Carly Pearce is the cool girl making country music hot again
For every decade, country music churns out an “it” girl who defines the sound. Over the past 10 years, the genre’s been the go-to formula for sweethearts who want to break into the mainstream (e.g. Taylor Swift) or do a make-under for their public image (e.g. Miley Cyrus).
However, singer-songwriter Carly Pearce is not just another budding sweetheart in the making.
Unlike her predecessors, Pearce is like your cool older cousin who takes you out to hike in the day, blasts The Collection, and knocks back two glasses of red wine at night. While you may have seen her at Stagecoach or listened to her hit single, “Hide the Wine,” on the radio, you can’t help but to be mesmerized by her fun-loving and charming personality.
In fact, Pearce broke the charts by being the third female to have a #1 debut single for her song, “Every Little Thing,” as a solo artist on a male-dominated country radio. If you haven’t heard of her, just know that she is not here to play.
We sit down with Carly to chat about her never-ending hustle, linking up with Lucy Hale, and the one unlikely musical shero she looks up to (spoiler alert: it’s your favorite ’90s platinum blonde ska kween).
You started out by performing at Dollywood after dropping out of high school at 16, then you moved to Nashville when you were 19. What brought you to pursue a music career while you were in high school?
All I have ever wanted to do was sing country music, so it was always my goal to figure out how to make that happen. When I found the Dollywood opportunity, I knew I could bring it to my parents as a valuable option since it was a paid job.
Since you grew up in Kentucky, when were you first introduced to country music? Compared to all other genres, why did you choose country to pursue?
My mom says the only thing that would keep me from crying as a baby was country music, so I think it was always in my blood. My grandparents loved country and bluegrass music, so I was exposed to artists like Dolly, Loretta [Lynn], Flatt & Scruggs and Emmylou Harris as a young girl.
Although country runs in your musical roots, what surprises me is that you count Gwen Stefani as one of your idols (note: I can sense some “Don’t Speak” era Gwen in “Every Little Thing”). How does she inspire you?
Gwen is such an artist! She has always unapologetically been who she is and I think she paved the way for so many female artists. She’s always pushed the envelope and is willing to put herself out there for her art, all while writing amazing songs. I love her!
Country is now one of the most popular genres that’s influencing pop music whether it be from Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus and now, Justin Timberlake. What are your thoughts on pop stars who cross over to country?
I think all artists, no matter what genre, can appreciate the truth and honesty of country music. It’s real, raw, and authentic, so I think as artists in other genres grow in their careers, they want to explore it.
What I love about you is that you make the vibe of each song feel different. For instance, you’re the sad chick on “Every Little Thing,” but in “Hide the Wine,” you’re all flirty and fun. What’s your secret to setting the mood? If you have to pick a song, which one do you prefer?
I love them both! I am a woman in my 20s, which means I have a lot to say. We all have different shades to our personality and different moods and I want to share each of those.
Prior to breaking the charts with “Every Little Thing,” you struggled through a record deal that fell under and you previously mentioned that you cleaned Air BnBs just to support your hustle. While going between job to job, what was the one experience that pushed you to continue your dream?
As weird as it sounds, all I’ve ever wanted is to do this. That’s what drove me to hang in there. I believe I was put on this earth to make country music.
Sisterhood is such a big part of your career – especially since Lucy Hale and Kelsea Ballerini have helped you open doors. What did you learn about yourself when you worked with them and how did they advise you?
I have learned so much from Kelsea and Lucy. In a way, they’ve both helped me fall back in love with music at a time when I was struggling. Lucy took me under her wing and exposed my music to her fans and Kelsea took me as her opening act when I had nothing going on. They’re both amazing inspirations and examples of strong business women, humble hearts and super talents.
Given that you’ve been on a tour bus with them, which movie/TV show would you Netflix and chill to if all of you are in a foreign country?
“This is us.”
If you are to travel outside the states (whether it be for vacation or tour), what are the top three items from your closet that you need to have in your suitcase?
I’d have to have my running shoes, my cell phone, and Orbit gum! I’m addicted.
Now that you broke the charts, scored a record deal with Big Machine, and have a debut album, what can we anticipate for your tour?
I hope people get to know me more as Carly Pearce and not “the girl that sings ‘Every Little Thing.'” I want to have a career as successful and impactful as Dolly, Faith [Hill], Reba [MacEntire] and Trisha [Yearwood]. I hope one day, fans will just know me as “Carly.”