Carly Pearce: Country Music’s “Next Girl”

Photo by Ann Allister
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As seen in
Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 16 – Summer 2021
Acoustic Amplified!

Carly Pearce is a classic country Kentucky native turned Nashville starlet. With credentials such as number-one singles “I Hope You’re Happy Now” (RIAA Certified Gold®) and “Every Little Thing” (RIAA Certified Platinum®), several highly esteemed country music awards, and having shared the stage with incredible acts like Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Thomas Rhett, and Jason Aldean, Pearce is a strong female presence to be reckoned with.

Only adding to her excellence, she is the third woman in country music in the past 15 years to have her debut single reach number one on the charts, which is an impressive feat that truly showcases her drive and passion for her craft.

Pearce recently released her brand-new EP, 29, and her current single, “Next Girl,” is creating even more praise for the brilliant songstress. The single has been nominated for Best Female Video of the Year at the 2021 CMT Music Awards.

To top off her prosperous last year in the country music awards scene, most recently, Pearce won the ACM® awards for Single of the Year and Music Event of the Year for “I Hope You’re Happy Now” alongside figurehead singer-songwriter Lee Brice. She even performed the single with Lee Brice at the ACM Awards® Show.

First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to be the ACM Award winner for Music Event of the Year AND the 2020 CMA Award winner for Musical Event of the Year, and also the ACM Award winner for Single of the Year?

When I look back at the beginning of 2020, I was in such a low place in my life, but throughout it all, country music had my back. Being able to receive those awards is a childhood dream of mine, and I honestly can’t believe it’s even real. It’s all just been so surreal, and I couldn’t be more grateful to be able to share my music and have such a warm, beautiful reception from everyone.

Photo by A. Campbell

Tell us a little bit more of the backstory on 29. What is the true meaning of the collection to you?

For this project, I knew going into it that I wanted to share my experience of healing within this past year. I’ve always turned to music as a source of strength in the bad times, and being able to write these songs as an outlet during this stage of my life was extremely therapeutic for me. I feel very proud to have put together a collection of such vulnerable songs, because that’s what country music is all about.

How are you feeling about the massive success of your current single, “Next Girl”?

We wrote and produced “Next Girl” early on in the pandemic, and it all came together in less than an hour. When we finished the song, I knew instantly that it was going to be the single. No matter what song it is, I always write what feels authentic to me and my story, with the hopes that someone else has been through a similar experience before as well. I’ve had moms tell me that they are going to play this song for their daughters when they start dating, and then I’ve had divorced women who ask me where the song was five years ago. It’s been so fun for me to hear how people take my songs and relate them to their own lives; I love hearing their stories.

We are Guitar Girl Magazine, so we have to ask, what kind of guitar do you play and why? Do you have a favorite guitar in your arsenal?

My Martin guitar is a personal favorite of mine. I use it a lot when I’m writing songs and working on music in general. I’m also a big fan of Gibson guitars; in fact, if you look closely in the “Next Girl” music video, you’ll see one of the Gibson models that I love.

Being a female in the country music world can be incredibly hard. Could you share with us your experience as a woman in the industry and what you have done to break down those barriers?

The women of ’90s country have always been my biggest inspiration. They brought a flavor to the genre that had never been done before, and they really made that era of country special. I remember feeling so connected to the stories that Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Trisha Yearwood, and so many other women told in their songs, and I wanted to share that same connection with my listeners. I think that women bring a vulnerability and authenticity to their songwriting that people are drawn to, and thanks to country music fans streaming female artists and requesting their songs on radio, we’re beginning to see more recognition for women in the genre.

What do you hope your fans/listeners take away with them when they listen to your music?

Music has helped me through some of the best and worst moments of my life, and there are so many songs that really define different chapters of my life. There have been moments where I was in a dark place or felt very discouraged, and I listened to or wrote a song, and it was very therapeutic for me. I think that music has so much power, and my hope is that my listeners feel that same connection and feel that sense of happiness when they listen to my music.

Can you tell us a little more about what’s next to come for you as an artist?

I just released my 29 collection, which I am so proud of. It’s my most vulnerable work yet, and I’ve received so many positive messages from listeners saying that it helped them through a difficult journey in their lives. I’m also beginning to work on a new project that I’m so excited about, and hopefully, I’ll be able to get back on the road again and safely perform some time this year. So, there’s a lot to look forward to in the coming year.

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