So today I do my usual scroll through twitter, and I come across this video of Kelsea Ballerini from her Columbus show at Express Live. If I remember correctly, this show was rescheduled for some reason from about a month ago (maybe i'm wrong). Anyway, I was super bummed I couldn't make this show. Walker Hayes is opening up on the tour, and I was able to get to know him a bit when he stopped in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago. Super cool guy. There's nothing better than going to a show where you can really get down with all the artists on the bill.
The first time I ever got the chance to meet Kelsea Ballerini was September of 2016. She was opening up for Rascal Flatts "The Rhythm and Roots Tour" and I'm pretty sure she had only been out on tour once or twice before that with Lady A and Dan + Shay. I get told about 3 hours before the show that they are going to let me, a super inexperienced (at the time) radio guy go backstage to interview Kelsea before she goes on for her set. I'm dressed like a slob, not prepared with a single bit of info on this girl other than what I know about her music, and I'm nervous because I hadn't really got called upon for this kind of stuff too often. After some running around, I get back there not knowing what to expect. Was she gonna care about getting interviewed by some unknown overnight radio guy? I wasn't sure.
From the minute she walked in, she was cool as can be. I was able to level with her a little bit because we are about the same age. The main difference was that I was a regular dude from Pittsburgh, and she was a rising young talent with thousands of fans and followers. We talked about her first ever headlining tour which was kicking off a few weeks later, how I don't like champagne, not liking country music until we were teenagers and a bunch of other stuff. She told me I smelled good too, which I think was just a courtesy because I looked like a sweaty bum. We also took a few minutes to play with Snapchat filters, which were BRAND new right around the, But she was the best! She was super fun to talk to, didn't make me feel like an idiot, and she really helped me gain some confidence that just maybe I could make this whole radio thing work out okay. We caught up again last summer at Jamboree in the Hills, and she was just as fun and genuine as the first time we hung out.
The point of all of this -- I saw the video of Kelsea last night in Columbus, and it is awesome to see how even with all the success she has had recently, she is just as genuine and humble as she was when I met her a few years back. Even though some radio people won't say it, there are definitely some pretenders out there when it comes to the type of person an artist is. Your favorite artist can be labeled and pushed as one of the nicest people around, but when you get behind closed doors or work with them, they aren't all they are cracked up to be. This happens WAY less in country music than it does in other genres, but I'm here telling you that it definitely happens. Kelsea went from an up and comer with a few #1 singles, to a widely successful country star seemingly overnight. Her new album Unapologetically charted a spot higher than her debut album, and two more of her singles charted in the top 5 since we last hung out. She's headlined two tours, and there's a frieken Pinterest page dedicated to her outfit choices for concerts and appearances. Oh yeah, she got married too! Her and Morgan Evans (our iHeart Country on the verge artist) tied the knot earlier this year, and they basically have the spot as on of country music's top power couples locked up. All of these great things, and she's still sitting there crying on the stage talking about her 13 year-old self and everything she is now. She is as genuine an artist as you will ever meet, and I'll always cheer for her because of it.
*BONUS* I wasn't going to include the interview I did with Kelsea back in 2016, but it's whatever. I hate looking at any old videos of myself. Super awkward stuff.
VIDEO LINK - Travis Sits Down With Kelsea Ballerini