To say country music superstar Carly Pearce has faced a few challenges in the last year and a half is an understatement. At the end of 2019, she unexpectedly lost her beloved producer, busbee, to an aggressive form of brain cancer, leaving her in professional limbo. Not long after, amidst the pandemic, she got married and subsequently divorced from artist Michael Ray. But like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Carly’s grief and vulnerability are propelling her to the next level of her career. Coming on the heels of two No. 1 hits, “Every Little Thing” and “I Hope You’re Happy Now” (a duet with singer Lee Brice), last week’s release of her new seven-song music collection, 29, offers a more intimate view of Carly’s personal struggles — she’s laying it all out there, candidly opening up about love, loss and her personal healing journey. Please welcome chart-topping artist Carly Pearce, and be sure to check out an exclusive performance from Carly this Wednesday, February 24, at 4 p.m. CST, on the official StyleBlueprint Instagram page!

Black and white photo of Carly Pearce from her new music collection, 29

Please welcome country artist Carly Pearce. Image: Alexa Campbell

What was the pivotal moment when you knew you’d officially made it in country music, and what did you do to celebrate?

There are so many parts of me that feel like I haven’t made it yet! Getting my first No. 1 felt really good, but there was something about winning that CMA award in November. Being able to celebrate that with my friends and family was so special. We couldn’t really celebrate [in person] because of COVID, but there were many tears. It will definitely be a special thing for me to show them when I do see them.

Tell us about the inspiration behind your newly released music collection, 29.

I’ve had kind of a crazy last 18 months with the loss of my producer, busbee, to glioblastoma brain cancer. Then personally, I’ve been going through heartbreak. This collection of music is for anyone who’s on a journey, which I feel like we all are. Even though this is my personal story of what has happened, I think that anyone who’s struggling in their life, or with heartbreak or in loss, will be able to find something through this. Hopefully, they’ll see that you can come out better on the other side.

RELATED: Why Nashville Needs Mickey Guyton

Carly Pearce, writing music

During the pandemic, writing music gave Carly an outlet for her recent personal strife and resulted in her newest compilation, which was released on February 19, 2021. Image: Alexa Campbell

As you mentioned earlier, you’ve experienced a lot of recent personal turbulence, which is reflected in 29. How does it feel to put yourself out there in such a vulnerable way, and what is the response so far?

Even when I came onto the country music scene with my debut single, “Every Little Thing,” I was almost immediately “the girl who’s vulnerable and honest and lays it all out.” This is really no different. Maybe people have speculations about what my music is about at this point, but it’s still just me speaking the truth of what has happened in my life and trying to emote. This collection of music is even deeper than I ever thought I could possibly go in music. Fans have seen that layer come off me through social media and this process, and I think it has made me more relatable. I feel like fans are really close to me, which I love.

In your song “Messy,” you sing about moving on from heartbreak and giving yourself grace. What are you doing to find balance and give yourself grace during such an emotional roller coaster?

I drink lots of wine! I’ve leaned really hard on my friends, and I have an amazing band. They are so good to me, and they were with me as this whole process was starting. I’m very strong in my faith, and I’ve leaned very heavily on that. Also, as the song says, it’s about accepting the roller coaster ride that we’re sometimes on and being good to myself in that process — letting myself feel those things. I think it’s important to do that.

Despite all of the challenges, what was the best thing to come out of the past year?

I’ve gotten a lot stronger, and I’ve been given the blessing of being able to process and grieve and heal on my own — not in front of a spotlight or a microphone. Also, the professional side of things has really blossomed for me. “I Hope You’re Happy Now” gave me the gift of confidence to step into this new music and new journey without busbee. Country music fans just really blew my mind with that song, and it was such a perfect time for me to feel so much love.

Carly Pearce sitting in a chair, looking off to the side

“Show Me Around,” one of the seven songs on her new album, is a heartfelt and moving tribute to Carly’s producer, busbee, who passed away in late 2019. Image: Alexa Campbell

If you could collaborate with anyone in music, who would it be?

Oh gosh, Dolly! She’s the queen!

You champion a lot of your female peers and up-and-coming country artists, so who should we keep an eye out for?

Ooh, I love this question. Do you know who I just discovered recently? Her name is Tiera — she’s a brand new artist, and I love her. I think she’s so great, and I’m a huge fan. I love Hailey Whitters. I love Hannah Ellis. Those are three [artists] you should look for.

RELATED: Meet Country Music’s Newest Rising Star

Black and white photo of Carly Pearce half in shadows

Reflecting on her personal struggles over the past year, Carly has found solace in her family, friends, music, and her new Shih Tzu puppy named June. Image: Alexa Campbell

What’s next for you?

I feel like I’ve already written the next collection of music! I feel very inspired to write, and until we can get back out on the road, I’ll continue to try to make the best music that I can. The last year and this process have shown me that you have to make great music. Some of the songs that I’ve had out have set the bar, and I want to continue to beat it.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

My mom said, “Never change who you are, and always remain true to that.”

Aside from faith, family and friends, what are three things you cannot live without?

Wine, my music, and my dog.

Thank you for the interview, Carly. We can’t wait to hear you play on your exclusive StyleBlueprint performance on StyleBlueprint’s Official Instagram page this Wednesday, February 24!

**********

Read more interviews with our inspirational FACES in our archives!