Kelsea Ballerini Shares the Story Behind Kenny Chesney Duet 'Half of My Hometown'

Kelsea Ballerini first released "half of my hometown," her duet with Kenny Chesney, on her third studio album, kelsea, in March 2020, and the song is now the project's fourth radio single. The song is a reflection on Ballerini and Chesney's shared hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee, and Ballerini told The Boot that the song examines her relationship with the place she grew up in.

"'Half of My Hometown' is a song about — I don't know, just my relationship with my hometown as I've grown up," she said. "I moved away when I was 15, and, [at the time], all I wanted was to be in Nashville, and all I wanted was to be in country music and immersed in all that Nashville had to offer with that, but I think I kind of resented my hometown a little bit, 'cause I felt like it was the thing that was keeping me from that." Ballerini added that "as soon as I moved, you know, all I wanted was to go back and visit my dad and my friends and the people that I love that made me who I am that were still in my hometown."

"As I've grown up and as I've gone home, I just have this really deep love and appreciation for my roots, and I love being in Nashville and I love going home," she reflected. "And I think it's okay to love both." The 27-year-old wrote the song with Ross Copperman, Nicolle Galyon, Shane McAnally and Jimmy Robbins, and her demo vocals are featured on the finished track. After recording the demo, she texted Chesney at 2 a.m. that morning asking him to sing with her.

"The next day, he wrote back like, ‘I love this song. It made me emotional listening to it,'" she recalled. "Because I think we have really similar upbringings." Chesney told Kelleigh Bannon on Today's Country Radio with Kelleigh Bannen on Apple Music Country that while he is frequently approached about collaborations and often turns them down, he was "proud" to join Ballerini on "half of my hometown."

"I told her when we were done with it, that I was glad she asked me, but I'm very proud that I'm on that song with her," he said. "If the song was terrible, I wouldn't sing on it, because trust me, I get asked a lot to sing on a lot of records and I turn them down because the song just isn't perfect for me to sing on. But when I heard 'half of my hometown' I just I went, 'Yep, I'm going to sing on this song.'"