by Kirsten Akens
Kentucky native Carly Pearce may be new to the world of dropping albums and climbing the country music charts, but the 27-year-old singer-songwriter isn’t new to music as a life path. At 11, she fronted a touring bluegrass band, and by 16, she was performing multiple times a day for visitors to Dollywood.
“I have always wanted to do this. For me, I never dreamt, as a child, I never dreamt of a wedding or having children or anything like that,” she says. “There’s nothing wrong with that, but my dreams truly were about making country music.”
When her debut album Every Little Thing dropped on Oct. 13, Pearce had already earned her first Top 10 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart with her same-named release — an accomplishment only reached by three other solo women so far in 2017: Lauren Alaina, Kelsea Ballerini, and Carrie Underwood.
The song tackles themes familiar to country music: love and loss. “I wrote this song about a guy who really broke my heart. It’s a true story just about loss and I think that if people have experienced that then they know how difficult that can be, and the battle you have within yourself with wanting to let them go in your mind but not being ready to in your heart.”
She laughs when asked about the attention the song has received. “I am very happy with it. I would say I have not spoken to this person in many years but I would tell him thank you for that help.”
Pearce can been heard on tour with the whole album across the country this fall, and she says she loves the many varied experiences of traveling as a musician, in particular the perk of getting to see a different city or part of the country every day.
“Obviously it’s not as glamorous at times as people would think, with so many airports and van rides, and weird places that you have to take a shower, but I never get bored,” she says.
There are other challenges to traveling, too, she adds, like eating healthy, finding somewhere to workout, and keeping Mother Nature in mind.
“My tour manager gets mad at me because I’m really bad about thinking that the high temperature in every city is going to be what it’s going to be every hour that we’re there, and not colder, so I try to bring a lot of different options just because you never know what kind of weather you’re going to have.”
And then there’s just plain out being a woman. “I always bring a teasing comb, because I worked at Dollywood and I know about big hair. … and I think just as a female artist, finding time to get ready is a lot harder for us than it is for the male artists that can just put a hat on and still look like an artist.”
If there’s one thing (or creature, rather) that Pearce misses when on the road, it’s her cat Emmylou — “named for Emmylou Harris. … of course.”
“It’s so hard. I’m such an animal person and obviously I cannot take her on the road, and I don’t think that she would want to go. My parents take care of her and she does just fine, but it is kind of sad, and gets lonely and I always say I wish there was Uber for pets, or Rent-a-Dog or Cat to be in my hotel room at every city I’m at.”
Maybe someone should get moving on that concept, because it’s unlikely the focused musician will be staying home as much in the near future. Her work has paid off just in the past few weeks with a return performance at the Grand Old Opry and accolades from People as “The New Voice of Country” on the magazine’s “Ones to Watch 2017” list.
“Obviously my story is about being an artist and being a singer,” Pearce says, “but I think that the universal message for anybody is if you work hard enough and you continue to try to better yourself in whatever aspect and always try to stay 100 percent true to you and the truth that is in your heart, then I think that you can do anything.”
Kirsten Akens is a freelance writer, traveler, and restorative yoga evangelist. She’s a lover of books, Boston terriers, blogging, (cowboy) boots, Browncoats & baked goods. And she has an unnatural affection for alliteration. Follow Kirsten @kirstenakens on Twitter.