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Carly Pearce ready for the next chapter in her burgeoning music career

Carly Pearce | Rachel Deeb Photo

She’s got the smile of Carrie Underwood and the voice of Faith Hill, the authenticity of Dolly Parton. But don’t take these lofty comparisons as a way to compartmentalize rising country star Carly Pearce.

She is her own woman carving her own way in the music business.

“I moved to Nashville seven years ago,” the 28-year-old from Taylor Mill, Kentucky, says about her beginnings, which included leaving high school for the chance to perform at Parton’s famed Dollywood. “Every human being I came across told me no in one way or another. I worked in retail and did a ton of odd jobs. I guess I just have always been that kind of person that was never willing to give up. I always have believed that one song can change everything.”

LUKE BRYAN

With: Sam Hunt, Jon Pardi, Carly Pearce, DJ Rock

When: September 1

Where: Wrigley Field, 1060 W. Addison

Tickets: $59.75 – $99.75

Info: mlb.com/tickets

For Pearce, that one song was “Every Little Thing,” a revelatory tune about one of her ex-boyfriends that made her one of only three women in the past 12 years to see a debut single hit No. 1 on the country music charts. From there, Pearce’s debut album has spawned the addictive “If My Name Was Whiskey” and her current single “Hide the Wine,” which is finding it’s way to the top of the charts.

“You can’t prepare yourself for the storm that I have just [gone] through,” exclaims Pearce, who came home with the CMT Music Award’s Breakthrough Video of the Year for “Every Little Thing” earlier this year. “As a new artist, this last year has been a dream. So many things have happened. I feel like every couple of days something else is happening that I can’t believe.”

Pearce says that Chicago has had a lot to do with that success.

“Chicago has helped my career so much,” she says. “I started coming to Joe’s Bar with Josh Abbott Band and playing as part of Whiskey Jam, so starting this tour with Luke [Bryan] in Chicago is sort of ironic.”

Indeed, next up on this crazy roller-coaster of a year for Pearce is one of the opener spots for Bryan, who brings his What Makes You Country XL Stadium Sized Tour into Wrigley Field Sept. 1.

“It’s a dream to go out on tour with Luke Bryan,” says Pearce, who recently completed a summer touring stint with country trio Rascal Flatts. “I’ve always been a fan of what he’s done and I can guarantee I will be singing along with him as a fan from the side of the stage.”

And yes, chances are, she will be standing at that side stage with fellow country star, self-proclaimed Chicago Cubs fan and current boyfriend Michael Ray.

“Playing Wrigley Field is definitely making Michael jealous,” she laughs. “I’m not a huge baseball fan but I’m becoming one because of him.”

Pearce and Ray started dating earlier this year.

“It’s really funny,” Pearce says about the relationship with Ray that went public back in July via matching Instagram posts. “I have known Michael since we met at the CRS New Faces Show in Nashville. But then, something clicked in my brain. We would have these in-depth conversations, and I just totally fell in love really fast. We are in such a cool place in our lives. We are just really excited to be together.”

So what’s next on this fairytale of a life and career?

“I have half of my next album done already,” she says. “’Hide the Wine’ could very well be the last single for [her current] album, and it does feel like it’s time. I have lived in this new world of mine for a year and a half since the last album came out and the fact is that I’m a different girl now, I have definitely evolved as an artist. I’m ready to close that chapter, and get going on the next.”

Tricia Despres is a local freelance writer.