At 29, Kelsea Ballerini is celebrating the release of her fifth studio album – and, at the same time, navigating the end of her marriage.
She told CBS News’ Anthony Mason that, while she used to be terrified of change, now she’s embracing it.
These days, life is complicated for Ballerini, who recently kicked off her headlining tour at Radio City Music Hall in New York City: “I have made this show, if I do say so myself, really special. It’s almost like a Broadway musical.”
“How involved are you in all of that?” Mason asked.
“Oh, I’m crazy.”
“You must enjoy it on some level?”
“Oh, I love it. I love it. It’s getting to bring it to life, this thing that I’ve worked in a studio on for two years.”
Ballerini, who’s charted five #1 country hits, is celebrating the release of her new album, “Subject to Change.” The title track alludes to a big change in her own life. Right before the album’s release, she announced that she was getting divorced.
“I think when there’s a big life decision like that, it’s not a sudden one,” she said. “And there’s a lot that happens before that becomes public. So, I’m on my, like, active healing journey. And a big part of that is showing up for this album and showing up for myself like I never have.”
From “Subject to Change”:
I’m subject to going from zero to feeling obsessed
To happy and laughing, then being upset
But if one thing’s the same
It’s that I’m subject to change, yeah
Now 29, Ballerini recently split with Australian country singer Morgan Evans, whom she married when she was 24. “I’m a peacemaker,” she said. “We’ve talked about this before. I’m a people pleaser. So, to do something that kind of goes against those two things is really difficult. And I’m really proud of myself.”
“You kind of tear yourself up when you go through that,” Mason said.
“Yeah. It’s rough. It’s also rough like, it’s not chaotic. It’s not, like, volatile, it just didn’t work. And that sometimes is like a difficult narrative to get your head around when you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh. This is a good person. And I’m a good person. And this is just no longer good anymore.'”
From “Love Is a Cowboy”:
Makes your heart feel like wild horses in your chest
Trying to catch, it’s like tryin’a tame a wild, wild west
And when I’m with him, it’s like ropin’ the wind
Love is a cowboy.
Mason asked, “Often in situations like that a person feels like they failed?”
“Yeah. Oh, God. Yeah. It’s easy to, like, shame yourself, and it’s easy to want to hide,” she said. “I just want to be proud of myself in 10 years on this season of my life.
“This is not just a heavy time in my life. This is also a celebratory time in my life. I don’t want to shade that, ’cause that’s important to feel.”
From “The Little Things”:
Back to the basics ’cause they’re bigger than they seem, yeah
They’re bigger than they seem, yeah
Give me that typical, simple love,
It’s the little things
At the same time, Ballerini admits she is still struggling, even after releasing an upbeat new single last month. “It was like my weekend to fall apart,” she said.
On social media, she shared this vulnerable video of herself listening to a song called “Complex”:
Mason asked, “What made you post that?”
“I just wanted people to remember that, like, I’m feeling my feelings, too. And it’s a lot. It’s a lot.”
“I think in these situations you often end up asking yourself a lot of questions about who you actually are?”
“Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah!” she laughed.
“How did you answer them?”
“I think I’m actively answering all that. But I think the things that I’m learning are, I’m loyal. And that’s a really weird thing to say, going through a divorce.”
“I don’t think that’s weird at all.”
“But I think loyalty is, like, broader than just your person. I think loyalty is something that you have to start with yourself.”
In her song “Doin’ My Best,” Ballerini lists a series of messy moments she’s been through, including one with a celebrity friend:
I was friends with a pop star
I put ’em on track four
but wish I could take it back
Ballerini doesn’t name her, but the artist on track four of her last album was Halsey.
“It’s not a diss track. And I feel like I need to specify that,” she laughed. “Sometimes when you mix friendship and careers and work, like, I guess it gets weird. And, you know, I essentially lost a friend.”
“I was just curious,” said Mason. “You put it in the song.”
“I did put it in the song. Yeah. I wildly respect the person that I had that song with and had that friendship with and, like, want nothing but the best.”
Last month at an ACM event, she got to honor a friend and mentor: Shania Twain. “I loved showing up for her,” she said.
Ballerini showed up in the same outfit Shania had worn to the 1999 Grammys. “We had, like, one day with it. So, it was just kind of like, hopefully it fit? And it did! Thank God.”
Mason said, “She’s watching you from the audience and singing along with you – that’s gotta be special.”
“The best part of that night was, after the show we had dinner, and we ended up having a nightcap of wine on her balcony until 2:00 a.m., and just talked about life. What a gift.”
Kelsea Ballerini not only has lots to talk about these days – she has lots to write about.
“I have to,” she said. “It’s, like, healthy for me to just go ahead and get it on out. But I’m doing it for me. I don’t know if I’ll ever put it out. I don’t know when I’ll put something else out. I need a break after this. I need to get my life together!”
“Chapters – you have to have to write them, and you have to finish them,” said Mason.
“Uh-huh. And then you got to turn the page.”
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