Carly Pearce Remains Driven to Succeed With Debut Single ‘Blame the Whiskey’
Should Carly Pearce ever need a little motivation, all she needs to do is look down at her wrist.
"I have a tattoo on my wrist ... and it says, 'She believed she could, so she did,'" Pearce says. "I feel like that's kind of me at the moment."
The almost-25-year-old moved to Nashville at 18, after fronting a bluegrass band as a child and performing at Dollywood and the Country Tonight Theatre, both in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., as a teenager. She's currently one of Lucy Hale's back-up singers and has toured with acts such as Hunter Hayes, Cole Swindell and Florida Georgia Line, but with the release of her own debut single, "Blame the Whiskey," Pearce is really looking to make a name for herself in 2015.
"I've had a crazy journey here in town ... I moved here saying, 'All I want is a record deal.' Now I feel like ... I don't know that that's first on my to-do list," says Pearce, who had a major-label deal that fell apart before she could release any music. "If a label comes along, that's awesome, but I'm going to keep rolling and keep the train going ... and that was never my plan. I didn't know you could do it that way really."
If Pearce's younger years are any indication, she has the drive and spunk an independent artist needs. Rather than getting involved in after-school activities with her classmates, the Kentucky native started fronting a bluegrass band at age 11, touring with her older band members on weekends.
"I was just this kid that, instead of being on the cheerleading squad or going to the football games or school dances and things, I was riding around in a van, going to all of these bluegrass festivals and churches and fairs and all kinds of stuff as a kid," Pearce says, "so I've just always done music my whole life."
On the last day of her freshman year of high school, Pearce says that she came home and told her parents she wasn't going back; rather than dismiss the idea, Pearce's parents agreed to her plan for home-schooling, which gave her the opportunity to hone her musical skills in between learning. Then, Pearce auditioned for Dollywood -- and got a role.
"It was so fun, gave me great training, and I got to hone my voice and [learn about] taking care of it, and also really got to see what it would be like to be working full time at such an early age," Pearce says. "I had just gotten my driver's license the first week of rehearsals, so I was pretty excited, and everybody was kind of in their 20s and finishing college, so that was also a good thing for me, for my maturity level, just being around older people."
Pearce co-wrote "Blame the Whiskey," which she says "just came from a really honest place." But with a chorus that finds Pearce wondering "Are you gonna blame the whiskey tomorrow / As soon as that somthin' you're sippin' wears off? / Are you the permanent high I've been missin' / Or am I just kissin' a boy with a buzz?" she notes that some might consider the tune "a pretty bold statement for a female."
"I feel like there's really a void for females in my age group ... that are just figuring it out and kind of in this weird stage of life of the limbo of figuring out who you are," Pearce says. "That's kind of what my songs are about and my writing, and I think as I release more music, people will see I'm just the 20-something that's speaking to the people that are trying to figure it out."
I refuse to give up ... I feel like finally things are starting to turn around because I just never ceased to believe that this isn't supposed to be what I'm doing.
When she's been writing songs, planning the release of an EP and working to further her solo career, Pearce has also been learning "vital information as far as road life, radio, the fans, songs" from her time with Hale and the other artists with whom she's toured.
"I get to soak in so much. I'm just a sponge all the time," she says. "I don't think that you can be taught these things without experiencing them, and for some reason, God has given me the opportunity to just -- it's not been my time yet, but I've gotten to be right there for it."
And Pearce has been seeing her number of social media followers increase and her own fan base grow thanks to the exposure and the friendships she's formed with her tourmates.
"[I think fans] buy into me because they're getting to watch it grow, and I feel like they realize that they have such a big part in what is happening for me that they almost are more invested because they are making it happen and watching it happen," she says, "which is kind of fun.
"These people I've become really good friends with have really helped me. We all kind of moved here together, and we all run in the same crowds and were hanging out at the same writers rounds and showcases and stuff, and it's awesome to have those people," Pearce adds of famous friends like Hale, Swindell and others. "It's been nice to see that you have true friends that really are supporters and fans and want to help."
While some might get discouraged seeing peers and friends experience success without yet experiencing it themselves, Pearce remains motivated and driven.
"I refuse to give up," she says. "I've been here for six years, and I feel like finally things are starting to turn around because I just never ceased to believe that this isn't supposed to be what I'm doing."
"Blame the Whiskey" is available for download via iTunes. Press play on the video below to watch Pearce perform an acoustic version of the song.
Listen to Carly Pearce, "Blame the Whiskey (Acoustic)":
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