Who is Kelsea Ballerini?

Anyone who follows country music has seen the rise of superstar Kelsea Ballerini, who rocketed to fame when she was just 19. But fascinatingly, the country princess said she never listened to country music when she was growing up—in fact, she was barely aware of its existence. As a teenager, she wrote music that didn’t seem to fit into a category until she started listening to country and realized her true dream of being a country singer. 

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“I grew up on Top 40 pop,” she told Radio.com. “I didn’t know what country music was, which is so funny because I grew up on a farm in East Tennessee. When I was writing them, I didn’t know where they would fit, and then I heard ‘Stupid Boy’ on my friend’s MySpace page.

Subsequently, she became a huge music fan, begging her mother to move to Nashville. Ballerini signed her first record deal when she was just 19, and the rest is history. Today, the award-winning country star has had multiple top-selling albums, has been inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, and even appeared as a coach on The Voice. 

Career Start: “Love Me Like You Mean It” 

In 2014, Ballerini released her debut single, “Love Me Like You Mean It,” after securing her first record deal. At only 21 years old, she was propelled to the top of the country music industry after the song became an instant hit. She received numerous nominations, including a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. 

In an incredible performance for a first single, “Love Me Like You Mean It” peaked at No. 1 on the Country Airplay charts. Ballerini was the first country music artist to achieve this since Carrie Underwood released “Jesus, Take the Wheel” in 2006. Her first two albums saw success after success, with seven singles reaching the country charts. Ballerini’s subsequent singles, “Peter Pan” and “Dibs,” also peaked at No. 1. 

The Voice 

Ballerini has also served as a coach on two seasons of The Voice. In 2018, she joined the team to coach five “comeback” singers who were returning to audition a second time. In 2021, Ballerini returned to the show, this time as a replacement for Kelly Clarkson during one round. 

Songs and Musical Style

Ballerini seems to have appeared out of the blue, but there is no doubt that she has staying power. Critics have praised her music for its seamless combining of pop and country elements and her performances for their passion and emotion, which range from soft and sensitive to confident and daring. Ballerini has released four studio albums, The First Time, Unapologetically, Kelsea, and Subject to Change before her most recent EP, Rolling Up The Welcome Mat.

Before her 30th birthday, Ballerini had already been nominated for a host of awards—and won several from the Country Music Association and iHeart radio—and had three No. 1 hits. She has also performed with giants of country and pop music such as Alison Krauss, Kenny Chesney, the Chainsmokers, and Kelly Clarkson. 

Looking forward to the future of her career, Ballerini told the Associated Press: “I want to be an artist and songwriter, and a communicator because I want to give people what music has given to me. And that is not feeling alone.”

Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

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