Carly Pearce earned her first CMA Award nomination for New Artist of the Year this year, with the trophy going to her good friend, Ashley McBryde, instead. But for Pearce, the nomination was in itself its own reward, and one that she will carry with her for the rest of her life.
"I think it's validation that the industry views you as somebody who is important to our genre," Pearce told PEOPLE. "For me, I want to be a country artist, a purist. That is what I want to do. So the fact that they feel I am worthy of that makes you want to push yourself to be even more validating to them."
"The fact that this year I get to say I'm ending the year that was such a monumental year for me, being able to go to an awards show that I watched my entire life, and say that I'm nominated for an award that I've always just looked at," Pearce reflected. "I feel like that group, those five people are really just the next generation of country music, I'm just excited. I don't care what happens."
Pearce didn't expect to be nominated this year, especially since she knew McBryde was announcing the nominees.
"I was making eggs, and Michael looked at me, and was like, 'Congratulations, Best New Artist nominee,'" Pearce recently recalled to PopCulture.com and other media. "And I purposefully – to be honest with you, Ashley McBryde was announcing the nominations, and I was like, 'Well, there's the girl that's nominated.' And I was so happy for her, so I didn't watch. Because I was like, 'I'm just not going to watch; it's gonna be fine. I love Ashley, but there's no way they're gonna have two females.'
"And that made it so much better, because I genuinely was completely shocked," she added. "Burned our eggs. We ended up eating them though, but I just started running around the house."
Pearce just announced her self-titled sophomore album will be out on Valentine's Day next year. The record includes her current single, "I Hope You're Happy Now," which is a duet with Lee Brice. Order Carly Pearce and download the single by visiting her website.
Photo Credit: Getty / John Shearer