While in New York this morning and making an appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America, Kelsea Ballerini announced the title and release date of her long-awaited sophomore album via Black River Entertainment: On Nov. 3, the songstress will issue Unapologetically. At a press event a few weeks ago in Nashville, the 23-year-old singer spoke of the creative process behind album number two.
“I wrote over two hundred songs for this album,” she said. “When I started listening to everything, and started to figure out ‘What is it that you want to say this time?’ The first time was an introduction — I wanted to cover who I was, where I was from, the age that I was, first heartbreak, first crush, parents getting divorced, insecurities. The last two years of my life have been literally jam-packed, a lifetime into two years. When I put out the last record, I was going through a gnarly break-up, and it was a really weird time of highs and lows. Then, that relationship ended, and I went through this growing up period in my life, one of self-discovery, and learning a lot about who I am and who I want to be. I had to shift my focus and figure out what I wanted this [album] to be.”
The lead single from Unapologetically is the stirring ballad “Legends,” which is No. 43 on the Country Airplay chart this week (chart dated Aug. 5). The song is accompanied by an emotional video clip that will tug at the heartstrings, involving. Ballerini said she had a vision for the video once she heard the demo of the song.
“For this record, the two filters I had for picking songs were that I wanted to know that it was going to go over well live, and I wanted to be able to see a music video in my head, because those were two things that I had no idea about on my first record. I wrote this song two years ago, and the day we wrote it, Forest sent me the demo. I listened to it, and all I could see was a car wreck. God willing, I’ve never had anyone close to me in a car wreck or anything like that, but it was a really strong visual that I saw. I think to me it made the song more about general loss than heartbreak. I wanted the song to be bigger than heartbreak. I think the video captured that.”
Despite the dramatic flair of videos such as “Legends” and “Peter Pan,” don’t be looking for Ballerini to step in front of the camera for an acting project. “I love visual music, being able to pair the story that I write with a video so you can see what was in my head, but acting is not my thing. I had to act more in the ‘Peter Pan’ video, and it was very hard for me and really uncomfortable. What I would love to do is voice-over stuff. You’re in a sound booth, and you have your script just like you have your lyrics, and it feels like you are making a record, but you’re making a character instead.”
Since launching her career in 2015 with the infectious “Love Me Like You Mean It,” the singer said one of the coolest aspects of her career has been getting to know some of the artists that she looked up to as a child, such as Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, and most recently, Shania Twain — with whom she shared the stage at Stagecoach.
“People say you should never meet your idols,” she says, “but I disagree. In country alone, Hillary Scott, Taylor Swift, and Shania — those were my three that I studied and learned from, I waited in line to meet, and I saved up to go see. All three of them have reached their hand out to me. Obviously, they are superstars, but because they are such beautiful people. As a new artist, it’s really inspiring to see that and know that they can be the biggest star in the whole world, and still be kind and want to help someone that they believe in.”
Ballerini is on the road this year with Scott and Lady Antebellum, and will be headed overseas to the United Kingdom and South Africa this fall. Seeing the reach of the music around the world is something that excites her. “It’s so crazy to go to another country,” she said. “I felt this way about Australia when I went there two years ago — to go so far away, and still have such big country music fans halfway across the world. We just went to Canada, and I had never been there, but they knew the songs. To see the music have that kind of reach and affect is something special.”