If not for Taylor Swift, Kelsea Ballerini might still have a regular job in east Tennessee, while dreaming about being a singer-songwriter. Instead, Swift became the beacon of light Ballerini followed to Nashville, determined that if Swift had found success in music, she could as well.
"I grew up loving music, but I never knew that you could just choose to be a singer like that," Ballerini told Women's Wear Daily. "I was from a small town in Knoxville so you grow up to be a vet or something that you see other people doing around you. And until I saw a girl named Taylor move to Nashville, I didn't know that I could do that."
Ballerini grew up with a love of music –– of all genres –– which is clearly evident in her upcoming album, Kelsea, due out next month.
"I didn't quite understand genres growing up. I think I was just always like 'Music is music, they're just on different stations,'" Ballerini reflected. "I think you can hear it in the production of every album, specifically this one. Instead of letting the production be 'This has to be a down-the-middle country album,' I let the songs determine the production this time. So it plays with elements that are very traditionally country and elements that are very Top 40."
Kelsea will mark Ballerini's first new album in three years, which she promises will show her growth, as an artist and a person.
"I was, what, 23 when I put out my last album? And this will come out when I'm 26, and there's just a lot of life that happens, in those stages as a young woman," Ballerini reflected. "I think everything will change with every album. It never gets boring."
Ballerini made it a point to challenge herself in both writing and recording songs on her upcoming project.
"The first two albums, I found my group that I felt safe and comfortable with, and I stayed within that because I knew it and it worked," Ballerini said. "And this time I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted to get in rooms with people who were outside of country. I wanted to get in rooms with people that are just so much better than me and learn and push myself, because why not?
"A lot of the songs aren't even on the album, but they are songs that I'm so proud of because I got in the room with Ryan Tedder or I got in the room with Jon Bellion, and I hadn't had those opportunities before."
Order Kelsea at KelseaBallerini.com.
Photo Credit: Getty / John Shearer