It’s only country singer Carly Pearce’s third time in New York City. “What I want to do is go to Central Park,” the 27-year-old Kentucky native tells The Post. “I would love to be able to do that, but I’m not sure it’s gonna happen.”
That’s because Pearce is too busy to sightsee. She kicked off this week performing her hit ballad “Every Little Thing” on the “Today” show, and made the rounds on entertainment shows and radio stations to promote her album of the same name, which dropped Oct. 13.
“I’ve actually been surprised at the country fans up here and their awareness of my songs,” she says. “I had girls singing every word to my album cuts. That was really, really cool.”
Her schedule isn’t going to slow down any time soon: “Every Little Thing” is now No. 7 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, and she’s the only solo female artist in the top 10.
Everyone’s expecting big things. When Pearce was signed in January by Big Machine Label Group, which handles such talents as Tim McGraw, Steven Tyler and Taylor Swift, president Scott Borchetta was quoted as saying she could be “the most important female artist we’ve signed since Taylor.”
Pearce’s response is measured. “I have not met Taylor,” she says. “I, of course, think that she is another person from my generation who will go down in history [as] influencing and changing the world of music and being an icon.”
It’s that cool, confident nature, along with single-minded grit, that’s earned Pearce her current success.
She describes herself as “stubborn” and says she “never dreamt of the wedding dress, the house and the family.” Rather, “I dreamt of stages and the Opry and touring and making an album.”
The daughter of a cosmetologist mom and father in sales, she started performing early, singing in talent shows at 8 and fronting a bluegrass band at 11. In high school, she quit cheerleading to focus on music, and even that wasn’t enough: At 16, she persuaded her family to let her quit school and move closer to the theme park Dollywood, in Tennessee. There, she performed in as many as six variety shows each day and met Dolly Parton herself. “She’s such a positive, happy, friendly, sweet person,” Pearce says. “Every day I went to work and was living in a fairy land. It was so not real life.”
She got a reality check at 19, when she moved to Nashville, Tenn., on her own, hoping to make it big. To make ends meet, she held a series of odd jobs. “I worked at a mall, I cleaned Airbnbs,” she says. “I learned humility — and that you’re never guaranteed anything.”
Working as a cleaner was particularly humbling. “People are nasty,” she says. “I’m not a big fan of people’s hair, and I had to clean sheets with hair on them, toilets, you name it. Nashville’s a very big hub of bachelor and bachelorette parties, so you do the math on that one.”
“I had people in the industry pass on ‘Every Little Thing’ months before it came out and say that very thing,” she says. “I had people telling me I was ‘too country.’ And I was like, ‘But I moved to Nashville to play country music.’”Sticking to her guns has paid off. After hustling eight years to have her voice heard, she’s fully committed to her signature soulful sound and doesn’t feel that her success is arriving a minute too late.
“The women I idolize — Trisha Yearwood, Faith Hill, Shania Twain — all had their first singles at my age or a little older than me,” she says. “I think that women need to embrace their age, and why I’m really connecting and standing out is because I’m not 21, I’m not 22. I have had my heart broken, I have lived some life, I have messed up, I have drank too much.”
So saying, her album may surprise country fans looking for a sugary Southern sweetheart.
In the jaunty track “Doin’ it Right,” Pearce compares the way a guy sees love to “a s - - tty little motel.” “You don’t hear very many women in country — until Maren [Morris]— cuss,” she says.
But even her swearing is strategic: “If there are lots of little girls in the audience, I say ‘cheap little’ because I get too scared,” she admits. “Every time I say ‘s - - tty’ [people are] kind of like, ‘Ooh!’ But that’s genuine to who I am. I’m from Kentucky, and there’s a little bit of that fiery redneck in me!”