Carly Pearce Shares Full-Circle Moment At Dollywood While Shooting ‘Something Really Special’

Did you know that Pearce got her start as a performer at the beloved theme park?


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

October 21, 2023


1:17 pm

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Carly Pearce; Photos via Instagram

Carly Pearce is teasing something “really special” in the works that follows her journey of working at Dollywood as an aspiring singer/songwriter to now achieving her dreams as a GRAMMY-winning country music star. 

Without giving away too much information about the forthcoming project, Pearce took to Instagram on Thursday (Oct. 19), to relish in the nostalgia of returning to the place where her singing career began.

The post included side-by-side photos of her recent shoot at Dollywood compared to her days of visiting the Dolly Parton theme park as a child. In both images, she posed in front of the beautiful flowerbeds and the iconic “Dollywood” sign.

Her caption read, “Full circle moment going back to Dollywood today to shoot something really special about my time working as a singer in the country show there years ago. Swipe for the OG little Carly with big dreams 🥹🤍”

During a recent interview on the Sony podcast, Best Friend Energy with Clea Shearer & Joanna Teplin, Pearce opened up about her big dreams that led her to Dollywood at just 16 years old. While she was still in her sophomore year of high school in a small town of Kentucky at the time, Pearce was determined to take her singing career to the next level. So when she came across an audition to be a singer at country shows in Dollywood, she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to test her skills. 

“I auditioned [and] got the job,” she said proudly.

After landing her first-ever steady performance gig, Pearce and her mom packed up and moved their lives out to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. 

“At the time I didn’t even realize that my mom was uprooting her life to drive me and live with me in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Gatlinburg,” Pearce admitted. “I worked six shows a day, five days a week at Dollywood for two years.”

Carly Pearce; Photo by Andrew Wendowski
Carly Pearce; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

Pearce worked on her skills and stage presence throughout her time at Dollywood and then once her time there was up, she made yet another move, this time to Nashville, TN. In order to stay in music city and keep herself a float while simultaneously writing songs, Pearce ended up with a variety of jobs including working as a backup singer, retail, serving, cleaning Airbnbs, etc. 

Everything changed when she met her late producer, Busbee. Together with Emily Shackelton, they penned Pearce’s first No. 1 hit, “Every Little Thing.”

YouTube video

The Kentucky Music Hall of Fame member has come a long way since then, as she’s continued to pave her own way to success with songs like the 3x PLATINUM-certified “I Hope You’re Happy Now” with Lee Brice, and radio chart-toppers “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” with Ashley McBryde and  “What He Didn’t Do.”

“It was wild. I mean, ‘Every Little Thing,’ even six years ago, there were not a lot of female artists being played on radio [and] you certainly didn’t hear a lot of heartbreak ballads from new female artists. For whatever reason, this song just kind of broke a lot of the stereotypical things that you hear in the music industry and changed my whole life.,” she shared before adding, “And it’s funny, I feel like now I’m able to kind of take those creative liberties and put out songs like ‘Never Wanted to be That Girl’ or write an album called 29. That’s kind of what fans expect of me, and that’s such a cool place for me to be in.”

Another milestone moment came in 2021 when she experienced a full-circle moment with Dolly Parton, the woman who indirectly helped Pearce land her first gig as a country singer. On June 17, 2021, Carly Pearce received the surprise of a lifetime while visiting Opry to film what she thought was content for Dollywood. The “Next Girl” singer had no idea that Parton was actually there to ask her to become the next member of the Grand Ole Opry.

After getting the official invite, Pearce was inducted into the Opry during a ceremony on August 3, 2021.

Dolly Parton, Carly Pearce; Photo by Alexa Campbell
Dolly Parton, Carly Pearce; Photo by Alexa Campbell

Pearce is currently in the midst of her Country Music Made Me Do It Tour while her duet with Chris Stapleton, “We Don’t Fight Anymore,” continues to climb the country radio charts. Upon its debut to airwaves on June 16, the song raked in 95 first-week adds and marked the biggest add date of her career so far. 

The Country Music Made Me Do It Tour kicked off October 5 in New York, NY and features support from Adam Doleac and Hannah Ellis. This run of shows includes stops in Los Angeles, CA, Tacoma, WA, Chicago, IL and more before wrapping up in Detroit, MI on November 18.

Additionally, Carly Pearce has been tapped to serve as support on Tim McGraw’s Standing Room Only Tour this upcoming spring. 

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.