From ‘Cleaning Toilets’ to the Number-1 Song in America (The Inspiring Story of How This Singer Persevered and Found Success)

From ‘Cleaning Toilets’ to the No. 1 Song in America (the Inspiring Story of How This Singer Persevered and Found Success) Even if you don’t think you like this kind of music, I think you’re going to like this story.  


By Bill Murphy Jr. 


Every once in a while, I need a little reminder about my place in the world. Actually, two little reminders. 

Reminder #1: The world is ultimately what you make it.

You can’t control the circumstances into which you’re born, but you can control the choices you make, and how determined you are to reach your goals.

Reminder #2: On the route to wherever you’re going, no job is beneath you.

And if you’re serious about achieving your dreams, you’ll probably find yourself tested on this point.

Today’s reminders came courtesy of Carly Pearce, a Kentucky-born country singer whose debut single, Every Little Thing, hit number-1 on the U.S. Country Airplay chart last year.

(She wrote the song in just 45 minutes, Pearce told country music site The Boot. It’s “about a guy who really, really broke my heart a few years ago.”)

I live and work in the New York City area; country just is not as big a thing up here. But this is a really good song (embedded below).

More than that, I’m drawn to a key aspect of Pearce’s personal story.

The road to her current success was nine years long, she explained recently, starting at the age of 16, with when she convinced her parents to let her leave high school, move to Nashville, and take a job at Dollywood so she could pursue her dream of making music.

Along the way, she “took any odd job she could get to pay her bills,” according to Fox News. And then here’s the money quote:

“I think the nastiest, worst job I ever had was cleaning Airbnbs. You’re cleaning toilets and cleaning bed sheets, and it’s not glamorous, but I did it…so that I could still pursue music and write songs and play gigs, but it was nasty!”

“Cleaning toilets,” that’s what jumped out at me. There’s dignity in almost all work, but a lot of people who found themselves doing that kind of work to support a dream might be very tempted to give up on the dream.

And yes, at age 27, Pearce said she’d started to hear “the clock ticking and get scared.” She began to worry that she might never see her career reach the heights to which she aspired.

“But… even though I struggled so much in Nashville over the last nine years,” she said, “there were always moments… that even if it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, it was validation that I was walking in the right direction or that I was meant to be in Nashville.”

Setting aside my, um, slightly older reaction to the idea that a 27-year-old might fear she was too getting old to have a shot at success, it’s inspiring to see someone in any field achieve her dreams.

“This is genuinely everything I have ever wanted my entire life,” she told Billboard in a separate recent interview. “It feels truly like I am living in a dream.”

Here’s the song that propelled Pearce up the charts, “Every Little Thing.” (Her follow-up, Hide the Wine, is now at #42 on the country chart.)


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