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Carly Pearce had an incredible year in 2017. She scored her first No. 1 hit, released her first album, performed at the Grand Ole Opry, walked the red carpet at the CMA Awards and, although so many moments top her list, we know this one does, too.

It’s the moment she got to sing the national anthem in her home state at the big basketball showdown between the Kentucky Wildcats and the Louisville Cardinals to close out 2017.

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Now, for some people, this might seem like just another game. But this is Kentucky we’re talking about, and if you know anything about Kentuckians, you know that Wildcat basketball is the biggest deal around.

The team is universally recognized as one of the finest in the country, and the team to beat if you want to call yourself the best.

So, an invitation to Rupp Arena to sing our nation’s anthem before a game is a big, big deal, and this rising country newcomer absolutely nailed the opportunity.

Dressed in her Kentucky blue, she took her time, and her rich alto voice rang out through the arena. It was reverent, and heartfelt and fabulous.

The crowd thought so, too, and went wild after she finished the performance.

Now, there were some other moments that ranked right up there with Carly this year.

Along the way, she got to travel the country promoting her music with her best friends …

She got to sing with one of her idols and meet a few others …

Yes, y’all, that’s Reba and Dolly, and it’s extra sweet for Carly because she used to sing in the shows at the latter’s Dollywood theme park! Talk about a full circle, perfect moment.

And she even got a plaque from her record label celebrating her very first No. 1 song, which was her debut single, “Every Little Thing.”

“Final highlight of 2017,” she write on Instagram. “On New Year’s Eve last year, I wrote, ‘Thank you for giving my country music dreams wings.’ Little did I know 365 days later, I’d have my very first #1 song and a day given to me by my hometown. Thank you for the best year of my life.”

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As good as 2017 was to Carly, we think 2018 is going to be even better! We can’t wait to see what this talented beauty does next.

This rising country newcomer absolutely nails the national anthem Instagram/@carlypearce
Samantha Stephens absolutely lives for music. When she's not making it, she's talking or writing about it. She's worked in all arenas of the country music world for nearly a decade, from syndicated radio and television to print journalism. She's even been known to crash a red carpet or two, true story.
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