On Tuesday (Sept. 13), the 2022 ACM Honors ceremony will hit the small screen, airing on FOX for the very first time. That's a big step forward for show host Carly Pearce, who says that even though she hosted the ACM Honors in 2021, too, helming a special for television broadcast poses special, interesting challenges.

"I mean, being the host of a major network awards show is a little scary, but I think it added a level of pressure that was good for me," Pearce tells Taste of Country. "I like to kinda shock the system a little bit, and this is something that I've really wanted to tap into — the hosting thing."

Pearce returns to host the ACM Honors in 2022 with another new distinction, too: She's the reigning ACM Female Artist of the Year. That's just one benchmark for the success she's achieved over the past couple of years, also including a Grand Ole Opry membership invite (from none other than Dolly Parton) and her biggest album to date with the release of 29: Written in Stone.

"As my career has kind of started an upward trajectory over the past few years, I've really raised my hand, saying, 'This is something I really want to do,'" Pearce explains of her hosting duties. "So it was a really fun challenge for me."

Plus, the awards show presented a chance for Pearce to be a part of an event that she describes as "a great night of artists taking on different artists' music," she continues, insisting "and I'm not just saying this!" The show is packed with standout moments: From Brooks & Dunn and Little Big Town's tributes to show honoree Miranda Lambert to Vince Gill's powerful interpretation of a Chris Stapleton song, Pearce says this year's ACM Honors show is packed with can't-miss moments.

Two of the honorees — Lambert and Shania Twain — are special heroes for her, too, as women in country music who have used sharp songwriting as the foundation for their careers. Of course, songwriting is a fundamental tenet of Pearce's own work, and she describes both Twain and Lambert as "trailblazers" for her musical path.

"Just seeing these powerful women who have built their brands on not caring what anyone else thought — they were just unapologetically themselves," she continues. "Shania being the first one to really push the envelope visually, which I think has in return really inspired a lot of the rest of us ... True trailblazers of the females of country music were honored that night, and I think that was a powerful moment."

Much has changed — and much hasn't — for women in country music since artists like Twain first made their marks on the industry. Pearce says that in the 13 years she's been in Nashville pursuing country music, she's seen a shift towards a focus on artist identity over radio hits.

"We're in a much different place, where people really do buy into the artist much more than I feel like they did before, when they were just chasing hits," the singer points out. "And sure, there are people who have hits that are kind of faceless, and can all go into this pool. But I don't think that as a woman, you can do that."

That's not to disrespect male artists. Pearce explains that all the artists being celebrated at the ACM Honors — including Stapleton and Morgan Wallen — have strong, powerful senses of self.

"I think there's a lot of incredible male artists. I mean, Morgan Wallen is arguably the biggest artist in the world at the moment. But he's a true artist," she reflects. "You have to know who you are. You have to have a distinction."

Despite the fact that her star is ever-rising in the country music industry, Pearce says she still has an up-and-comer's mentality. She thinks that's a good thing: After all, if you ever feel comfortable or settled in your career, it might be time to raise your ambitions. Still, as she looks ahead to being the host of an awards show airing on a major television network for the first time, she can't help but express some astonishment.

"It still just feels so crazy that all this has happened to me," she admits. "I still feel a little bit like the girl that just moved to Nashville and wants somebody to take notice of her."

ACM Honors 2022 airs on FOX on Tuesday (Sept. 13) beginning at 8PM ET.

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