Carly Pearce Is Proud to Be 'Changing the Face of Country Music' With Fellow Female ACM Awards Nominees (Exclusive)

Carly Pearce is nominated for three ACM Awards at this week's upcoming ceremony, and though the nominations were announced in February, she still has to pinch herself. "I still kind of am like, is it real? Are we sure that's happening?" she told PopCulture.com. "OK, great. I'm very excited."

Pearce is up for Single of the Year and Music Event of the Year for "I Hope You're Happy Now," her collaboration with Lee Brice, as well as Female Artist of the Year, her first nod in that category. "I think that being able to say that you're in those five being recognized in that way just elevates you to a whole different level," she explained. "And for me truly... being nominated for that, to me is just as good as winning one."

The Kentucky native is nominated alongside Miranda Lambert, Kelsea Ballerini, Ashley McBryde and Maren Morris, the latter three of whom Pearce considers good friends. "It's awesome," she said of being nominated alongside those names. "I mean, [Ballerini] has obviously been such a supporter of mine since long before I had a record deal and she's just always championed me. And honestly, Maren's a really good friend as well, and Ashley, so it's kind of awesome for all of us to be the next generation that's really changing the face of country music."

Pearce's commitment to authenticity has resonated with fans and helped propel her success, including earning her a second No. 1 song with "I Hope You're Happy Now." "It's the only way that I know how to express myself," she shared. "I'm actually quite shy at heart. So I think that the way that I can truly say how I feel or also feel the most understood is not by really saying things out loud and being kind of like the life of the party or anything like that. It's more internalizing it, dealing with it and then writing about it. And it's been really cool to see what that's done."

In February, she released her most honest project yet, the seven-song 29, which chronicled her tumultuous past year. "I think that what I have to continue to remind myself and what I continue to remind myself in the songwriting and making of this album is, I am not doing anything differently than I was before," the 30-year-old mused. "Now, can people speculate and put a face now to the music? For sure. But I think it's important for me as an artist, and it's important for me, it's like my duty to my fans to continue to be as authentic as I've always been, because I do feel like that's my brand."