If Carly Pearce's breakout success with her hit single "Every Little Thing" has taught the country star anything, it's that sometimes taking a big risk can deliver a big payoff.

"If you think about it, a heartbreak ballad, coming out in the middle of summer, from a new female artist -- it sounds like career suicide," she reflected during a press conference before her party to celebrate that song topping the Billboard country charts.

"I've been to so many No. 1 parties over the past nine years," Pearce adds. "I've always thought, 'What would mine be like?' I don't think there's any song that could be more special [than "Every Little Thing"], because through and through, this song tells a story that I feel so deeply is part of my life."

As she reflects on the unlikely but resounding success of the single, Pearce acknowledges that it isn't the first time she has bet on herself, and her career, in the face of slim odds. Like so many other aspiring artists, Pearce had to make some tough life decisions in order to pursue her dream.

"If I didn't think it might happen one day, I wouldn't have convinced my parents to let me quit high school to go to Dollywood," she says. The singer cut her teeth performing onstage six days a week. "When I was nine or 10 years old, I started begging my parents to let me go and chase the dream fully. Yes, there were things about being a teenager that I missed out on, but I've always wanted to do this."

This year, those dreams came to fruition with the artist's first ACM nomination, in the category of New Female Vocalist of the Year.

"When it happened, I was on a flight, and I screamed really loud," Pearce recalls. "To have had the year that I'd already had, and then to have [an ACM nomination] on top of that, is just insane to me. To be recognized by the ACMs as someone worthy of that is just really special."

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