Carly Pearce Says 'Every Single Dream and More' Has Come True Ahead of Second Grammys Appearance (Exclusive)

The singer, who is nominated for best country duo/group performance, says the moment is "full circle" following her first appearance at last year's ceremony

<p>Carly Pearce/Instagram</p> Carly Pearce

Carly Pearce/Instagram

Carly Pearce

This year’s Grammy Awards is a “full circle” moment for Carly Pearce.

As she heads into her second consecutive year as a nominee — after taking home the trophy for best country duo/group performance with Ashley McBryde at last year’s ceremony — Pearce says she's looking forward to Sunday's festivities.

After all, it was a year ago that she connected with Chris Stapleton about duetting on her song "We Don't Fight Anymore" — a song which earned her another nomination in the same category this year.

“I found out that Chris was going to sing on it with me the night before I won my first Grammy,” Pearce, 33, tells PEOPLE. “So to see this all happen full circle, and to be headed there again, just as a nominee, but especially with this song is really exciting. I feel very, just, happy and ready for it.”

Related: What Chris Stapleton Brought to Their Duet, Says Carly Pearce, 'Blew My Mind' (Exclusive)

In addition to the Grammy Awards, Pearce has lots to look forward to this year.

Her next album is done, and while the musician hasn't revealed a release date yet, she’s dropped a few hints about what's in store.

<p>Christopher Polk/Variety via Getty</p> Chris Stapleton and Carly Pearce performing at the CMA Awards in November 2023

Christopher Polk/Variety via Getty

Chris Stapleton and Carly Pearce performing at the CMA Awards in November 2023

“Well, I have to say I gave clues to about three or four different events that are happening in my life, which is fun,” she says of a recent Instagram post which provoked guesses from fans ranging from a collaboration with Dolly Parton to the upcoming album’s name. “And people are really smart, I'll say that. And they will not have to wait much longer. I would say in the next couple months they'll know all the answers to the clues.”

The new album, she says, is a culmination of what life has brought her in the years since she released 29: Written in Stone — her 2021 album that chronicled her divorce from musician Michael Ray.

“Obviously it's been a really long time since I've released an album and so many things have happened kind of in front of people, but also privately that I've been holding back to share,” she says. “I think this is the most excited I've ever been to release music. And I wasn't quite sure I could say that after 29, but I really feel that way.”

And while it’s a big year for the country star, who’s speaking on PEOPLE’s Women in the Mix panel on Feb. 1 hosted in partnership with The Recording Academy and Sephora, she looks around and feels pride for the country music genre as a whole and the women who are making their marks.

“You're seeing women kind of take over country music right now and in a really authentic way,” she says. “In ways that everybody's kind of got their own lane, their own point of view.”

<p>Allister Ann</p> Carly Pearce

Allister Ann

Carly Pearce

“I've been doing this at this level for seven years, and I always kind of had a more optimistic outlook ... Women ruled the radio in the '90s for country music, and I felt like if we would start focusing on really the integrity of the music and the artistry that it would swing again in our favor,” she added.  “And I think you're seeing that right now with people like Lainey Wilson and Megan Moroney and just these females that are really dialed in on who they are.”

Related: Celebrating Women in Music All Year Long

And as far as her own career, Pearce says it’s all a dream come true.

“All little Carly ever wanted to do was country music,” she says when asked how her younger self would react to all she’s accomplished. “I always say it's the biggest blessing and the biggest curse to know what you want to do as a child, because ‘What if it doesn't work out?’ ‘What if it's not in the cards?’ But I would just tell her that every single dream and more that she ever wanted is going to come true. So buckle up, because it's pretty crazy."

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