You have to love her like you mean it. That’s the only possible way to love country rising star Kelsea Ballerini. This 21 year old, hailing from Mascot, Tennessee, is taking the country music scene by storm… and fast. Kelsea’s breakthrough single “Love Me Like You Mean It” hit the #1 spot on US country radio only a few days ago and she became the first solo female to have her debut single top that airplay chart since Carrie Underwood did with "Jesus Take the Wheel" back in the year 2006.
The country/pop hit “Love Me Like You Mean It” is off Kelsea Ballerini’s debut album “The First Time” that she released last May via Black River Entertainment (a Nashville-based country independent record label that is also home of Kellie Pickler for instance.) Haven’t heard “Love Me Like You Mean It” yet? Are you living under a rock or what? Do it now! You can thank me later.
Directlyrics recently had the opportunity to do an exclusive interview with future superstar Ms. Ballerini and we asked her all about her new album, her sound, getting “Love Me Like You Mean It” to no. 1 on Country radio and replacing Carrie Underwood as the latest female artist to achieve the aforementioned feat, how songwriting helped her during a tough moment in her life a few years ago or how obsessed she is with labelmate Kellie Pickler and fellow country singer Taylor Swift, who not long ago publicly expressed her love for Kelsea on Twitter. Read our exclusive Q&A below!
1. Hi Kelsea! Your debut single “Love Me Like You Mean It” recently went number 1 on Country radio. How did you first learn the news? AND, now that you have had time to digest everything, how proud are you of your accomplishment? (Your first number one single and you have become the first female country artist since Carrie Underwood to have her debut single hit the top spot on the Country airplay chart).
So crazy! I knew that we were getting close, but there is always the possibility that last minute something could change so I didn't want to get my hopes up. My label called and told me the news and I just sobbed. But not only is it my first #1 as a songwriter and artist, it is all of the writers first #1, my labels first #1, and my producers first #1. So it made the climb and celebration so much sweeter. I'm so proud of all of us for being dreamers and hard workers.
2. Where did the inspiration to write “Love Me Like You Mean It” come? Have you ever had to say that sentence to a boy in real-life? (Sometimes boys need a little 'help' to get it together, huh?)
We wrote “Love Me” before I was signed as an artist, I was still discovering who I was and what I wanted to say. What I loved about it immediately was the confidence and empowerment that it had as the backbone. I hope lots of girls sing it sassily to their boyfriends. Ha!
3. “Love Me Like You Mean It” is part of your debut album “The First Time” which you released in late May. For those who have yet to pick a copy, how would you describe the overall sound and theme of the album?
This album is my introduction, so I wanted the songs to show a bunch of different sides of who I am. There are fun, flirty songs, songs about falling in and out of love, songs about feeling different, songs about a broken family, songs about being underage. My goal was that when people listen to it top to bottom, they know me. We're friends.
4. All artists have that one song on their album that is very special, and personal to them for whatever reason. What is Kelsea's most personal song on “The First Time” and why?
Gosh, that's tough. The rawest is probably “Secondhand Smoke”. I can't even sing it live, but I just believed that it was an important story that I needed to tell. So many people go through that, and I hope it brings comfort to kids that are experiencing that right now.
5. You are signed to Black River Entertainment. How was the process of your signing like? And did you feel a hunch your life was about to change to embrace amazing things when you inked your signature on the contract?
I was drawn to BRE the moment I stepped foot inside. And quickly after signing my publishing deal there, I knew I wanted to be an artist there. There was something really fascinating to me about being a part of something from the beginning and growing with it. I didn't quite know what this year would be like…but I will say that I didn't expect a number one!
6. Kellie Pickler is one of your labelmates and we have mad love for her too. How amazing would it be that you two recorded a collaboration? You could come up with the ultimate country female empowerment anthem! Would you be up to?
Gah, I'm obsessed with her. I remember watching her on Idol and thinking how talented and adorable she is. I'm all about girl power!
7. Taylor Swift tweeted not long ago that she loved your self-titled EP (released late last year as a prelude to your debut album). How did you react to this? And, was Taylor an inspiration to you when growing up/developing your career?
I remember listening to “Tim McGraw” and then her first record when I first started writing songs. So, from the beginning she has been a huge influence and inspiration for me. When she acknowledged my music, it was one of the coolest things that's ever happened to me. To have someone you look up to like what you're doing…it's a special feeling. She is lovely.
8. Taylor started as a country artist, but in her last album, “1989”, she decided to, let's say, expand her horizons and go full pop. Would Kelsea Ballerini be open to fully try other genres in the future?
I just love music. I listen to absolutely everything, and write absolutely everything. That being said, I grew up on a farm in East Tennessee! Haha. My roots are extremely country and it's just where my heart is. But I'll always show my influences in my country songs.
9. Songwriting is very important to you. In fact, it helped you during a difficult time of your life when your parents were divorcing. What is Kelsea Ballerini's songwriting process like? Do you like writing only about experiences you have lived or are familiar to you? Do you go first for the melody or the lyrics?
I think the best songwriters can not only write about their life, but also create an entire song around a word or phrase. SO that's something I've been challenging myself to do. But, the songs that I am the proudest of are the songs that I write as real as I can.
10. What are Kelsea's Top 5 songs of the moment?
Girl Crush, Shut Up And Dance, House Party, Love Me Like You Do, Shouldve Been Us (Tori Kelly)
11. Thank you so much for your time, Kelsea! Any last thing you'd like to share with our readers at Directlyrics.com?
Thanks for being awesome and loving music. Like you meant it!
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