"If I'm proof of anything, it's that a song can change everything," a teary-eyed Carly Pearce told a room full of family, friends and colleagues who gathered to celebrate her first No. 1 single, "Every Little Thing," recently.

They were happy tears, and they are warranted. Pearce's chart-topping debut single was a culmination of nine years in Nashville, during which she constantly hear the word "no." Finally, she found her footing with this raw, intrinsically authentic ballad.

Pearce knew the "haunting" song was special the day she co-wrote it with Emily Shackelton and Busbee, recalling when a member of her team affirmed that she finally found her three minutes and the radio programmer who asked her if she was ready for her life to change.

"I don't think that there would be any other song that would have as much meaning to me — it's so special," Pearce tells Taste of Country and other media of the impact of having "Every Little Thing" be her first No. 1. "This song is me as an artist in every single capacity and tells a story that I feel so deeply is part of my story."

Like many young artists, Pearce was hungry for success early on in her career — a time which included a stint at Dollywood after she dropped out of high school in pursuit of her dreams. But it was the endless roadblocks and years of struggle that really force Pearce to feel the victory of achieving a dream she's had for so long.

"I think that it's so easy to in the moment wonder why things aren't happening for you and in hindsight, I understand exactly why," she explains. "I needed to figure out who I was as an artist and do a lot of things on my own to understand what a career means as far as being one of the artists in the country music industry."

As a new female artist in the genre releasing a piano ballad in the middle of the summer, Pearce originally felt it was "career suicide." Instead, "Every Little Thing" earned the young singer the highest-charting solo debut from a female artist since July of 2015. She's one of only three women in the past 12 years to achieve this, and she was the only solo female country act in 2017 to earn gold certification with her debut single.

"It's better," she gleefully describes of actually achieving a No. 1 song, comparing it to the fantasy of getting that chart-topping hit.

"I don't think that you can ever really prepare yourself for something like this. It's surpassed all of my wildest dreams and I'm so grateful I didn't get it at 21, because now I can appreciate it a lot more," she adds. "It all happened, from the production to the writing to the record deal, in the way that I wanted to come out as an artist and I think that very few artists get to say that. I'm very proud that my career exploded because of a song that was 100 percent me."

Pearce is gearing up for a noteworthy summer out on the road with Luke Bryan's What Makes You Country XL Tour alongside Sam Hunt, Jon Pardi and Morgan Wallen.

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