Carly Pearce Isn't "That Girl" Anymore, She Talks New Music, Moving On And Moving Up

Carly Pearce is hoping for a repeat at the 66th Grammy Awards, which will honor the best recordings, compositions, and artists from October 1, 2022, to September 15, 2023. The 66th Grammy Awards will air live from Los Angeles February 4, 2024 on CBS.

When Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde won the Grammy Award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for "Never Wanted to Be That Girl" in 2023, they bested headlining nominees, including Reba McEntire with Dolly Parton, Robert Plant with Alison Krauss, Luke Combs with Miranda Lambert and more.

She wondered how she was going to top it. She knew her 2021 studio album "29: Written in Stone" was a monumental turning point in her life and career. The 15-song album drew inspiration from her high-profile divorce, included hits "Next Girl" and "What He Didn't Do" in addition to the McBryde duet and paved the way for her to win Female Vocalist of the Year at the 2021 CMA Awards.

Pearce turned to one of her favorite singers – Chris Stapleton – for a creative assist. And it worked. Pearce and Stapleton are nominated for Best Country Duo/Group Performance with their duet "We Don't Fight Anymore" at the 66th Grammy Awards, which will air live from Los Angeles February 4, 2024, on CBS.

"I feel like in a lot of ways that Grammy win was three years ago," Pearce told CMT the Friday before Christmas. "This year has been the closing of the '29' chapter for me and the opening of a new chapter. It's really special to have this song that I love so much that I wrote with one of my absolute favorite singers in the whole world on it with me. And to be recognized by the Academy, again, just a year later in the same category -- it's really special."

Pearce and Stapleton are both Kentucky natives. Stapleton called her on his way to the studio to record his part and asked what she wanted to hear from him on the track. Pearce told him to do what he felt. Stapleton took the song's bridge and made it his own, which she explains gave "We Don't Fight Anymore" a new voice and a different meaning.

When she heard Stapleton's voice on the song in the studio, she told People that she asked her producer to remove her voice from the bridge.

"This is his bridge," she said. "It's almost now a conversation where we call and answer each other. He sings something that was just better than anything I could have ever told him to sing."

"We Don't Fight Anymore" is from Pearce's forthcoming album. And while she believes "29: Written in Stone" set her on the path to being the most authentic version of herself, she's ready to move on.

"I feel so removed from that season in my life that I'm really excited to be able to share with fans a new chapter," she said. "I did not know how I was going to be able to make '29,' not the greatest album I've ever made. I really feel like I've done that. I think I've topped it and made just a more mature album, more just even more country and more myself than that one. So, I'm excited."

Pearce said she hasn't talked about the new album at all and that, more than anything, it reflects where her life has been over the last few years. She's ridden a career-high while rebuilding her personal life in the spotlight.

"I'm still on a healing journey of what occurred in my life," Pearce said. "And also just coming more into my own and feeling like my 30s are just a season that I'm really enjoying and the confidence level of me as a human being and an artist, but also just as a woman. It's there. I think people will find the things they love about me on there, but there's also a sense of just coming to terms with what happened to me and moving on."

Fans watched as Pearce put her life back together in 2023 while continuing to build her career. Pearce revealed the end of her two-year relationship with athlete and real estate agent Riley King and confirmed she was dating her drummer, BC Taylor, a few months later. Her song "What He Didn't Do" topped country radio charts a whopping 80 weeks after it was released – a milestone that made her the first female to have a solo No. 1 song in almost two years.

"It's mind-blowing because of the women that we have in the format and the ones that I know are on the sidelines, just waiting for the opportunity to have their shot to have a song on the radio," she said. "It also gives me a sense of pride to be an example for women that are trying, to show them that you can be literally the most authentic version of yourself, and you can do it."

In addition, Pearce got people talking with her Gwen Stefani duet on the CMT Music Awards and then performed "We Don't Fight Anymore" with Stapleton several months later on the CMA Awards. She says that awards shows are coming to her with offers to perform other than her team trying to procure the spots for her is an undeniable reflection of her career growth.

"There were many years where I was not a part of award shows," she said. "I was not thought of for those types of things. I was not thought of for hosting. I feel like I've gotten to this place where I have a spot on all of these programs that I always wanted to be a part of, and that kind of happened this year. They call us. And that's just a really sweet place to be in."

She spent much of 2023 on tour and writing for her new album – another first for her. She was nervous but couldn't be happier with how it turned out. Pearce promises to release it near the beginning of 2024.

Looking back, she said: "2023 is just another example of the ways that my childhood dreams continue to come true."

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