Watch Karissa Ella Join Family and Friends in Sentimental Music Video for 'Hometown Bar'

"They're probably my biggest support system," Ella tells PEOPLE of the people in her hometown of North Canton, Ohio

Karissa Ella misses her hometown.

The country music artist misses the wide-open spaces and the people living within those wide-open spaces, and always seems to be craving the chance to travel the 504 miles from Nashville that takes her back to her original home. But if she's being honest with herself, she could have never stayed.

Her dreams were just too big for that place.

"It was an incredible place to be born and to be raised, and I miss it every single day," says Ella, 26, in a recent interview with PEOPLE. "But when you come from a small town, people don't really understand why someone would leave a stable life and stable income in order to try making it as a singer."

Karissa Ella | Album Art
Karissa Ella. Dani V Photography

But in 2014, that's exactly what Ella did, when she moved from her hometown of North Canton, Ohio, to begin her quest to make her often misunderstood dreams come true.

"It's a tough game," she says of her professional journey thus far. "You work hard for your money. You're playing gigs all the time and doing odd jobs."

Nevertheless, Ella continues her rise toward country music stardom, and these days, those doubters from back home are some of her biggest fans. "They're probably my biggest support system," she says. "I love going home and playing my hometown shows."

Her experiences loving and leaving her hometown certainly make their way into the video for Ella's latest single "Hometown Bar," which she wrote alongside her friends Aubrey Tune, Cassidy Best and Reagan Russo.

"I wanted to be very reflective and nostalgic with 'Hometown Bar' because that's kind of the next step I'm entering with my music," says Ella, who plans to put out an EP next year. "But honestly, you can interpret this song in a couple different ways, but for me it's about wishing I could be home."

Karissa Ella | Album Art
Karissa Ella. Dani V Photography

But in a way, coming home reminds her that she no longer belongs there, with one line in the song touching on the heavy question — doesn't everyone dream like me?

"I wasn't sure about putting that line in there because I didn't want it to come across in the wrong way, but honestly it's just reflective," says Ella, who graduated from Belmont University in June 2018. "Everyone back in my hometown seems so happy, but if they could, would they leave? Did they have dreams of doing something else, but they decided to stay for some reason?"

She pauses.

"I don't think they would leave even if they could, to be honest," she says quietly. "They all are living a great life in my hometown and if I didn't have to leave, I would probably still be there. I was just meant for something else."

Ella, however, did return to her hometown bar, specifically the ACM-nominated Dusty Armadillo bar in Rootstown, Ohio for the one-day video shoot for "Hometown Bar" that included many of those family and friends.

"The music video just has all of these small little glimpses of life back home," she says of the video that was brought to life by video producer & director Wales Toney. "It's just so sentimental to me because I've gotten to play [the Dusty Armadillo] and visit there all the time. It's just an important place to me. And now I have this video that I'll always look back on."

Karissa Ella | Album Art
Karissa Ella. Dani V Photography

It's these sweet moments that Ella hangs onto, especially as she continues to experience the topsy-turvy road to country music stardom.

"It's so easy to get caught up in the little things that don't matter and compare yourself to other artists," says Ella. "At the end of the day, you just have to go for whatever you want to do and stay in your lane."

Or not.

"The blinds of country music are blurred right now, which is great," says Ella, who looks to artists such as Morgan Wallen, HARDY and Zach Bryan for inspiration on pushing those country music boundaries. "I think there's room for it. It invites others into the genre. But at the end of the day, what makes country music isn't a fiddle or a steel guitar. It's the story you tell. I think a lot of artists are starting to pick up on that and get back into what country really means."

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