December 15, 2016


Kelsea Ballerini Talks Waking Up to Grammy Texts From Maren Morris & Her One-Third Breakup Album

Guerin Blask
Guerin Blask

With one final show in Houston, Texas, on Wednesday night, Kelsea Ballerini finished up her very first headlining tour. And it seems like, in the past year or so, the new country wunderkind has achieved a basketful of firsts. In May 2015, she dropped her first major-label album, appropriately titled The First Time. In March '16, she became the first female country act to have three consecutive No. 1's, with "Love Me Like You Mean It," "Dibs" and "Peter Pan." And last week, she earned her first Grammy nomination.

The Nashville native is nominated for Best New Artist, alongside The ChainsmokersChance the RapperMaren Morris and Anderson .Paak. When Fuse hopped on the phone with Ballerini, we learned that Morris was one of the first people to break the Grammy news to her, while she was still lying in bed. Ballerini also revealed that she'll be taking her mother to the Grammys when they roll around on Feb. 12.

Fuse: Congratulations on your Grammy nomination!
Kelsea Ballerini: Oh my gosh. I feel like that was the perfect way to end this year.

How did you find out?
I mean, I knew the nominations were going to come out that morning, but I was asleep. My phone just started blowing up. I always know that when my phone is blowing up, it's either good or bad. Luckily, it was good news.

I love the video you made in celebration. Do you plan on documenting your trip to the Grammys that same way?
I'm sure I will. I always love capturing first time, whether that's myself or I'll have someone with me that captures all of it. I know for a fact that I'm going to look back in 20 or 30 years, and I'm going to want to remember my first time to the Grammys, you know?

Absolutely. Do you have any plans yet? Outfit, dinner...speech?
Not yet. I'll probably think about that over break. I think I'm going to end up bringing my mom, which will be fun. I'll wear something very sparkly.

What are you doing for Christmas?
I go home, I do Kelly Clarkson's Christmas special, the Opry and then I'm done. It's been a long year. I'm spending a week just doing Christmas with family, and then I'm going to Australia with my Aussie for a few weeks.

Oh wow, so that's a decent vacation.
Like a proper getaway!

And then you're working on your second album, right?
Yes, I am. Early next year we'll have more time to really get into it. But we have six picked out for it, and two completely done and we'll have the first six done by January. It's just so much fun to get back into that creative space and figure out what it is that I want to say again.

Are you going to have more of that playful vibe from The First Time?
It'll definitely have some of that, but I feel like it was definitely more of my teenage years. But I feel like turning 21, when I put out my last record, to now, 23, I've done a lot of growing up. There will definitely be some of that still, but probably not as much.

What exactly will you be singing about?
I feel like it'll be about a third of a breakup album, a third of a growing up, like, trying to figure out my life, failing a few times, but also having some victories, and then a third of just smitten-nosed kitten album.

I heard you've gotten some congratulations from some of your famous friends. Who did you hear from?
It's so cool to have friends to walk the same paths as you and you can celebrate each other. Any time anything amazing happens, my friends are always there to celebrate with me. But when the Grammy nomination happened, the first person I got a text from was Maren [Morris, her fellow Best New Artist nominee], which was really cool. Hillary [Scott, from Lady Antebellum] and Taylor [Swift]. They're like my big sisters and my mentors. They're always the first to reach out. But then, like, my friend Meghan Trainor reached out, and Tori Kelly and Rachel Platten, and it's cool to be able to celebrate that with so many amazing women.