For Carly Pearce, “Every Little Thing” has turned into a pretty big deal.
The Northern Kentucky native began a gradual but assured assault on country radio last spring with the breakup ballad “Every Little Thing,” a pensive song that showcases a hushed, glowing vocal presence. Now, with summer over and the song entering the top 10 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, Pearce is preparing for the release of her debut album, also called “Every Little Thing,” Oct. 13. Pearce, who performed in September at Red, White and Boom, said it’s an even bigger deal.
“I moved to Nashville eight years ago. I’ve had a lot of opportunities before that, for whatever reason, didn’t work out the way that I thought they should have, so I am so thankful to have this opportunity.
“I didn’t sign a record deal just to have a record deal. I signed a record deal because I knew I would have a team behind me that is passionate about who I was as an artist and the role I was carving out. I made this album, from the songs to the production, exactly the way I wanted to.”
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I don’t know if you’re going to find someone who is more proud to be from Kentucky than me.
An Indiana native, Pearce grew up Taylor Mill, the Kenton County town near the northernmost point of the state. Most Kentucky-reared country stars hail from the east, so where did she find inspiration when her backyard was, essentially, Cincinnati?
“I had really good schools that let me do talent shows,” she said. “I performed in a bluegrass band and played all over Northern Kentucky and, honestly, throughout all of Kentucky for quite a few years. I played down in Covington for open-mic nights, bluegrass nights and all different types of things. The only thing I did that was outside of country music was getting cast in a musical theater production of ‘The 1940s Radio Hour’ when I was 13. Everyone else was in their 20s and 30s, so I did that in Cincinnati just to find a way to perform. But I’ve always been country, country, country.
“I just tried to make as many opportunities for myself while I was in Taylor Mill. Then, when I was 16, I was out of there.”
Don’t think that she looks down on her home state. A close-up in the video for “Every Little Thing” reveals the outline of Kentucky tattooed on her wrist.
“I’m very, very, very proud of where I’m from. If anybody has seen the album cover to ‘Every Little Thing,’ it just looks Kentucky. I wanted a front porch feel that went back to my roots, to where it all started. I don’t know if you’re going to find someone who is more proud to be from Kentucky than me. I feel like it made me 100 percent who I am as a person and as an artist.”
Drawing inspiration from a slew of female artists including Shania Twain, Trisha Yearwood, Alison Krauss and Dixie Chicks, Pearce is one of only two solo female performers currently with a Top 20 country entry on the Billboard chart. Fellow Red, White and Boom artist Maren Morris is the other.
We have a lot of amazing female artists that are coming through and, finally, I feel like radio is listening to them and giving them a shot.
“I think people like Maren are true artists and true songwriters,” Pearce said. “They have something to say. I hope when people listen to my music, they identify with me being one of those people as well. We have a lot of amazing female artists that are coming through and, finally, I feel like radio is listening to them and giving them a shot. I feel they are understanding that women do want to hear women. Frankly, I think men want to hear women, too. Just from what I’ve heard about ‘Every Little Thing,’ it’s not just women talking to me and giving me a response. It’s men as well.”
Her Red, White & Boom appearance constituted a homecoming of sorts. she had never performed at the festival before, she proudly admitted to being a longtime fan and patron.
“I never missed Red, White & Boom growing up. I would always come to Lexington for it. I distinctly remember my friend Hunter Hayes playing it for the first time. I drove up with him because I just wanted to go and experience Red, White & Boom and dream one day of maybe doing it myself. So I couldn’t be more excited to play there.”
Editor's Note: This story was originally published to preview Carly Pearce's Red, White & Boom appearance Sept. 3. It has been altered from its original version.