When Kelsea Ballerini introduced herself to country music with her debut single, "Love Me Like You Mean It," in 2014, she was not quite 21, and not at all sure how to navigate the grueling business. Now, as a more confident 26-year-old, the singer is ready to introduce herself –– perhaps her most authentic self — with her self-titled third record.
"I've just started to regain ownership over my life," Ballerini told Billboard, adding that she finally took time off to write songs for Kelsea, a luxury she had never allowed herself before.
"I was so nervous to not run myself into the ground for four months, because that's all I knew," she added.
Ballerini has already illustrated that Kelsea is her most honest record to date, both with her current single, "homecoming queen?" and the track, "la." While she isn't afraid to be brutally honest with her fans about what she is going through, she doesn't want to be so honest that her younger fans can't understand.
"I always lead with the young-fan lens," Ballerini said. "I'm so protective of that because I know that there's not many females right now, especially in country, for little girls to look to. But I also think being a role model means [being] someone that is authentic, talks about their real life and isn't just cookie-cutter."
The wife of Morgan Evans has also mastered, more than almost any other artist, the art of social media, using it to get really up close and personal with her fans.
"It's the way that I hear directly from the people who give a sh––," Ballerini revealed. "It has become my way of measuring success. For so long, I was searching for it in a No. 1; I was searching for it by selling out a club or theater. That connection with fans — them being honest with me, me being honest with them — has become how I value where I'm at."
Ballerini just received one ACM Award nomination, for Female Artist of the Year. She shares the category with Maren Morris, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves and Carrie Underwood. The 2020 ACM Awards will air live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 5, at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.0comments
Kelsea will drop on March 20.
Photo Credit: Getty / Taylor Hill