At the young age of fifteen Knoxville native Kelsea Ballerini moved to Nashville to dedicate her life to her music career.
When it came time for college Ballerini chose the small private Christian school in Nashville, Lipscomb, to stay close to her music. After two years of school, Kelsea dropped out of school to make her first album in 2015, The First Time, with Black River Entertainment.
Now she's 23 years-old, engaged to Australian country music singer-songwriter, Morgan Evans, and has a brand new album on the way.
Kelsea has her finger on the pulse of the country music scene. She's already been nominated for a Grammy, toured with Thomas Rhett, buddy-buddy with Taylor Swift, featured on a Jason Aldean song, performed with Shania Twain at Stage Coach Music Festival and currently is touring with Lady Antebellum on their You Look Good World Tour.
She's done more for her music career in the past four years than artists her senior have done in their whole lives. To say the least, Kelsea Ballerini is no average twenty-something and she is keeping herself very busy.
CL caught up with her before the show, and you can read our chat below. Get details on the show via local.cltampa.com.
How are you doing?
So good, I’m actually on the tour bus right now in Ohio but um, our air conditioning is currently out. It is really a sweaty one [laughs].
First of all congrats on being engaged, and congrats are in order to your fiancé, Morgan, on releasing his first American single today. I saw you post a congratulations on your Instagram earlier.
Yeah, I’m so happy for him. He’s been working so hard. It’s awesome.
Speaking of Instagram, what kind of wine are you tipping in that Instagram photo from the new album photoshoot?
[Laughs} Rosé. Rosé all day!
I’m 20 and I have to ask, do you think you’re a little young to be getting married?
Aw man, I think if you would’ve asked me two years ago before I met Morgan that I would be married at 23, then I would’ve laughed. Honestly, it’s kind of so cheesy because everyone says ‘when you know, you know’ and it’s totally true. So, I really would’ve married him a month after knowing him.
I was also a huge Jonas Brothers fan growing up. So to say the least I was relieved when I read we weren’t going to have to fight over Joe. How does Morgan feel about this whole Nick Jonas thing now that it’s getting out there? Is he your cheat pass?
It’s really funny because for the longest time I considered him my ‘celebrity crush’ and it’s so weird now because we've become friends and I’m engaged. He met Morgan and we’re all friends. It’s actually not awkward at all.
You talk about seeing your band as much as seeing your fiancé and the importance of maintaining a bond with them. Is it hard to always approach that relationship positively all the time or do you have an easy time getting along with everyone?
Well, I’m on the road with my band and we have been on the road for two weeks now. We literally see each other all the time, like as much as we see each other’s husbands and wives and families. I mean there are definitely the days where we will just give each other a wave and you’re like ‘I don’t want to talk to ya’. It’s so important to surround yourself with people you enjoy spending time with. Especially because I spend like, an hour on stage and the rest of it off and you have to make sure you are comfortable with these people as people, not just as musicians. I have the most amazing band and crew we love each other.
I read that Flava Flav inspired you to write “Yeah Boy" — do you have some deep down love for hip-hop we need to know about?
I listen to everything, but I really do love rap. When I listen to the other genres I get a better perspective. I think that it makes me a better songwriter.
Who’s on your songwriting wish list?
Ryan Tedder from One Republic. I love the band, but Ryan is a songwriter and wrote “If I Were A Boy.” He has written so many amazing and iconic songs that aren’t One Republic songs, which is awesome.
What’s the pressure like being an opener on this tour? Do you have a persona to get through the anxiety that sometimes comes with performing?
There’s not really any pressure. Y’know? My job is to get people dancing and excited for Lady ‘A’. So I go out there, I try to introduce myself, I play the four singles that hopefully people know and then I play some covers. I just try to have a high energy set so people feel awake and ready to go party with Lady ‘A’.
I feel like I just get to amplify my personality. I get to wear things that I wouldn’t get to wear off stage and I get to move around and like, strut! It’s really fun to just amplify yourself. I’m such a girly-girl I love clothes and fashion and stuff so that is definitely a perk of the job.
Do you have a tomboy side at all? You’re from Tennessee you have to at least own a pair of cowboy boots?
I do not own a pair of cowboy boots. I love being comfortable, cut-offs, jeans, all of that stuff. I don’t know, I’m just not a boot-wearer.
Taylor Swift gets a lot of criticism in the press. You have a good relationship with her to say the least. What is it about Taylor that the haters just don’t get?
I think whether you are in the spotlight or not, people will talk bad about you. That’s just human nature. But I think because she is literally the most famous person in the world that the people that talk bad about her are just amplified. She’s a great person and I think that the people that talk bad about her are probably just jealous.
Do you regret not finishing your education at Lipscomb? What do you think would be different now if you did?
Not at all. Yeah, I don’t regret it at all. I went for two years and I took classes in marketing and communications, they have helped me a lot launching a career. I feel like especially in the creative field whether it’s music or any kind of art your education should be going out there and pursuing it and gaining experience. But I do think I really did learn a whole lot the two years that I was there. I’m just really glad that I left and went out and got my hands dirty.
Are there any creative compromises someone has to make as they start to make their way through the Nashville industry machine?
Creative compromises…I’m sure people do. But if you want to be an artist then the whole point of it all is to not compromise your art and finding out who you are and what you want to say and sticking to it.
Do you think you have been successful with that so far in your career?
When I first got to Nashville, I didn’t do that and that’s part of the reason it didn’t work out for me for a while. I was fifteen and I tried to write songs that would be on the radio. But the truth was that songs that sounded exactly like mine we’re already on the radio. So I had to go away and figure out what my voice was and that is when I figured out exactly what I wanted to do.
Growing up definitely had a lot to do with that.
Totally! I think my music changed as I became older and even from my last album to this next one there’s a different writing style and different perspective as I grow up and I wanna make sure that I write about that. I wrote my last record when I was 19 years-old. I’m 23 now, my life is a lot different.
In a recent interview with GQ you said that people have told you in the past an artist's sophomore album is the most important in their career. Do you agree with this, if so, is your upcoming album going to be far better than the last?
Yeah I think this one is super important. We’ve had more opportunities than we could've ever imagined with the first one. We had four singles and just had an amazing time with it. So I think the second one is really just like, are we going to be able to keep doing that or is this where is slows down? Or is this where it speeds up and you just wonder. But everything is done and going to iTunes very soon. I made an album that I’m proud of and that I would listen to and that’s really all I can ever do, so I’m excited to see what people think of it.
No exact date announced yet, right?
No, sorry I should've specified, the album.
Oh [laughs]. We haven’t announced it yet, but we’re going to announce it next week on GMA.