Tenille Arts Spent the Pandemic in Love — and Watching 'Somebody Like That' Go to No. 1: 'I'm So Grateful'
"I feel lucky that I had something so exciting and so positive to think about throughout the last year," the country singer-songwriter tells PEOPLE. "It's been a very special time"
It took exactly 70 of the most tumultuous weeks of our collective lifetimes for Tenille Arts to snag a No. 1 hit amidst an ongoing pandemic with her single "Somebody Like That."
And it's going to take a lifetime for the country star to believe she did it.
"I don't even know how this happened but I'm so grateful," Arts, 27, tells PEOPLE of the song that made major history, serving as the longest chart run for a female act in the history of the Mediabase/Country Aircheck charts. "I feel lucky that I had something so exciting and so positive to think about during the pandemic and throughout the last year. It's been a very special time."
And now, she's ready to embark on yet another chart ride, as the Canadian born songstress officially releases her follow-up single "Back Then, Right Now," a lyrical joyride of a song that makes nostalgia sound so very sweet.
"I can't wait to see what the success of 'Somebody Like That' means going forward in my career and with my next single and everything," she says of the song that she believes "people need right now." Arts adds, "I'm very excited."
Indeed, it's a precious time in the life and career of Arts, who first found her way to Nashville as a teenager looking for someone to listen to her song. And while she introduced herself to radio stations across the country a couple of years before the pandemic hit, she admits to not being entirely sure if those radio execs would ultimately support "Somebody Like That."
"Thankfully, we had enough people out there that just kept on playing 'Somebody Like That' on the radio from day one," remembers Arts, who is now the first Canadian to reach No. 1 in the U.S. since 2007 and the first Canadian female since Terri Clark did it in 2004. "They didn't have to do that. They could have played it for a year and decided that they didn't want to keep this up. But they wanted to see this story happen. They wanted to see these females succeed."
It was an all-female trio of dream makers made up of Arts and fellow songwriters Allison Cruz and Alex Kline who made "Somebody Like That" the historic song it ended up being, with Kline also producing the track, making her the first solo female producer to have a No. 1 single at country radio.
"It was on a Sunday morning at the end of April when we found out we officially had a number one, and that night, we went to Alison's house to celebrate with a small number of people who we felt comfortable with."
And, then they took a picture.
"It was our first picture together!" laughs Arts, referring to the lockdown situation they all found themselves within during the song's run to No. 1. "It was even more special because Allison just had had a baby too, so we got to see her little daughter at the same time."
Arts also celebrated the milestone with a special man in her life.
"It's so funny because everyone thinks we are married, but we are not," admits Arts of Tyler Corrado, her boyfriend of nearly two years. "Every time someone brings up marriage, he's like, 'It's coming, just stop bringing it up.' We are kind of two peas in a pod. We do everything together. Going back on the road (with Lady A) later this year is going to be a little bit of a shock for us I bet, because we are so used to always being together."
The only thing that would make Arts' life more perfect at the moment is the chance to share these accomplishments with the family who has supported her since she was just a little girl singing at the kitchen table at her childhood home small prairie town of Weyburn, Saskatchewan.
"In Canada, they are still very locked down," Arts explains. "Vaccines have been slow, so it's been very difficult. These severe lockdowns make traveling nearly impossible, so yeah, I miss them a whole lot." She pauses. "My older sister just had a baby, so hopefully I will get to meet that baby soon."
Of course, there is one more arrival that Arts is looking forward to, in the form of a new album.
"This album has me looking back, doing a lot of songs I wish I had when I was a teenager," she concludes. "It touches on a lot of life topics that I don't think are touched on enough in country music. I'm just feeling very comfortable and open and vulnerable right now. This is some of my most favorite music I have ever made."
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