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A microphone on stage.

Rising Country Star Carly Pearce Got Her Start in Pigeon Forge

Carly Pearce may not be a household name yet, but that won’t be the case for much longer! Pearce is a rising star in the world of country music, and 2017 is poised to be a huge year for the 27-year old singer. Springboarding off of her hit single “Every Little Thing”, Pearce is expected to release her debut album with Big Machine Records later this year. Country Music Television recently named her one of the “Next Women of Country” and included her in their list of “17 for 2017”.

Here at Visit My Smokies, we consider Carly to be one of our own, because the singer got her start performing in Pigeon Forge, TN! Read on to learn all about Pearce’s Smoky Mountain roots.

From Taylor Mill to Pigeon Forge

A native of Taylor Mill, Kentucky, Carly Pearce always wanted to be a musician. In an interview with the Jackson Free Press, Pearce said that she “never knew a day that [she] didn’t want to sing for a living”. Her mother claims that she learned to sing before she learned to talk!

Carly started competing in talent shows at a very young age, and by the time she was 11, she was touring as the lead singer in a local bluegrass band. Eager to spread her wings, Pearce dropped out of school at age 16 and moved to Pigeon Forge to follow her dreams.

A World Class Musical Education at Dollywood

Carly landed her first job as a singer in a country show at Dollywood. When she wasn’t performing at the theme park, Pearce was being homeschooled by her mother, who moved to the Smokies with her. Carly’s paycheck from Dollywood paid for her apartment in Pigeon Forge.

For Pearce, singing at Dollywood was like a musical “boot camp or college”, where she learned “a lot of valuable lessons” that she continues to use today. Speaking about her time at the theme park, Pearce said, “We did six shows a day, five days a week, and you have to put on the same show in the morning that you put on in the evening because you’re going to have a different crowd. It just kind of built up my stamina and, from an early age, made me understand that I really wanted to do it.”

You can see what Carly looked like during her Dollywood days in this Throwback Thursday Instagram picture:

In addition to her stint at Dollywood, Pearce also honed her skills as a cast member at Pigeon Forge’s Country Tonite Theatre. After a year at Country Tonite, Carly packed her bags and headed to Nashville in pursuit of a record contract. Despite a few setbacks and false starts, Pearce was eventually signed to Big Machine Records, the label of big name artists like Taylor Swift, Jennifer Nettles, and Rascal Flatts.

Watch Carly Pearce Cover Dolly Parton

As a Dollywood alumnus, it is only fitting that Carly Pearce is getting a lot of attention for her recent cover of a Dolly Parton classic! When Carly stopped by The Bobby Bones Show, she performed a spectacular rendition of Dolly’s hit song “9 to 5”. You can watch Pearce’s in-studio performance below:

While Carly Pearce may be based in Nashville these days, there are many other up-and-coming musicians performing in the Smokies! To see the area’s best local artists, check out the Top 4 Places to Hear Live Music in Pigeon Forge.