It's hard to believe that Kelsea Ballerini released her debut album only two years ago. In that short time, she's been nominated for multiple awards, including a Grammy, CMA Female Vocalist of the Year and Billboard's Women in Music Rising Star Award (which she won). In other words....she's been busy becoming the new Queen of Country.
Last night, as she stepped on stage to a 17,000+ crowd at the Hollywood Bowl, it was clearly a milestone for the blonde darling from Mascot, Tennessee. And she was ready for it. She might be putting the finishing touches on her sophomore album, but Kelsea is performing like a senior in the high school of music, confident and ready to take on the world.
She commands a venue the same way Taylor Swift always has- combining charm, superior songwriting and sparkly outfits, but that's where the comparison ends. Kelsea doesn't imitate anyone or anything else as she forges her own path into country music history. And it's her sincerity that rings true with her fans.
Kelsea's set was a mixture of The First Time hits, including "Dibs," "Stiletto," "Yeah Boy," with a few new songs sprinkled in. "Unapologetically in Love" is an instant smash, calling out the doubters on a beautiful relationship. "I Hate Love Songs" is one of the best country songs in years (yes, I said years) that gives early 90s country music vibes in all the right ways. And more pop-leaning "Roses," which fans initially thought to be a Taylor Swift song, already gets a sing-along going, even though the track is still unreleased.
Her songwriting, along with her matured voice, have clearly been elevated on this next album, ensuring there is no sophomore slump in sight. Hearing her new tunes that drip in authenticity, I recalled a quote from our interview back in 2015 when I asked her advice for upcoming songwriters. Kelsea said, "Write whatever you want to write, and say whatever you want to say. For me, when I stopped worrying where it fits, that's when I found what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. Be original."
Catch Kelsea out on the road with Lady Antebellum over the summer on their You Look Good World Tour.