It’s going to be a big night for country star, Carly Pearce! Not only is the 28-year-old Kentucky native nominated for New Female Artist of the Year at the 54th annual Academy of Country Music Awards, but she is also teaming up with Aflac for the Second Annual ACM Lifting Lives Honor, which celebrates the healing power of music through philanthropy.
Ahead of Sunday night’s glitzy and glamorous awards show airing live on CBS and hosted by Reba McEntire, Pearce spoke exclusively to PopCulture.com about the importance of taking on such a role with the ceremony.
“I’m really, really excited to be a part of the Aflac campaign,” Pearce told PopCulture.com. “I think it’s amazing that they’ve teamed up with the ACM’s Lifting Lives to honor someone who has made a significant contribution in the music industry that maybe hasn’t been recognized.”
Pearce adds that with music being such a “comfort” in her own life, joining Aflac and the ACM Lifting Lives campaign in recognizing how the “power in a song” can truly change one’s circumstances has been all the more special for her.
In an effort to amplify awareness of the positive impact that music can have on people’s lives and health, the Academy of Country Music announced its return with Aflac, a leader among the U.S. in supplemental insurance sales, as well as the exclusive insurance partner of the ACM Awards, to bestow the Aflac ACM Lifting Lives Honor for a second consecutive year.
While last year the collaboration brought out Chris Young to award Judith Pinkerton for her advocacy of music therapy with Music 4 Life, this year, Texas singer-songwriter Brandon Ray received the esteemed honor for outstanding, selfless contributions in bringing power as a healer to patients in hospitals across the U.S. as a volunteer with Musicians On Call. The nonprofit organization aims to bring live and recorded music to patients in health care facilities that develops and funds music-related therapy and education programs.
“Receiving the Aflac ACM Lifting Lives Honor and being a part of the 54th Annual ACM Awards has been an incredible experience,” Ray said in a press release. “Learning the guitar helped me recover from an injury when I was very young, so I know the healing power of music. Just knowing that my music is helping others, especially pediatric patients, through their healing process means the world to me, because what you do with the talent you’ve been given — your ability to improve the lives of those in need — is what it’s all about.”
Giving the honor to Ray was even more special for Pearce, partially because of their connection.
“I actually know him very well and I know that he’s a songwriter in town that has obviously been working really hard in the same way that I have,” she shares exclusively with PopCulture.com. “So, I understand his troubles and his dedication to country music, and I think it’s amazing that his heart is also being recognized, because he has a big one.”
A portion of the trophy presentation from Friday night with Pearce and Ray will be featured in a new Aflac television commercial airing during the ACMs broadcast, with the custom spot produced by Dick Clark Productions.
In addition to celebrating the power of music Sunday night with her fellow country artists, Pearce is really excited about her nomination in the New Female Artist of the Year category — an honor of her own that she shares with the likes of Ashley McBryde, Danielle Bradbery and Lindsay Ell.
“I think that it’s a really exciting time to be a female in country music and I think that you’re seeing the tides change from years past,” Pearce told PopCulture.com. “And I think that the four women that were up for New Female Artist all share the love of country music, but are all very different artists, and I think it’s chilling and highlighting that we are making changes to the boys club.”
While Pearce says the experience of attending the ACM Awards is still surreal for her, there is always one face that leaves her starstruck every year.
“Reba for one,” Pearce smiles. “She’s been so sweet to me and such an advocate of mine and posted about me on her social media way back when [my music] was barely on the charts.”
Pearce recalls how two years ago when she was a red carpet correspondent for the ACMs, McEntire was exactly how she appears to everyone — warm and incredibly courteous.
“She was so kind to me and really just built me up and to this day, any time I see her, she knows me by name now and that’s weird,” Pearce says with a laugh.0comments
The 54th ACM Awards hosted by McEntire will air live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 7, 2019 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. And stay tuned to PopCulture.com for more with Carly Pearce!
Photo credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for ACM