As a young country up-and-comer, Kelsea Ballerini was still feeling out stardom, so she turned to her pal Taylor Swift to ask for a little of advice.
Taylor told the "Peter Pan" singer that being authentic was essentially the only way to truly communicate with fans.
"Her advice was, 'Don't worry about being cool or trying to be perfect. Say what you need to say and be who you are because in the end that's going to be what makes you normal,'" Kelsea told Page Six in recalling the words of wisdom which came before her first radio tour in July 2014.
The cutie took those words to heart and has ran with that idea ever since. She has since notched two consecutive No. 1 songs, with the platinum-certified "Love Me Like You Mean It" and gold-certified "Dibs."
She is reportedly the first solo female artist in 15 years to hit No. 1 with her first two country singles, but she'll tell you she's still a work in progress, citing her dress accidentally being unbuttoned onstage at a recent show.
Ever since we heard that Taylor Swift was back in the studio, we’ve been anxiously awaiting anything that would give us a hint as to what she’s up to. After all, Taylor’s had a big year, and we have a feeling that those major events (a big breakup, Hiddleswift, the whole Kimye thing) will make their way into her music as they always tend to do.
We can thank Taylor’s friend, country singer Kelsea Ballerini, for our first glimpse of what could possibly be a new Taylor song. Kelsea Snapchatted a moment in the studio featuring 15 seconds of a very Taylor-sounding tune. “We didn’t know it / thought we could grow it / beautiful for a moment / we were roses,” a voice that sounds an awful lot like Taylor’s sings in the song. (Trust us, we’ve listened to a lot of Red this week in our day.) The lyrics have serious 1989 vibes, too, and hey, if it ain’t broke...
It’s way too early in the morning to pretend to be bubbly and upbeat and fascinated by what other people say — so it could only be that Kelsea Ballerini isn’t pretending at all. She’s just that way, especially when in the company of a few close friends, small-talking and texting inside Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum hours before it opens.
Of course, not every 23-year-old can get that kind of access into this kind of place. But Ballerini is one of country music’s brightest young stars. Her first three singles — Love Me Like You Mean It, Dibs and Peter Pan — all peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay and Hot Country Songs charts. She co-hosted ABC’s Greatest Hits with Arsenio Hall during the show’s six-week run last summer. The Country Music Association has included her among its 2016 nominees for New Artist of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year. The outfit she wore on last year’s CMA Awards broadcast — Nicole Miller romper and floor-length skirt, Lionette earrings, lace-up boots by Lust For Life — is displayed under glass at the Hall of Fame, which explains her VIP admission to see the exhibit for the first time.
As Ballerini sees it, her successes have been a team effort. “I wrote the songs on The First Time with my friends,” she says. “My friends (Forest Glen Whitehead and Jason Massey) co-produced it. To take it from the living room where we were struggling to figure out what we were doing in Nashville to make history with three No. 1 singles, I take a lot of pride in that. But what’s really cool is that I get to share that with the people with me. We take pride in it together.”
Ballerini, who is currently on the road with Rascal Flatts, is also working on her second studio album and getting ready to kick off a tour of her own later this year. She opened up to CBS News while on a stop in the New York area.
On what her success over the past year has been like:
Yeah, it’s been intimidating, but has been awesome and makes me feel like I’m doing something right. You know, we are working very hard, are on the road so much, getting to tour everywhere and put out music. So it is so nice to know that it is getting embraced everywhere.
On what she has learned during her time touring with Rascal Flatts:
We would do a couple headlining shows every now and again while touring with Rascal Flatts and they just make it so fun. It’s so cool to be able to put together a show that was just for people coming there to celebrate my music with me. What I‘ve really learned from working with people like Rascal Flatts, Lady Antebellum and Keith Urban is to try to make a big show for my fans and really get as personal to them as I possibly could.
On what she’s looking forward to with her own tour:
I’ve always loved the bells and whistles of concerts that I have gone to. Like, I loved when people would fly over the crowd or have tons of crazy lights. So even though it’ll be smaller venues that I’ll play in, we still want to incorporate that stuff when we can. We are going to have the bells and whistles for sure.