Carly Pearce Should Be Next Contemporary Grand Ole Opry Member
Placing aside for a second the list of all of the great traditional country artists and country legends that should be considered for induction into The Grand Ole Opry, and it is ample. I mean goodness, what does Jamey Johnson have to do at this point to make it in? But when it was announced recently that Lady Antebellum would be the latest inductee, it seemed like such an unfair hopscotching of so many other deserving performers, even when you take into consideration that the previous two invitees were Gene Watson and Rhonda Vincent in early 2020, and so it was probably about time for them to pick a mainstream act.
Still, you would like to think that such a weighty distinction would fall upon the shoulders of someone—mainstream or otherwise—who you know will take the privilege seriously, will honor the roots and prestige of the institution and country music in general, regardless of what one might think about their music. Carrie Underwood is a good example. She’s probably not very high on the depth charts of traditionalists. But she has shown nothing but reverence and commitment to the Opry over her career.
The name you saw bandied about after the Lady Antebellum announcement that could fulfill those requirements was Big Machine’s Carly Pearce. Born in Taylor Mill, Kentucky in the northern tip of the state, Pearce developed an interest in country music at an early age from her grandparents, and was playing bluegrass at 11, declaring proudly in one home video that she would play The Grand Ole Opry someday. Her real last name is Slusser, but she adopted Pearce as a stage name after her grandfather.
Carly Pearce dropped out of school at 16 after trying out for the “Country Crossroads” show at Dollywood and winning the job. She then convinced her family to move to Pigeon Forge with her. There she performed bluegrass music six times a day, five days a week, and performed on a few bluegrass compilations albums as well. Carly Pearce’s musical acumen was formed deep in the roots of country music, and her commitment to the music from an early age was profound. This is the very kind of performer you would like to see graced with an Opry invite.
Carly moved to Nashville when she was 19, and struggled for years to get her start, signing a developmental deal with Sony Nashville before losing it soon after, and cleaning AirBNB’s to get by. One of her first champions was actually Pete Fisher, who was the General Manager of the Opry at the time, and bestowed Pearce with her Opry debut in 2015 when she was still unsigned. Guesting on the track “Wasn’t That Drunk” from Texas’s Josh Abbott Band is what put her on the map of radio, and eventually led her to signing with Big Machine Records.
Since recording for Big Machine, it’s been fair to characterize Carly Pearce’s output as hit and miss, both considering its adherence to country’s roots, and the quality of the writing and composition. Like so many country artists that move to Nashville, she wants to be country, but is pushed in a more pop and commercial direction by the powers that be. In October of 2019 she was quoted as saying, “I really wanna be a purist. I really wanna be a country artist. I was in Nashville for eight and a half years before I got a record deal. I wanted so desperately for people to care about my music that I was writing from a place of desperation.”
But one thing that hasn’t wavered is Carly’s commitment to the Grand Ole Opry. Since receiving that opportunity from Pete Fisher in 2015, Carly Pearce has performed on the Opry stage some 80 times. With the concerns over the last few years with so few mainstream Opry members actually taking time to perform on the stage, that is the level of commitment you want to see from the performers who are invited to join.
There is still a lot to determine about the career path of Carly Pearce moving forward. Her current single “Next Girl” speaks to her desire to be more country, and with the success of guys like Luke Combs and others in the mainstream with more country sounds, it has opened the door for an artist like Carly to express their country roots more strongly.
If The Grand Ole Opry is going to induct artists from the mainstream, they should be ones on the way up, they should be able straddle that difficult line of being both commercially relevant and committed to country’s roots, and they should want it more than anything else in the world, like it’s something they’ve dreamed about their entire lives, and they will never take it for granted. Considering those requirements, there’s nobody more qualified from the mainstream set at the moment than Carly Pearce.
January 25, 2021 @ 12:58 pm
She woudl be an acceptable choice. I find her quality of singing live to be a noticeable downgrade from the studiom suggesting she needs a lot of autotuing. Nonethteless, she has good songs and woudl be a welcomed addition.
January 25, 2021 @ 6:23 pm
No disrespect to Carly.
Not sure where to comment on Tami Nielson’s Call Your Mama, from the ticker tape.
Tami’s Powerhouse voice on this song, reminds me so much of Aretha, singing Pink Cadillac.
Getting ready to go back & forth between the 2 songs now
January 25, 2021 @ 6:52 pm
How is Miranda not an Opry member?
January 25, 2021 @ 7:00 pm
When was the last time she even played at the Opry? She really doesn’t seem to show a large interest in it.
January 25, 2021 @ 7:40 pm
Blake is a bitter man. There is no reason Miranda shouldn’t be a member. She said she wouldn’t turn it down and it would be a great honor in 2015.
January 25, 2021 @ 9:53 pm
Shelton has nothing to do with this. If she was truly interested she would go perform at the Opry. She lives in Nashville. And at one time she said she had no interest. If she changed her mind in 2015 then why hasn’t she shown interest in the Opry. Jamey Johnson truly supports it. He should be recognized.
January 25, 2021 @ 7:07 pm
Would anyone be upset if Jon Pardi was to be invited in the future??
He doesn’t play often but about twice a year seems the norm for him..
He’s played a couple times during the pandemic
January 25, 2021 @ 8:17 pm
I wouldn’t have a problem with Pardi.
January 25, 2021 @ 8:27 pm
Fyi, in a recent podcast, Pardi said Tequila little Time will be the final single off the Heartache Med album.
I would suspect a new lead single by the end of summer & maybe a new album by the end of the year.
2021 I predict is to be a great year for new music by many artists!!
North Woods Country
January 26, 2021 @ 8:19 am
But will Pardi continue to have artistic freedom? Heartache hasn’t sold as well as one would expect.
January 26, 2021 @ 2:25 pm
Good question. I would hope he will have continued freedom of sorts. He will likely have 3 hit radio singles off this album (Heartache med = #1, Ain’t Always = #2, & Tequila should be an easy summer #1 )
His streaming numbers are solid too. This album wasn’t as successful in sales as California Sunrise but it was definitely more critically claimed. It’s usually in the Top 30 County albums each week on Billboard which is decent these days.. Especially when you have every Combs, Stapleton, & Wallen album crowding the top..
January 25, 2021 @ 8:00 pm
Oh nope, she is not Opry material just cause she has played a number of times. She isn’t country & there are way more deserving artists.
January 26, 2021 @ 8:49 am
You people who say she isn’t country or other artists who aren’t fully traditional aren’t country make me laugh. You just show your ignorance of other genres. If you listened to pop, hip hop, or anything else you’d know she is not pop at all. She may not be traditional, but she’s not a pop artist masquerading as country. Get over it.
January 27, 2021 @ 2:26 pm
So cause I see it differently, I am ignorant? WOW Thanks for clearing that up for me. WHEW
January 25, 2021 @ 9:03 pm
I love her so, 👍👍👍
January 26, 2021 @ 7:17 am
Agree, Carly should be a member
January 26, 2021 @ 8:31 am
I’ve seen Carly live a couple of times and always enjoy her. I know she’s paid her dues since she was young but I really think she should have at least 1 solid at least mostly Country album to be considered in my opinion. Of course Big Machine will never let that happen. But hey, if Kelsea Ballerini can get in then by all means so should Carly. Of course Jon Pardi should be in as well, his songs that don’t make his albums are better than most peoples singles….LOL
Robert's Country Blog
January 26, 2021 @ 9:47 am
The “membership” deal is confusing. The Opry’s most recent hour-long show on the Circle Network featured zero Opry members and four guests. The actual Opry members were relegated to the non-televised portion of the live show. If “membership” is supposed to be the Opry’s highest honor, then the members should be the main ones on the show, while the guest performers should be the ones waiting in line and paying their dues to get to that level.
January 27, 2021 @ 5:15 am
Robert, you succinctly stated my thought as well. They relegate Jeannie Seely and Larry Gatlin and other legends to the non-televised portion, in favor of names no one has heard of. Reality is, the people who tune in are fans of the real stuff, they wanna see the legends.
I’m a fan of The Opry and will support it, so dont get me wrong, I see the challenges they face each week in trying to get top shelf talent to appear week after week. Folks like Jeannie Seely and John Conlee and Larry Gatlin have carried the load time after time, but honestly it would be nice to see other legends step up. George Strait anyone? Travis Tritt? Chris Stapleton? Dolly? Alabama? Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Gene Watson? Dwight Yoakam? Ronnie Milsap? John Anderson? Where are these folks? Covid concerns? I dunno, but I feel like the biggest names just dont support the Opry the way they should.
And what about the Ward Davis’s, Whitey Morgans, Cody Jinks and so on? Tyler Childers? Get these people on !
January 26, 2021 @ 1:32 pm
i can’t say that I understand the opry membership thing at all . but I understand my ear , after all of these years in the trenches and many of the ‘mainstream’ invitations seem far more calculated to target a youth market who have a new definition of ” country music” than to assure that the traditions of the genre are respected and preserved and promoted by REAL artists.
….and countless other ”newer” artists need to be acknowledged for their efforts to keep the traditions alive for a new audience growling progressively more ignorant of those traditions .
January 26, 2021 @ 1:58 pm
Excellent choices Albert.
January 26, 2021 @ 1:34 pm
January 26, 2021 @ 2:50 pm
I liked “growling” better.
You have a good and generous ear, Albert. I’d be more likely to throw bombs. Invite Tyler Childers, Corb Lund, Elizabeth Cook, Paul Thorn, Ashley MacBryde …
That is, be COUNTRY, not Country(TM).
January 26, 2021 @ 9:47 pm
Hold on , this is a psych out. they are going to reveal they meant the black chick. that is the only way it makes any sense.
January 28, 2021 @ 11:49 am
I vote for Charlie Worsham…He respects the past and honors the Opry.