Country singer-songwriter Kelsea Ballerini is up for the Best New Artist trophy at this year's Grammy Awards, but this definitely isn't her first rodeo. After her debut single,"Love You Like You Mean It," she was nominated for the 2017 iHeart Radio Awards for New Country Artist of the Year, too.
The Tennessee native is known for her bubbly personality, heartfelt tunes, and most of all, her lyrical achievements. She, "All I ever intended was to make good music, to have a voice and have that voice be heard. As an artist and songwriter, that's all I wanted." Here's what you need to know about one of country's biggest rising stars.
1. She's from Knoxville.
Ballerini grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee from Britney Spears to Frank Sinatra and Kelly Clarkson. After in glee club in school and singing in church, she moved to Nashville when she was 15 to chase her musical dreams as a songwriter. In just a few years, her passion grew into her profession. She signed a publishing deal, and then a record deal immediately after that, with Black River Entertainment.
2. Her song lyrics draw from hard times in her past.
, Kelsea "started journaling, then writing her poems and eventually, singing those poems" in the fallout of her parents' divorce; she has said she used those lyrics as an emotional outlet. Ballerini either wrote or co-wrote all twelve tracks on her debut album The First Time, several of them about just being a teenager dreaming about love. But one of the songs, "Secondhand Smoke," was deeply personal. She , "It's so many people's story, and a story that needs to be told because I know when I was 12 and 13 when [the divorce] was happening, I felt super alone. I want to be a voice of comfort for people going through that." Here's a sampling of the lyrics:
Am I the product of a problem that I couldn't change?
Got his eyes, got her hair, so do I get their mistakes?
I know that you can't walk across a bridge that's already burned, so
What am I supposed to do, I can't help that they chose
To breathe it in, but I don't want to choke
On that secondhand smoke
3. She may be young, but she's already had a lot of success.
At 23, her Neverland-inspired music video for "Peter Pan" surpassed 25 million views on YouTube.
She's released at least three consecutive singles from The First Time: "Love Me Like You Mean It," platinum-certified "Peter Pan," and gold-certified hit "Dibs." "Peter Pan" earned double Number Ones on the Billboard charts, and made Kelsea the first woman to reach #1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts at the same time.
Recognized for her musical success on the recent , the accolades keep coming. She was also named Billboard's Women in Music "Rising Star" artist. (Pop star Ariana Grande was chosen the previous year.) Kelsea was also recently nominated for Favorite Female Country Artist in the People's Choice Awards.
4. She just got engaged.
Kelsea announced the news over the holidays via Instagram and her custom-made, cushion-cut diamond ring with Australian singer Morgan Evans. They met in 2016 when they presented together at an awards show, and Kelsea wrote on Instagram that "he got down on one knee in the kitchen while I was burning pancakes" for the proposal. Morgans, a contemporary country songwriter,
5. Her nerves still creep up when she's on stage.
Kelsea opened up about her anxiety while touring with Rascal Flatts and then performing with Lady Antebellum. "I've gotten used to my normal set on tour, but when it's special things, like singing on stage with someone or an awards show, I get painfully nervous," she told [link href="http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/kelsea-ballerini-talks-rascal-flatts-891138" target="_blank" 0="data-tracking-id="recirc-text-link"" link_updater_label="external"]The Hollywood Reporter
6. She got a major boost from Taylor Swift.
She was a surprise guest at the Nashville stop on Taylor Swift's 1989 World Tour. They took turns singing "Love Me Like You Mean It," which got support from Swift early on. Swift tweeted that she had the single on repeat, which gave her career a huge lift. According to , "The whole thing… we couldn't have planned it. We really couldn't have. It just happened how it was supposed to… Taylor was a huge part of that."
7. She's all about country — even if she doesn't win.
Kelsea might be nominated for best new artist on music's biggest night, but she : "I'm also rooting for all my fellow country people, so Carrie [Underwood]'s up for a bunch of awards, Maren [Morris is] up for a bunch of awards, including Best New Artist." In her eyes, the more country, the better.