Carly Pearce Feels Busbee's Loss as She Prepares to Release Sophomore Album (Exclusive)

When famed producer and songwriter Busbee (real name: Michael James Ryan), passed away in [...]

When famed producer and songwriter Busbee (real name: Michael James Ryan), passed away in September, after battling brain cancer, Carly Pearce was a few months away from announcing the release of her self-titled sophomore album. The Kentucky native is still mourning his loss, more as her Feb. 14 release date approaches, especially since the record has Busbee's imprint all over it.

"I feel like we both felt like this album would be the one that really put my flag in the ground, and hopefully took me to the next level," Pearce told "And we had so much fun making this one. I would just tell him, in the last two records, and since the beginning of Every Little Thing, he helped me find my voice. He helped me find my artistry. He helped me get my dream and I'm just forever grateful to that and really, really proud of what we did."

Pearce, who is still emotional talking about his absence, vows his influence will still continue, even if he is no longer physically present.

"What's great is no matter where I go next, I will keep a lot of the same things that he taught me.," Pearce vowed. "I will also keep the same team around me that worked in the studio alongside of us. It's important to me because I wouldn't have changed producers. He was my guy. So just making sure that I keep his legacy alive in different ways, in the ways that I can control."

Even Pearce, who was close to Busbee both personally and professionally, was unaware of the severity of Busbee's illness, at least at first.

"No one knew," Pearce told American Songwriter. "He had some signs of forgetfulness, but then he had the seizure in July and nine weeks later, he was dead. This is the last full record he turned in. He turned it in ten days before he had the seizure."

"He put me on the map and helped me get to where I am now," she added. "I can hear so much of him on this record. It will now be a part of his legacy."

Pearce's new album includes her current single, "I Hope You're Happy Now," with Lee Brice, as well as a duet, "Finish Your Sentences," which both Thomas Rhett and Kelsea Ballerini had a hand in writing. Pre-order the record at Pearce's website.

Photo Credit: Getty / Jim Spellman