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Kelsea Ballerini talks candidly about her new EP and hearing ‘Over For You’ for the first time with Kelleigh Bannen

Kelsea Ballerini joins Today’s Country Radio with Kelleigh Bannen for a heartfelt conversation about her latest EP ‘Rolling Up the Welcome Mat.’ Kelsea describes letting go of the guardrails that had previously guided her music, dealing with criticism, and how being ultra-specific in her lyrics has lead to a deeper connection with fans.

Tune in and listen to the episode in-full this Friday (March 31st) at 7am PT / 9am CT / 10am ET or anytime on-demand at apple.co/_TodaysCountry

Kelsea Ballerini on Her ‘Rolling Up the Welcome Mat – EP’ Songs Being Her Diary Entries

All these songs, all six were such a stream of consciousness, and I wasn’t worried about if the hook was super clever or if the rhyme was perfect or whatever, the flow of the song. It was very much so just like a diary entry and getting back to that, which is how I started writing songs when I was 12 and my parents were getting divorced. And I had these really, really, really big feelings and I didn’t know where to put them. And then I started writing songs and that’s always where I’ve kept them safe.

Kelsea Ballerini on Ex-Husband Morgan Evans Releasing “Over For You” Being the Catalyst to Writing “Blindsided”

If I’m being really candid, the first song I wrote was “Blindsided” and it was certainly a response, not that I ever really intended on putting out, but something that I definitely needed to write about. So I would be lying to say that it was … There was a catalyst to start this project. That was it. But that was just one of the very many complex feelings I was having, responding to one narrative when there’s so much more happening. And God, going through any kind of life shift that, that involves your heart and such a public big, real way, there’s a lot that comes with that. And I didn’t feel like I could just write one song and even scratch the surface of what I was experiencing and feeling. So then I just kept going. And then I realized that that song actually wasn’t the beginning. It was kind of the middle of the story, and then I kept going.

Kelsea Ballerini on Bringing the Focus Back to the Music

What’s really interesting about that is I’ve only had one conversation about the breakup, and it was very unfiltered and I stand by it. Every other conversation I’ve had has been about the music. So I don’t know. I felt like the divorce is not new, the music is… So I’m just trying to really shift back into the art of it and the heart of it and the healing that it’s bringing to me and now the healing that it’s bringing to other people.

Kelsea Ballerini on Singing “Blindsided”

I’m such a feeler, a soft person. I’m a really soft person. And it’s interesting because right now, singing “Blindsided” and stuff, I get to put this armor on for three minutes. That’s not who I am. I’m soft and I see everything. I hear everything. I’m very clicked into what people think of me, and maybe that’s something I should probably put some fences around.

Kelsea Ballerini on Writing the Line: “Ain’t it like this town to only criticize a woman”

I was late to the party as far as what was being said about what was happening. So a lot of things were being said for me. And so that I think is where that line came from. Where I was like, “Man, I haven’t said really anything yet, but a lot of people are speaking for me.”

Kelsea Ballerini on Hearing Morgan Evans’ “Over For You” for the First Time

KELLEIGH: Is it accurate to say the beginning of the writing of this music was Morgan’s song coming out?

KELSEA: Yeah. Yeah.

KELLEIGH: I’ve never had anyone write a song about me, and certainly not in that kind of a season in that… Does your team get a heads-up?

KELSEA: Mm-mmm. [No]

KELLEIGH: You hear it just like we all hear it for the first time?

KELSEA: Mm-hmm.

KELLEIGH: Someone sends it to you?

KELSEA: Mm-hmm. Yeah. And yeah, I think obviously you just… It’s very uncharted territory, all of it. All of it. And so I think I am very lucky because I have a lot of pillar women in my life and pillar women that are public figures that have walked through divorce before. And I have just people that aren’t public figures that have walked through divorce, and I leaned on everyone very heavily.

Kelsea Ballerini on Her Original Intention of Dropping the EP and Moving On

The intention was truly to drop it. I wanted to make the short film, drop the short film on the same day and just walk away. I never wanted to play these songs. I never thought that … I thought it was going to be a thing on Valentine’s Day… Move right on back to “If you go down, I’m going down too,” and it’s not going to disrupt anything because why would it? Truly, every day some things happened, like getting SNL and all these things. We’re just like, “I guess we should make a merch piece.” But we’re just like, “Do we put one of these songs to radio?” We’re really just shifting now because we did not expect [this response]. It wasn’t the intention. This was not the intention.

Kelsea Ballerini on the Voice Note in “Blindsided”

KELLEIGH: That’s not a real voice … Is that a real voicemail?

KELSEA: I’ll never say… I’ll never say, but I’m not an actress. That song to me is so important… It’s important. And I felt like because everything got very click-bait-y I didn’t want to lose the fact that we are two human beings experiencing this very differently. But nevertheless, experiencing it. And getting to that point was real emotion and real conversations. And I think that was the intention of adding that bit in there.

Kelsea Ballerini on What Her Welcome Mat Metaphorically Says Right Now

KELSEA: I think it says, “If you’re going to come in, stay a while.” … I think I’m-

KELLEIGH: No one gets to pass through.

KELSEA: Yeah… I think when you go through a life change like what I just experienced, you find out who your people are in a very real way. And that’s what I was talking about earlier too, about being okay with shedding some people as well and knowing that they were for a season or for a reason. And that’s okay. But I feel like I know who my lifers are now. And I feel like anyone new that enters into my life, I have a whole new filtering system. But I feel like I know that people that are in my life now are staying in my life, which is really … what a gift.

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