Carly Pearce

Carly Pearce puts her life on display within the lyrics of her songs and 2020 was no different. The singer continues to share her emotions with listeners on fifth single “Next Girl,” currently No. 34 and climbing on the Mediabase country chart.

“It's no secret that I've had the worst yet best year ever,” Pearce tells Country Insider. “Anything that I'm releasing right now is obviously reflective of that … It's different when everyone watched a relationship fail in front of their eyes and now want to feel like they know everything about the songs you're putting out.”

Pearce had a public breakup with fellow country singer Michael Ray in June after eight months of marriage. She says she had to make a decision when she created new music if she was “going to go there” or not.

“I'm the type of artist that I don't know how to not write what I go through, regardless of if that's about somebody that everyone knows or not,” she says. “Not to say that every single song I'm putting out is about this person or this relationship: It's about relationships in general. But I had to make the decision and I don't know how to not do that.”

Pearce’s first single since her divorce is “Next Girl,” a song that radio has embraced. (It was country radio’s most-added song, with 47 Mediabase reporting stations, the week of its release in September.) Pearce says she’s very involved when it comes to promoting songs to radio and decided to do a virtual radio tour ahead of the song’s add date.

“I made the decision when I was launching ‘Next Girl’ that I wanted to do a complete radio tour. I did Zoom calls with every individual station,” she says. “I genuinely enjoy these people that I've made relationships with and that have helped change my life … I feel so grateful that radio wants me to win.”

Pearce says a lesson she learned from her first radio tour was to be authentic. It’s something she carries with her and she aims to remain the same girl that she’s been since her first radio tour supporting debut single, “Every Little Thing.”

The singer-songwriter is closing out 2020 as a first-time CMA Award winner for musical event of the year with “I Hope You’re Happy Now,” her duet with Lee Brice. The song was her last project with late producer busbee, who died from brain cancer in Sept. 2019.

“I will forever realize that busbee helped me get my first No. 1, my first CMA Award -- these big milestones that I'll carry on in my career and forever be grateful to the time that I had with him,” she says. “All I ever wanted to do was to be someone that was in country music. [The CMA Award] it's almost a nod that you're doing something right, that you’re a part of it. And really that is all I ever wanted: to just be a part of it.”

Pearce’s latest release is “Show Me Around,” a poignant ballad that honors busbee. She released the song earlier this month after debuting it at the Grand Ole Opry in June.

“Watching everyone able to take the song and put their own story of loss into the song has made me realize the power of music and the power of trying to emote things that are real,” she says.

As she readies a new chapter of her career with “Next Girl,” Pearce reflects on the impact country radio has played in her life.

“We really couldn't do what we do without country radio. We are one of the only formats that still really does 100% function because of radio,” she says. “I'm really grateful that they feel like my music matters.”