Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde performed another powerful rendition of their heartbreaking duet, “Never Wanted To Be That Girl,” at the 57th Academy of Country Music Awards, portraying a painful love triangle.
Pearce got candid about sharing her pain in her songwriting when she spoke with media outlets at the awards show in Las Vegas. She delved into what it’s like to connect with listeners so personally, after seeing the response to that song and others her 15-track album, 29: Written in Stone.
The reigning ACM Female Artist of the Year has learned that “fans wanna hear my stories, and they want to hear whatever I’m going through. Whatever truth that is. I feel like it’s a transitional record coming into the best version of myself, because I really do feel like I’m the best version of myself. I feel really good.” Pearce also learned “how resilient I am, and brave. I don’t think that I ever — you can never prepare yourself for hard things, but I feel like my parents taught me to always get back up and go for it, and I feel like I’ve really seen myself do that, and I’m proud of that.”
When asked about whose music she listens to, knowing that her music has connected with so many fans, Pearce said she’s “always gravitated towards people who write real,” pointing out Loretta Lynn, Lee Ann Womack and Trisha Yearwood as iconic influences. Pearce has often been hailed as an honest and vulnerable songwriter after releasing her latest album (including by Lady A frontwoman Hillary Scott). She emphasized the importance of finding purpose through pain, and using it to connect with others:
“You can never prepare yourself to go through the things that I’v gone through in the last couple of years, but I think what I wanted to do with this album was just lay it all out there, and I think what I have found: my purpose is so much greater than just being a singer on a stage. ...My duty as a person, as a woman and as a songwriter is just to make sure that people know you can go through hard things, but you can also go through them, learn things from them and become better. And I think, every time I get on stage now I feel like people see me more like a human being than just a singer, and I truly would go through it all again because I feel like I have found such a richer purpose in my life.
“…I have had people in the industry, I have had fellow artists, I have had fans come up to me and share their stories of infidelity with me, and how this song [‘Never Wanted To Be That Girl’] has made them pull over on the side of the road, or made them start crying when they heard it for the first time. I feel like I’m learning about my fans and about my peers in a whole new way because we are relating on something that you don’t really wanna talk about but is a very normal and realistic thing that happens in life.
“For me, I feel like I know people better because of this song, and because of the subject matter, and that I didn’t shy away from it. I’m really proud of that.”