HAVERHILL — She has sung as opening act for legends including Willie Nelson and country music chart-toppers like Dierks Bentley, and over the winter sold out her first official headlining show.
Now, Nashville singer/songwriter and Haverhill native Jillian Cardarelli is bringing her budding music career back to her roots.
Cardarelli will be performing in Newburyport as the featured act for Wednesday’s Yankee Homecoming Waterfront Concert festivities.
“I am so thrilled to be performing at Yankee Homecoming,” said the 21-year-old Cardarelli. “I remember going to the shows every year growing up with my friends. It makes me very nostalgic. It will be great to see a lot of friends and familiar faces from my childhood.”
Cardarelli is scheduled to hit the stage, which overlooks the water and boardwalk, for her Yankee Homecoming show at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 31.
The 90-minute set will include original songs written or co-written by Cardarelli such as “Worth the Whiskey,” which is a finalist for Country Song of the Year at the Independent Music Awards, her summertime anthem “Sunkissed Summer Nights” and the intensely personal “Everything but Me.” She will also cover songs by artists ranging from Miranda Lambert to Johnny Cash.
“I love having the chance to come home and perform for so many people,” said Cardarelli, who attended high school one town from Newburyport at Governor’s Academy in Byfield. “Yankee Homecoming has such a long tradition. I am so honored to be a part of it.”
The show in Newburyport is part of an extremely busy stretch for the singer.
Starting on Wednesday, she will be performing four shows in 11 days, including opening for “American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery at the Cape Cod Melody Tent and country superstar Lee Brice at the South Shore Music Circus.
“I am truly elated to have these opportunities,” said Cardarelli. “It is amazing to have the chance to share the stage with artists that I have admired and have been a fan of for years. It is an honor.”.
The chance to return home is a rare treat for Cardarelli, whose music career has taken her to the center of country music, Nashville, Tenn., where she has lived for nearly two years.
While pursuing her dream, Cardarelli is also enrolled as a student at Belmont College where she studies public relations, and has served as an intern at the iconic talent agency “William Morris Endeavor,” which represents the National Football League and countless high-profile clients from the Foo Fighters to Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.
“Nashville is an amazing place,” said Cardarelli. “Everyone has the same goals. You feel like you are on the same page as everyone, and they are very supportive. I love hearing country music on every street corner and at every ice cream shop and coffee shop every day.”
As her reputation has grown in Nashville, Cardarelli has earned the opportunity to open for major musical acts. Last summer, she opened for Willie Nelson and twice for the legendary country band Alabama. And her stock has continued to rise in 2014.
In June, Cardarelli opened for country superstar and Grammy Awards nominee Dierks Bentley, who has performed 11 songs that reached No. 1 on the country music charts, at the Newport Yachting Center in Newport, R.I.
A month earlier she was the opening act for the band Parmalee — whose single “Carolina” reached No. 1 on the country charts in 2013 — at The Asylum in Portland, Maine.
Following the Newburyport show she will be opening for McCreery on Aug. 1, then travel to Massapequa, N.Y. to open for Danielle Bradbery, 2013 winner of the NBC show “The Voice,” just one day later.
On Aug. 9, she will open for Lee Brice, who has three No. 1 country hits and written songs for prominent artists such as Garth Brooks and Tim McGraw.
“It is just beyond thrilling to share the stage with these artists,” she said. “I remember going to see Dierks Bentley open for Brad Paisley a few years ago, so to meet him and have him mention me during his show was the highlight of my career. I can’t wait to meet Scotty McCreery because we both love Elvis Presley.
“It has happened so fast, but it honestly all comes down to hard work and dedication. My father (Haverhill orthodontist Joe Cardarelli), has always told me that hard work and passion pay off. You have to open doors yourself. I am excited to see what the future holds.”
And that immediate future will take her close to home in Newburyport.
“I love seeing my home again and be back on familiar ground,” she said. “I am sure I will see people that I have not seen in years, and the chance to perform to close to home is an opportunity that does not come along often. I am thrilled.”
Follow David Willis on Twitter at @DWillisET.
Cardarelli comes to Newburyport
Who: Jillian Cardarelli, Haverhill native and Nashville-based singer/songwriter
What: Yankee Homecoming Waterfront Concert Series
When: Wednesday, July 30, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Waterfront Stage, Newburyport. Overlooking water and boardwalk, behind “Not Your Average Joe’s.”
Cardarelli at a glance: Emerging country music performer Cardarelli has opened for the likes of Willie Nelson, Dierks Bentley and the band Alabama and has dates this summer to perform with Lee Brice, Scotty McCreery and Danielle Bradbery. Cardarelli’s song “Worth the Whiskey” has been nominated for an Independent Music Award.