June is packed with great music at Raleigh venues large and small (see calendar next page). We spoke with country singer Carly Pearce, who plays with Rascal Flatts and Dan and Shay at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek June 16th.
In a word, Carly Pearce is grateful.
She’s grateful she could take a devastating time in her life and create the haunting, beautiful song “Every Little Thing.” She’s grateful she can commiserate with fans about misadventures in navigating exes with her fun, sassy new single “Hide the Wine.” But, most of all, she’s grateful that, after a lifetime of work and fighting for her dream, she’s living the surreal “tornado” of chart topping, awards-nominated success.
Raised in Kentucky, Pearce says country music was always her passion. “Always,” she says. “It may sound cliché, but it really is truth that it’s all I’ve ever known.”
At 16, Pearce asked her parents if she could drop out of high school to join a Dollywood country music show. “I’m an only child and my dad said, ‘absolutely not,’” Pearce laughs. She persuaded them to let her audition. With a job offer and a home-school plan which would set her on a path to college—a bit of a ruse—her parents acquiesced.
“I knew I didn’t want to go to college,” she says. “I wanted to go to Nashville.”
At Dollywood, Pearce’s dreams and work ethic grew; the six-show-a-day, five-day-a-week schedule prepared her for the next step in her career.
“I feel like I was at war with Nashville for nine years,” Pearce says, reflecting on her time beating down doors for auditions. “I’ve been very honest…about how hard it was for me, how many people told me no, how many times I was told to move home, that it would never happen.”
Pearce uses that experience to remind her fans that they must be the biggest advocates for their own dreams. “If you believe in something and you keep working and you won’t take no for an answer, no matter what it is, it really can happen.”
Pearce says it took a while for the “I made it” moment to sink in, admitting she didn’t feel it the first time she played the Grand Ole Opry, or after she made her first album, or first heard her song on the radio, or when it went to No. 1, or when she appeared on TV or was nominated for awards. But she felt it recently, on tour with Blake Shelton
“We sang [his duet with Ashley Monroe] “Lonely Tonight,” she says. “There was this moment, the first night of his tour, we were singing in the arena and I’m looking into Blake Shelton’s eyes and, honest to God, that may have been when I realized [all that’s happened]. I’m staring into Blake Shelton’s eyes, singing, and I’m like, ‘oh my gosh, I’ve done it.’ It was a very weird moment for me.”
Pearce’s debut album Every Little Thing is out now.