Carly Pearce is in country music for the long haul — and for the right reasons. The rising star says she's already planning out the next chapter of her quickly budding, and hopefully long-lasting, career.

Pearce has come a long way from her beginnings: Raised in Kentucky and a former singer in a bluegrass band, Pearce shot to stardom in mainstream country music with her debut single, "Every Little Thing," in 2017. She released an album of the same name in February of that year and, since then, has joined Blake Shelton on his Country Music Freaks tour, opened for Luke Bryan on tour, played the Grand Ole Opry dozens of times, fallen in love with fellow country artist Michael Ray and started working on her second album -- all at the ripe age of 28.

With Every Little Thing, Pearce wasn't sure how, exactly, she and her music would be received in the country world. Now that she's built a foundation and a fanbase, however, she can move forward with her creative side in a more visible and personal way.

"Now, it’s like I can almost color a little bit more out of the lines and can maybe put a couple songs on the album that aren’t radio songs, but fans will know exactly why I wrote that song and know my truth," Pearce recently told The Boot. "I feel like I’ve made my splash into country music in a way that fans want to know the next chapter."

Pearce recently released her latest single, "Closer to You," and as 2018 winds down, she's slotted to perform from a float at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and plans to go on vacation with her family in December. She just announced a co-headlining tour with fellow up-and-comer Russell Dickerson and will be continuing her work on her new music. Based on her new single, Pearce is evolving her Kentucky-bred, rootsy sound into an R&B-country hybrid that's pop-friendly while still soulful and fun-loving. With her sophomore album, Pearce says she wants to "show more of the real me."

"I feel like [fans are] starting to know Carly Pearce, but you may have to say ‘the girl who sings "Every Little Thing"' or ‘the girl who sings "Hide the Wine"' [still]," she reflects. "I want, in the way that when you hear the word 'Reba' or you hear the word 'Dolly' or you hear the word 'Faith', you know who that is. I want, when you hear 'Carly' to go, 'She’s a female country singer.'"

Pearce's love for country classics has set a precedent for how she wants to proceed with her career. She's looking to iconic artists such as Faith Hill, as well as Kentucky heroes such as Loretta Lynn and the Judds, as both inspirations and aspirations. Pearce is a strong female force on the radio, and is determined to only go up from here. She doesn't want to just make radio singles -- she makes it clear that she's in this game to influence the genre.

"I love the word 'legacy,'" Pearce says. "This is my heart. This is everything to me, and I hope that, in 40 years, we’re still sitting here, and I’m still telling you about my new album and can just look back and see the impact that I had on country music."

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