Kelsea Ballerini reveals her unrelenting determination is the key to her success.
The young country star reflected on her rise to success in a segment of “How I Made It” for Cosmopolitan. Ballerini’s journey truly began when she was barely a teenager. “I started going to Nashville when I was 12 or 13,” the Grammy-nominated artist explained. “I would show up to meetings with my guitar, with 20 songs, ready to go. No one would take me seriously. Taylor [Swift] had just launched.”
She counts superstar Taylor Swift and Canadian legend Shania Twain among those she looks up to. “I learned how to write songs by listening to Taylor. By listening to Shania, and Faith. I wrote songs that I thought sounded like the radio, but the reality was, they were already on the radio. No one wanted to hear what I had to say because it was already said. So I kind of had to go away and figure out, ‘What is it that YOU want to say? What do YOU want to be about? What do YOU want to stand for?’”
So Ballerini made a deal with her mom: go to college until she could snag a real job in the music industry. “I took classes Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and I would write and take meetings Tuesday and Thursday. I wrote songs all the time, and I took myself really seriously. And I found that in that, people found were like, ‘Oh, she means this. This isn’t just like a hobby. This is a passion.’”
And finally, with determination and an unrelenting pursuit for her dreams, Ballerini achieved her first major music milestone. “The biggest moment for me was getting my publishing deal. Cause that was kind of the first step into the real music industry… And I was able to leave school and do it full time. So I wrote songs full-time for a year, and at the end of that year is when I got my record deal.”
In a cool full-circle moment, the now 23-year-old singer even got a nod from her idol Swift. “I’ve always looked up to Taylor, and so when she tweeted about my EP, was her kind of being like, ‘I was a young singer/songwriter on an independent label, I feel you.’”
The “Peter Pan” singer is urging others to follow their dreams and left fans with this piece of advice. “I really do feel like taking the time to figure out who you are and what you want to stand for and be about, is the most important thing you can do,” she explained. “Having a couple of weird relationships, and making some really substantial friendships. All those things helped me create an art that helped me make an album that helped me launch as an artist.”
Ballerini’s latest single “Legends” was released this year, the first off her upcoming sophomore studio album “Unapologetically”.