’s what she has dreamed of since childhood. “This is genuinely everything I have ever wanted my entire life. It feels truly like I am living in a dream.”
And, that dream continues with her selection by country radio programmers as one of the top five new acts of the year, which gives her a coveted spot on the New Faces Show, which closes out the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville this Wednesday night. She says the role that the PDs and MDs play in any performer’s career can’t be underestimated.
“As artists, we can’t do what we do without Country Radio,” she explains. “I left high school to sing at Dollywood [she was home-schooled while working at the theme park], so I feel like I am now up for homecoming queen — which I never got to be up for. I feel both honored and humbled that they would think of me as one of the five [artists] for this.”
Just like with any newcomer, Pearce went out and met the taste-makers that control the music that is heard on the airwaves. She said it’s an experience like no other. “You live such a weird life while you’re out on the tour. You’re in a van or an airplane more than you are anything else. You’re getting a crash course in how to make an impression in just a few minutes to the people who will decide whether your music makes it onto the air. It was an awesome experience. I met so many people that I consider friends now.”
One of the highlights of the tour was simply getting to see the United States — something she had never gotten to witness previously outside of her native Appalachia. “I got to see all of the west coast, which is so beautiful and so different from Kentucky,” she says. “I also got to see a lot of the northeast during the snowy season. I had never experienced anything like that or temperatures like that. In 2017, I saw 47 states.”
One of the greatest parts of her success has been getting to share it with her parents, who she says gave so much for their daughter: “Everyone knows my parents were crazy enough to let me quit high school so I could sing. I never knew my dad was a crier, but I have found out that he totally is. He cries all the time when he tries to tell me how he feels about everything. My mom moved away with me after I went to work at Dollywood full-time, and took me to the gigs and these different places. She’ll send me a message just saying ‘We did it. We did it.’ That’s just a really awesome thing, and means so much.”
Pearce — who will be out on the road this year in separate stints with Blake Shelton, Rascal Flatts, Luke Bryan and Thomas Rhett — is back at radio with her second single, the fiery and seductive “Hide The Wine,” which gives her a chance to show another side of her personality.
“I’m so excited to be happy on the radio,” she raves. “I am a very happy person. I really love red wine, and so many people know that about me. The song is just a complete 360 degrees from ‘Every Little Thing,’ which is what people know from me so far. I think that is so exciting and awesome. I want to show off my fun, flirty, and sexy side. I feel that this year is really going to be my chance to take the extra step to make sure that the next chapter is where people really get to know me and my music past just the first single.”