Singer Jillian Cardarelli left the Newport (R.I.) Yachting Center, where she opened for Willie Nelson earlier in the evening, and along with some family and friends walked to a local restaurant for a late dinner.
Not long after being seated, Cardarelli and her party were approached by a thrilled staff member.
“Did you perform in Connecticut about a month ago?” the young man asked.
“Yes, I did,” Cardarelli said.
“I was there. You were amazing!” he told her.
Two-and-a-half hours from her Haverhill home and more than 150 miles from where that show took place, Cardarelli had found one of her fans.
A picture was taken; an autograph signed; and more evidence was amassed: People are discovering Jillian Cardarelli.
The 20-year-old Haverhill native and Nashville-based artist’s stock has been on the rise during a recent hot streak that has seen her opening for two of the biggest acts in the history of country music.
In June, she took the stage before 10-time Grammy winner Willie Nelson. And in April and May, she opened for Alabama, recently voted the best country band of all time by tasteofcountry.com.
“A year ago, I never would have imagined this,” Cardarelli said. “I have to think to myself, ‘Is this really happening?’”
It’s all very surreal, she said.
“Willie Nelson is an icon. I listen to his records all the time. Everyone in country music bows down to Willie Nelson,” she said. “I never dreamed in a million years that I would be opening for him.”
Cardarelli, who is as comfortable performing a rousing rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” as she is delivering the smooth vocals required for Ashley Monroe’s “She’s Driving Me Out Of Your Mind,” has dreamed of being a singer and songwriter since she was a child.