Holler Country Music
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In Focus: Lily Pearl Black

By Alison Bonaguro

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Five facts about Lily Pearl Black

1. She's 21 years old

2. Her debut EP Songs from the Mostly Hits & The Mrs. Tour is out now, featuring a brand-new song, plus her live covers of Carrie Underwood’s ‘Cry Pretty’ and Randy Newman’s ‘Every Time It Rains'

3. Morgan Wallen's Dangerous double album is her current go-to

4. She lives in the very same Nashville apartment where her dad lived 30 years ago - where he penned his hit 'Like the Rain'

5. Her high school Rock Band class was packed with the kids of some of country music’s biggest names.

Meet Lily Pearl Black. You already know her dad, country legend Clint Black. And her mom, actor/singer Lisa Hartman Black. But now’s your chance to get to know country music’s latest up-and-comer and one of Holler’s 23 Artists for 2023.

Just ahead of her first show of the year, Black sat down with Holler in Nashville to talk about what led her here, and where she’s heading next.

Growing up, did you know that your mom and dad were household names? Because by the time you were born, your dad had already had about 30 Top 10 hits.

My childhood was pretty normal, to be honest. I don’t think I really understood it until I was older and had friends asking me about it. My parents did a really great job staying humble and truly so down to earth. I know I’m biased, but they are both so good at keeping it real. And they were adamant about not taking things of granted, and always being grateful for what we have.

So when you say that you came to understand the Black family fame when you were older, how did that epiphany happen?

When I was in middle school and high school, I’d go to friends’ houses and their families would be up at 6 a.m. going to work. And I’d wonder, “What are they doing?” My dad’s normal schedule was that he’d be up working until 3 a.m. and then sleep until noon. I got very used to that clock. So when I’d be at a friend’s for a sleepover and her parents were up and cooking breakfast at 7 a.m., that was so strange.

And once you did figure it out, was it obvious that you’d follow in your dad’s country music footsteps?

Well even before that, from when I was about five years old, I was always singing around the house. When I saw my dad’s shows, I thought, “I love that.” It felt kind of natural.

I finally got to perform for a crowd when I was 16, at one dad’s shows, and I was so scared at soundcheck - I started crying, thinking I couldn’t do it. My dad said, “If this is what you want to do, you’re gonna do it and you’re gonna love it. You’re gonna have the nerves, but you’ll get through it. If this isn’t what you want to do, that’s okay, just make that decision. Are you gonna regret it if you don’t do this show?”

At high school you were in a class called Rock Band. Did you ever think about pursuing that path and starting an actual rock band?

Not really. You were allowed to pick whatever song you wanted to do in any genre. And I was in the class with so many kids of country singers: Corrina Gill (Vince and Amy Gill), Audrey McGraw (Tim McGraw and Faith Hill), AnnaBelle Cash (Johnny Cash’s granddaughter,) and Jude Maloy (Zac Maloy). It was so much fun with that whole group because we had all the freedom to do what songs we chose.

But I didn’t listen to much country back then. Even though I loved my dad’s music, I was determined to be separate from that. Until one day, I was riding with a friend to the river in the summer, and she was playing her country music. That’s when I got hooked. Singing those country songs vocally just felt better that singing pop songs.

And were you also able to use lessons you’d learned from you dad to get your career off to the best start?

I think so. Especially because his most important lesson was about vocal discipline. My dad’s been drilling that into me forever. It’s so easy to get out on the road and talk and laugh for hours. But with a vocalist, you have to take such good care of your voice. Just like with sports. If you break a leg, you’d have to stay off of it and you can’t play. It’s the same with your vocal cords. If you damage them, you’re done. Out of the show. He’d always say that I need to shut up (in a nice way), do vocal warm ups, rest my voice, get enough sleep, eat well and drink water.

Father knows best. Especially yours. What else did your parents teach you about the road ahead?

They always said that you have to know what you’re going into. That’s why I took music business classes at Belmont University. You have to be able to manage all the things that are going on around you. That way, if there’s ever something that goes wrong, you can recognize and address it. It doesn’t feel like you’re the boss out there when you’re singing and having fun, but you are. You are in charge. My dad showed me that.

What are some of the ways you think you take after your dad?

His sense of humor - he can stand up and make a whole room laugh. I don’t think I’m that funny, but I hope I take after him that way. My mom jokes that with us around it’s like having two kids in the house, and my dad jokes that I’m the son he never had.

But I do wish I was more like him when it comes to focusing on one thing at a time; he’s a lot better at that than I am. I’m a little more scattered. We’ve been talking about that lately, especially when it comes to songwriting. He’s so good at sitting down and writing and finishing a song. I’m good at coming up with ideas I write down, but then I get a different idea, and I never end up finishing any of them. I have a hard time sticking with an idea, and that’s what he’s so good at: focusing on what’s in front of him.

Well to be fair, he’s had a lot more practice. He might not have been quite so laser-focused back when he wrote 'A Better Man' in 1988, at the start of his career. But he did maintain his goal of always writing his own songs.

That’s my goal, too. Eventually I want to have all of my songs either written by me or co-written by me, like my dad always does. I’ve been working on that. I wrote one song with my dad, and it was cool for me to see how his brain works in that way; I rarely get to see that side. But he’s made it clear that if you don’t see a song through, you’re quitting on yourself. I’ve worked hard to convince myself that the first draft is not going to be the final draft.

I know there are probably too many to list, but what are some of your favorite songs of your dad’s?

'Nothing's News', 'Money or Love', 'Loosen Up My Strings', 'Nothin’ But the Taillights' and 'Like the Rain'.

In fact, the apartment I live in right now is the exact same one my dad lived in when he wrote 'Like the Rain'. That was 30 years ago. The building had two units available, and the one I chose – unintentionally - was the one where he was sitting in the window in the living room writing that song. We checked the records with the manager and sure enough it was the exact same unit.

What artists have had an impact on you and your music?

Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Carly Pearce, Morgan Wallen, HARDY, Luke Combs and so many more.

And if you could fill an entire show with modern country cover songs, what would that setlist look like?

'Tin Man' (Lambert)

'Temporary Home' (Underwood)

'The Kind of Love We Make' (Combs)

'Cry Pretty' (Underwood)

'Kerosene' (Lambert)

'Give Heaven Some Hell' (HARDY)

'Peter Pan' (Kelsea Ballerini)

'What He Didn’t Do' (Pearce)

'Bandaid on a Bullet Hole' (Wallen)

'Sand in My Boots' (Wallen)

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Lily Pearl Black's EP Songs from the Mostly Hits & The Mrs. Tour is out now.