It’s an undeniable fact that women in country music have fought for years to be equally heard alongside their male counterparts. It seems as if there is this notion that women don’t have important topics to talk about or aren’t worth listening to. As a female who has been listening to country music since I can remember, I absolutely beg to differ! Without a little Dolly, Patsy, Reba, Shania, Martina, Kelsea, Carrie, Maren, Kacey—I could go on—I would not be the independent woman I am today. Their lyrics crush boundaries and challenge the typical mold of what a lady in country music should talk about. In their own way, they have forced raw truth down your throat with an extra side of sass and powerful belting that can make anyone want to sing at the top of their lungs.
The very first moment I heard “Every Little Thing” by Carly Pearce, only one word came to mind and that was nostalgia. Her overall sound brought me back to the ’90s growing up listening to ballads about love and heartbreak from a female perspective. She completely challenged the music industry standard, breaking out as a brand-new artist with a ballad in the summer on Sirius Radio with zero backing. Her song shot up the charts like a rocket simply because country fans wanted to hear the female perspective and they connected to her relatable style and lyrical content. Pearce’s sound is nostalgic but on the other hand, it's a simply new and refreshing take on '90s country that fans love so much. She was the catalyst that broke the mold and has paved a path for all of the new women in country music that have been told that they just don’t work and people don’t want to hear women on country radio.
So, when I realized she was playing in the town I live in, at the fairly new Canyon Club in Santa Clarita, I hopped on the opportunity to photograph her show. I am so glad that I didn’t miss it! Pearce’s crowd had a good mixture of people—men and women, young and old. It was obvious that her music touched so many lives.
She opened her show with heart-pounding drums leading into the powerful 2nd song off of her debut album, a relatable getting-over-you type of anthem, “Careless.” She sings “I’m calm, cool, collected. Keeping my heart locked up, protected. Now all your begging and pleading is bouncing back to you. An echo in the cold hard truth. You’re just a boy who cries, love!”
At one point in all of our lives, we have had to make that hard decision to leave a relationship with someone you truly cared about that just doesn’t deserve you anymore. The gut-wrenching yet relatable lyrics are hard to listen to from any perspective but could help lift anyone going through a similar situation.
Since the beginning of her career, Pearce did not hide the fact that she is a fan of wine! So, it wasn’t a surprise to see someone in the crowd with a handmade poster having to do with wine and ladies wearing shirts with wine glasses and clever phrases. I caught moments of men cheering Pearce on front row with a glass of wine in hand while she sang her crowd favorite “Hide the Wine.”
Another memorable moment I caught was a group of girls handing her a Michael Ray hat. She put it on her head and asked the crowd, “Someone take a picture and tag him in it?” She goes on to talk about her brand-new marriage to country singer Michael Ray, a cool segway into her summer smash “Closer to You.” She explains, “I just got married a couple weeks ago to the best man in the whole world.” She goes on to talk about how her relationship has helped shaped her songwriting for the very anticipated 2nd album she calls CP2. It was another fun moment to see the crowd get really excited as she began singing her newest hit “I hope you’re happy now.” She then invited her opener Ryan Griffin on stage to sing Lee Brice’s part in the song and the crowd went nuts!
Her last and final song coincidently would be the song that launched her career, “Every Little Thing.” Every single fan in the venue, including the bartenders alongside the stage, were singing every last word. The intimate setting of the Canyon Club really brings you close to your fans and to see people up close singing her song back to her brought out lots of emotions for Pearce. She buried her face in her hands with tears in her eyes and was so very thankful for everyone spending their Friday night with her. It was a unique experience to observe how she commanded the crowd’s attention, waved at fans, acknowledged gestures and included the crowd to sing along with her. Vocally, she nailed every single song and the crowd was seriously impressed! Carly Pearce is a true performer who has created her own type of show and her fans are here for it!
In closing, I think it’s safe to say that I have witnessed time and time again that fans want to hear what the women in country music have to say. Pearce spent 10 years in Nashville fighting for her shot to tell her story and speak her truth. She doesn’t take one moment for granted; she truly has a gift and her lyrics reach people all over the world in many ways. It was exciting to witness an artist I relate to on so many levels touch people in the community I live in. She has just begun her first headlining tour and I highly recommend you catch a show of hers when she comes to your city!
Photos by Brittany Berggren; See brittanyberggren.com