Kelsea Ballerini has become one of the most prominent young voices in country music since making her debut in 2015 with the chart-topping “Love Me Like You Mean It.” Four No. 1 singles, a successful sophomore album and two headlining tours since, Ballerini is blazing a path in the genre with her contemporary voice. There are some things we all know about the bubbly singer, like her love of chicken nuggets, but there may be some facts Ballerini’s fans have yet to learn about their favorite star.
Here’s 15 things you didn’t know about Kelsea Ballerini:
1. She led her church choir
It seems that Kelsea has the art of performing in her blood. Growing up, she was at the forefront of music in her hometown, leading the worship and choir at her church, in addition to her school choir and glee club.
2. She never intended to pursue music professionally
Though writing and singing most of her young life, Kelsea admits to CMT that she initially didn’t want to make a career out of it. She originally had her heart set on becoming a veterinarian, planning to build a life for herself in her hometown. “I really thought that’s what I wanted to do. It was a real job, and I could stay in Knoxville,” she says.
3. She went to college for two years
Though she moved to Nashville when she was 15 to pursue music, Kelsea attended Lipscomb University before making it big in country, studying communications and marketing for two years before leaving for a full-time music career. Fun fact: Her mom Carla also worked in the communications field as vice president of marketing at Bible publishing company Thomas Nelson.
4. The first song she wrote was for her mother
Her mom also served as inspiration for her first song. The story behind the track is a sweet one, with Kelsea admitting that she forgot to buy her mom a Mother’s Day present one year, so instead of rushing to the store last minute, she put music to words and wrote her mom a heartfelt song titled “Oh Mama.” Not surprisingly, it brought her to tears, and for a while, Kelsea would write her a new verse each year on the holiday. Aww!
5. Her dad was in the country music industry before she was
Not as an artist, but as a radio programmer. He was also a sales manager at WIVK, a local radio station in Kelsea’s native Knoxville, Tenn., when she was growing up.
6. And he makes her favorite food
Apparently, Kelsea’s dad is the master chef behind one of her favorite meals, claiming he makes the best pasta dish affectionately known as “Eddie’s Spaghetti.”
7. She was on a competitive hip-hop team
Her last name is one letter away from being “ballerina,” so it makes sense that’s what Kelsea was at one point in her life. Before devoting her life to music, Kelsea was a longtime dancer, beginning when she was three with ballet and ultimately getting into jazz and modern dance before dancing hip-hop, which she calls her “favorite.” She was even on a competitive hip-hop team in her early teen years, but stopped when she was 13, the same age she was when she wrote her first song.
8. Her first job was at a cupcake shop
It’s safe to say most of us don’t have glamorous first jobs, but it seems like Kelsea had a pretty good one! The singer’s first gig was at a cupcake shop and she indulged in the sweet pastries on more than one occasion. “The rule was if you messed it up, you had to dispose of it but they didn’t tell us how, so I ended up having to start working out that summer from eating too many cupcakes!” she jokes with Williamson Source.
9. She puts ranch dressing on her steak
We all have bizarre food cravings and apparently one of Kelsea’s is using the popular salad dressing in lieu of steak sauce. She also puts it on her pizza. Interesting!
10. She’s a big fan of The Wizard of Oz
Like fans of all generations, Kelsea’ favorite film is the timeless classic, calling it “the greatest movie of all time” according to Macy’s blog.
11. And “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is her favorite song
Seeing as she loves The Wizard of Oz, it should come as no surprise that one of the songs she loves most is the iconic number from the legendary film. “It’s just classic, and it’s stunning, and it’s perfect. And timeless,” she tells Nashville Business Journal. “I think when you can write a timeless song like that then you’ve accomplished everything.”
12. One of her biggest aspirations involves a hydraulic lift
Always one for glitz and glam, Kelsea reveals that one of her most ambitious dreams when it comes to performing is to enter the stage via hydraulic lift as a way to create an awe-inspiring setting for her fans who come to her shows. “I love going to shows as a fan and seeing what kind of atmospheres the artist creates for that hour and a half. Because that’s what it is; you get to create a world for people to step into. And I’ve watched that as a fan for so many years, and I’ve studied it, and that’s what I want to create one day,” she says.
13. Her dream duet partner is Mackelmore
With her heart in country music, Kelsea’s interests stretch across the spectrum, citing the “Thrift Shop” rapper as one artist she’d love to collaborate with. She’s also a fan of Drake and Kanye West.
14. The one song she wishes she could cover forever is a Vince Gill number
Though she’s a big fan of pop stars including Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears and Taylor Swift, the one song Kelsea hopes to cover is one of the most revered country songs by Vince Gill. “‘Go Rest High On That Mountain’ by Vince Gill [is a] song I could probably cover every night of my life and be happy,” she tells Axs. “You can’t [do that] every night, but I will one day!”
15. She set a modern record with “Legends”
In just a few short years, Kelsea has managed to accomplish many notable feats. This especially rang true when her single “Legends” hit No. 1 in early 2018, awarding her the title of becoming the first female artist since Carrie Underwood to have the first singles from her first two albums reach the No. 1 spot on the charts. Congrats Kelsea!