A Song for Everyone who Loves a “Military Man”- Pearl Clarkin

Pearl Clarkin began performing live music venues at the age of 12 in her home town of Pensacola Beach, Florida. She is an acclaimed songwriter and has performed many times on the circuit in Nashville at venues such as The Bluebird Cafe, The Listening Room Cafe, and any of the Nashville hot spots for originals and showcases.

She serves as an advocate for equality for women in country music and fronts the all-female band Rhinestone.

Clarkin on “Military Man: This song is very personal to me, as it’s a part of my life I have not always talked about. The pain of watching your loved ones suffer from war is tough, but the pride and love that you have for the person who served overpowers the struggle. I decided to write a song for those wives, daughters, sons, uncles, best friends, etc. of a military man. If you love your military man, this song was written for you.”

What was it like the first time you played “Military Man” for your parents?

Momma was the one when I was young and torn up about dad going away in a uniform that used the words “you can love the solider and hate the war.” I was the little girl that was so sensitive that I didn’t watch violence on TV or movies and would burst out in tears if anyone ever even looked like they wanted to argue, much less fight. So the concept of war was way, way out there where people kill each other. It was such a conflict for me and it stuck with me all those years. The day came when I wanted to write a song for dad — so, I did and sang it for mom and she smiled and asked me how in the world I could remember that conversation. I told her, how could I ever forget it. I told myself that a million times growing up. I’m so proud of dad — he is a hero in my eyes.

Which artists/songs did your dad listen to while deployed?

Dad says that while serving in the Middle East, they did not want the American soldiers to play music. He was happy when he had a chance to get back on the ship for some Johnny Cash.

Playing the song live for Guitars For Vets. Any stories to share from the show in Pensacola?

I enjoyed this particular show so very much. The room was packed full of veterans. It’s always such a special moment when I get to play a song for these strong, strong individuals and they start out hooting and hollering in the middle of my verses. My words hit them hard and reach deep as I sing on and by the end of the song there were big tough men crying all over the room — just crying and clapping so loud and proud. So much emotion released in three minutes and when I was done with that show I was engulfed in vets sharing their stories baring their souls. Guitars For Vets is a great program!

Summer plans. Besides the shows with Pensacola Beach’s Peg Leg Pete’s and Mobile, AL’s The Peoples Room of Mobile in June, any other ones tentatively on the calendar?

You will find me playing at Laguna’s Pensacola Beach, Paddy O’Leary’s Pensacola Beach and Bands on the Beach outdoor concert July 21st with my band Rhinestone.

Can you do a virtual tour of your spaceship party house concert venue for fans?

I always think I will do that, but you know how it goes when everyone is there…it’s so interactive and so many people asking questions all at the same time. There is something about that little spaceship that makes people get so excited and happy. It gets crazy! But, I am going to do a YouTube/TikTok series this summer for everyone to watch online, that will be filmed in the spaceship, with some of my music…it’s going to be pretty funny with aliens and all.

How does Waylon Jennings’ quote, “there’s always one more way to do things and that’s your way, and you have a right to try it at least once” influence your music, from writing to performing?

Waylon Jennings has always been a big inspiration to me and my music, the same way that artists like Dolly Parton have. They were both unapologetically themselves. I have a very different look and persona than what some executives in the music industry may agree with. I can’t tell you how many times people have told me “stay inside the lines” — but I won’t change who I am. When you think of an outlaw, you probably imagine a rootin’, tootin’, raggedy, rough looking man with a flask in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Waylon’s shaggy hair is not what makes him an outlaw, it was his perseverance to be himself against the pressure to conform to industry norms. That’s why Dolly Parton is an outlaw in my book. She was a pioneer of female empowerment. Unashamed to be beautiful, unafraid to push the limits of how we as women are supposed to dress ourselves, talk, and act. It’s so sad that simply being feminine can be such a scandal, but in the long term these heroes are revered and loved.

You’ve played a benefit show in the past for The Hamels Foundation. With schools closed during the pandemic, students and parents are all learning on their own. How has the Foundation supported distance learning during the quarantine?

Yes, Heidi Hamels is a good friend of mine, I met her while singing on The Hamels Foundation stage of a festival in Philadelphia. She has become not only a friend, but also a role model for me as I watch her being a boss business woman, a mother, a wife, keeping up with her own health and fitness, as well as all the charity work she does. I don’t know all the details about how the foundation works, but I do know that it changes lives and it is driven by Heidi’s beautiful heart.

The Hamels Foundation is a foundation that was created to help children’s education. They make an impact here in the United States as well as internationally. They research and identify potential programs and projects to receive funding within communities to support education. For example, they have $1.1 million in grants that have been awarded in Philadelphia, $450 thousand in grants in the Ozarks. Over 2000 students in north Texas have been impacted since 2016, and 118 projects and programs have been funded by The Hamels Foundation in the US since 2009.

During this Covid-19 crisis, they have stepped up in many ways — one example being their #give5foreducation campaign, where they have been providing relief for students like the children of East Elementary in Chicago. School closures resulting from the global health crisis has made this essential support difficult. East Elementary was providing meals to students daily, even sending meals home on weekends, with the schools being closed those children were going hungry so The Hamels Foundation stepped up to help provide food. That is just one thing that is included in their #give5foreducation campaign.

Your personal confession posted on Instagram on the very real family struggles with Covid 19. How are your parents and Rafe doing now?

Rafe was better quickly. Dad took about a month because it was in his lungs which are damaged from the war already from flying over burning oil fields and other chemicals he came in contact with. Surprisingly it hit mom so hard. There are things about Covid people don’t realize like strokes are an after effect. We are told Covid coagulates the blood and causes blood clots throughout the body. Mom had a stroke. She is struggling to recover and still having new complications. It is so scary I can’t think about without crying. I’ve been a wreck.

Your manager/brother Don was recently accepted as a CMA member as an artist manager after completing law school. With the music industry having to be more online than in person, how is he helping you plan the rest of 2020?

Oh my gosh…my brothers!!! What would I do without them? First, they are my bodyguards. They both workout. Don is 6’2” 200lbs. Rafe is 6’6” 200 lbs. I’m out in the public a lot and one of them is usually right there with me. Don is amazing. He took the maximum hours of law school his last semester. He wanted to take every class he could. He managed me, which takes a lot of work and time out of every day. He served as President of Belmont’s Entertainment Law Society. When it was all over he brought home all A’s and B’s for the semester and received a letter from CMA the day after finishing college saying he was accepted as an artist manager based on the great work he has done for me. He has worked so hard for all this these last 3 years. We work together every day on my music career. He’s really into the analytic side of the business — there is not much he doesn’t know about social media, streaming data and planning. And, hanging out with me, he has met almost everyone in the network. Don will be a success in the music biz. I’m so proud of him, can you tell?

Rafe and I started singing together during the pandemic. We put up a few videos up and everyone LOVED them. Several people in the biz took their time to contact us and tell us we would be just about the only brother sister duo in country music if we continued. Right now, I sing with my band Rhinestone. It’s Pearl and the Rhinestones, so I told Rafe he and I could make a side band together. We have written some great songs already…why not record and see where it goes and our band (named Wester)? We can also use Rhinestone as our band. My life is so full of music and happiness and family I am the most grateful person on the planet, seriously.

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