By now, Carly Pearce has watched and re-watched that video: The one where the singer thinks she’s filming a commercial for Dollywood, where she got her country music start as a teenager, until Dolly Parton herself shows up, with an invite for Pearce to join the Grand Ole Opry.
And although the video footage captures quite a bit of the special moment — the big surprise, the emotional moment when Pearce sinks to the ground in joyful tears, the heartfelt exchange between her and Parton — there’s plenty more than happened once the cameras stopped rolling, or wound up being edited out.
“The reason that they had to edit so much of it was because I was hysterical. Like, I could not,” Pearce laughed in a virtual press event, just days after news of her Opry invitation broke. After the taping finished, the singer says, she was still struggling to compose herself.
“I had tears everywhere and snot everywhere, because I had been crying. [Dolly] walked over to me and she had her new perfume in her hand. She said, ‘Honey, do you want some of my perfume?…Smell my neck.’ I was like, ‘Dolly, I have just cried for the last 20 minutes! I’m afraid I’m gonna snot on you!’” Pearce recounts.
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“She handed me her perfume and she just reiterated to me that she’s [been a member of the Grand Ole Opry for 50 years], and she felt so excited to welcome me into the family,” the singer goes on to say.
Since getting the official invite, Pearce says that a number of the Opry’s legendary women have gotten in touch with her to extend their congratulations. “I got a random phone call this week and it was Barbara Mandrell. I’ve never met her. And she had this long conversation with me about becoming a member and how excited she is for me, just giving me some of her insight,” she says. “Trisha Yearwood sent me a text!
“…It’s just so crazy to have all these women that I’ve really looked up to, that are country music royalty, wrapping their arms around me in this time,” Pearce adds.
Long before getting her invitation to become a member, Pearce has been vocal about how important the Grand Ole Opry is to her, and what it would mean to her to become a steward of country music’s most hallowed halls.
“For me, it’s always been something that, if I were ever lucky enough to become be a member, it wouldn’t just be a moment or a press opp or a little flash in the pan,” she explains. “It’s a lifelong commitment to keep the circle unbroken….And I have sat in a room with Jeannie Seely and Trisha Yearwood, and they’re looking at me saying, ‘We feel confident in you to pass the baton.’ So I feel like it’s my responsibility in this generation, probably the same way Trisha felt about Jeannie’s generation, to keep it and preserve it in the way that it needs to be.”
Pearce will officially be inducted into the Opry during a ceremony on August 3. “I feel like I’m planning the biggest party of my life!” she jokes of the upcoming event. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t already have my dress, because I do.”
She also already knows at least two of the names that are going to be on her guest list for that night.
“I immediately called my parents [after getting invited,]” she says. “My parents were the reason I got to drop out of school when I was 16. They were insane. They sacrificed so much…to make this country music dream happen for me…It’s just an extremely emotional time for the three of us, because without them, I couldn’t have done it. So they have to be there.
“And I know my mom, she already has her outfit picked out [too],” Pearce adds with a chuckle. “So I guess I get it honest.”