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Kelsea Ballerini Makes History in Country Music

Mar 02, 2017 04:00PM ● By Nicole Gould

Photo by Guerin Blask

At 23-years-old, Tennessee native Kelsea Ballerini has continued to soar through the country music charts. With her humble attitude and outgoing persona, Ballerini has quickly become a country favorite, becoming the first women to reach #1 with her first three consecutive singles from her debut album, The First Time.

The 12 track GOLD-certified album started building success for Ballerini after the release of three consecutive #1 singles, “Love Me Like You Mean It,”, “Peter Pan”, and “Dibs”. Her most recent single from the album, “Yeah Boy” continues to climb through country radio.

Following Florida Georgia Lines 18-week reign at #1 with “H.O.L.Y”, Ballerini’s “Peter Pan” earned double #1’s on Billboard topping the Hot Country Songs chart. Adding on to her successful career, Ballerini was named 2016 New Female Vocalist of the Year at the American Country Music Awards and “Breakout Artist of the Year” for the second time at the seventh annual CMT Artists of the Year Awards.

“I pictured my life as a successful artist that I always dreamt about and it’s hard until you’re in it. That being said, I’m still new and in the beginning stage. There is still so much I want to do and grow into. When we were dreaming big about this album, I don’t know if we dreamt this big.” 
Kelsea Ballerini

Ballerini most recently won Best New Country Artist at the iHeartRadio Music awards. She is also nominated for all-genre Best New Artist. Tune in Sunday, March 5th, 8 p.m. to catch all the nominations.

Get your tickets now to see Kelsea Ballerini as part of Thomas Rhett’s HOME TEAM Tour Friday, March 10th, 7 p.m. at Royal Farms Arena. Tickets range from $22–293.

Photo by David O'Donohue


What was it like going from Kelsea Ballerini, your average college student to Kelsea Ballerini, country music sensation? How would you say your life has changed?

I feel like everything has changed, it really has. I’m super busy, in the best way. Every day I’m either doing a show, doing a writing session, or making my album. Everyday I’m getting to do something to work towards being the artist I want to be. I was definitely not able to do that a couple years ago, that’s probably the biggest change. There’s been an opportunity every day to be an artist.

How did it feel finding out that you were the first female artist to hit #1 on the Billboard Country charts with your first three singles, “Love Me Like You Mean It”, “Peter Pan”, and “Dibs”?

That’s so hectic. I didn’t know that until after it happened. If anyone came to me and said, “Hey Kelsea, if ‘Peter Pan’ goes No.1, you’re going to make history,” I would have had a full-on panic attack. I think it’s crazy. I think it’s amazing and it makes me want to keep that relationship with the radio so solid. The fact they embrace those songs like they have is really special and not too common. It’s a really important relationship to me.

Can you tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind your debut album, The First Time? What has been your favorite part about creating this album? Did you ever imagine it would reach the level of success that is has? Are there any songs on the album that are a personal favorite and kind of got pushed out of the spotlight?

I feel like my album, The First Time, was an introduction. It was me kind of explaining myself from 12 years old when I first started to 21 when I released it. Covering every part of me from first relationship, first heart break, feeling insecure in myself, growing up, being underage, parents splitting up, all of that in that record and an overview of my life. It was a really cool introduction. If you listen to it top to bottom, you pretty much know me and that was my goal with it.

I think when you make it, you always hope. You always want that positive energy on it. When we were making it, we were very hopeful. The reality of it was, I was a no name artist on an independent label and chicks weren’t on the radio unless you were Carrie or Miranda and the odds were super stacked against us. We were really proud of the music we were making and believed in it, but also very aware of the situation. We were hopeful, but also knew it wasn’t going to be easy. And it wasn’t easy and it worked.

There’s a song called “Secondhand Smoke”. I wrote it about my parents splitting. I sang it live one time and bawled. Even though it’s track number seven, it’s a really important song to me. Kind of the sneaky one.

Let’s talk a little more about your most recent single, “Yeah Boy”. You recently released the video for the song back in December. Can you tell me a little more about that video and why you went in the direction that you did?

We haven’t done a video that was artsy and fun. “Love Me Like You Mean It” was very girl next door. It had my best friend and my dog in it. The storyline was very warm and friendly. This video was live on the road and “Peter Pan” was cinematic and movie esque. I wanted to do something very studio centric, bright, and happy to match the vibe of the song. Something more artistic.

You’re only 23 years old and already you’ve already made a huge statement in the country world. What’s it like when you hear one of your songs on the radio? Did you ever imagine your life being at the point it is right now and being so successful in the country music industry?

It’s so weird. People think that I hear it all the time and I really don’t. I think I’ve heard “Yeah Boy” twice and I freak out every time. I mean it’s not ever going to be normal to be to listening to Luke Bryan and here the radio host introduce new comer, Kelsea Ballerini. I’m like, hey, that’s me!

I pictured my life as a successful artist that I always dreamt about and it’s hard until you’re in it. That being said, I’m still new and in the beginning stage. There is still so much I want to do and grow into. When we were dreaming big about this album, I don’t know if we dreamt this big.

Photo by Guerin Blask


What’s it like to go from opening for Rascal Flatts to headlining your own tour? What are you looking forward to most joining Thomas Rhett on his HOME TEAM tour?

It’s really awesome! It’s been cool to be put in all those different situations. When I was with the Rascal Flatts crowd, other than my singles on the radio, most people didn’t know me. It was this challenge every night to go play for someone else’s crowd and try to win them over. Every night it taught me to be a better performer. I wanted to leave the stage and have someone who didn’t know me want to get my record. That was my goal every night. It was a challenge.

As a headliner, you have people that not only had your record and sing the words, but they’re also the people that call into the radio stations, tweet your lyrics, they’re the big ones, the ones that made all this happen. They cause the noise. That was a really special thing to do.

Thomas Rhett and I have very similar audiences. I think it’s going to be a really fun tour.

Outside of touring, what are some of your favorite things to do? Is there something not many people know about you?

I really love music! It’s my job, but it’s also my hobby and passion and what I spend my spare time doing regardless. But, I love being home. I’m such a homebody, whenever I can be home and hang with friends, see my dog, or my mom. It’s kind of my other life.