Carly Pearce Opens up About Busbee's Brain Cancer: 'No One Knew'

When famed producer Busbee passed away in September from brain cancer, his sudden death rocked the music community, but few felt it as personally as Carly Pearce. Busbee, whose real name was Michael James Ryan, worked as both a producer and writer with dozens of artists, including Keith Urban, Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Maren Morris, Kelly Clarkson among others, and produced Pearce's upcoming self-titled sophomore album, marking his final full record he turned in as a producer.

Pearce is still trying to come to terms with his loss, which happened suddenly and almost without warning.

“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.”

It was Busbee who championed Pearce's career from the very beginning, producing her freshman Every Little Thing record, and helping her in every step of her career. His influence is one Pearce knows she will always carry with her, even with his absence.

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

Pearce just dropped "It Won't Always Be Like This" from her upcoming record. The song was inspired by Pearce's grandparents, but takes on an entirely new meaning after Busbee's untimely death.

“Busbee thought this song was really special from the beginning,” Pearce said. “Everyone in the studio could just feel it. And just by coincidence, Busbee’s brother was in Nashville visiting him while we were working on this song. They had had a rocky relationship in the past and I remember the song bringing him to tears. He was just so touched by this song.”

"It Won't Always Be Like This" remains a personal story for Pearce, who admits she wishes she had heeded her own advice in the song.

“There were many times in my life where I doubted where my life was taking me,” Pearce acknowledged. “I remember the days when my friends were getting record deals and I was still cleaning [Airbnbs]. I didn’t understand why my story was turning out the way it was and why life wasn’t happening the way I thought it would be.”


Carly Pearce will be out on Valentine's Day. Pre-order is available on her website.

Photo Credit: Getty / Jim Spellman