Kelsea Ballerini Says Working with Kenny Chesney on 'Half of My Hometown' Was 'Very Full Circle'
Kelsea Ballerini also opens up to PEOPLE (the TV Show!) about the upcoming music video for "Half of My Hometown"
"The collaboration with Kenny for 'Half of My Hometown' was weirdly organic," Ballerini, 27, tells PEOPLE (the TV Show!) of the latest single from album Kelsea.
"I had Kenny's number from this really encouraging text he sent me really early on in my career where he saw my name on a billboard," she says of the hit-maker, who's also from Knoxville, Tennessee. "He took a picture of it in New York and he sent it to me and he said, 'I'm proud of you, hometown girl.' And I didn't even know that Kenny knew who I was."
Ballerini adds that Chesney quickly came to mind after she finished writing the personal song years later.
"I texted it to him at like 2:00 AM," she says. "He was nice enough to listen to it and say like, 'Let me figure this out on my end. Let me make sure that I can actually be a partner in this song and do this with you.' And now he is, and it makes it all the more special."
Getting to work with Chesney has been a "very full circle" moment for Ballerini.
"Part of me just goes, I want to be so present that I don't want a fangirl. And then part of me can't help but fangirl," she admits.
"He was so wonderful," she adds. "And he was so fun to work with because he wanted it to be something that I was proud of too. And we came out of the studio, both obviously being really proud of it."
Speaking of the song's upcoming music video, Ballerini describes it as an exploration of "what my life would be like" if she never left her hometown.
"I love when a video can kind of make the song have a new meaning and bring a new life to it. And we wanted to do that with this one, just because it is so personal," she says.
"It feels very comfortable and very easy to play because I think it's a very realistic picture of what my life would be like had I stayed," she adds, noting that she could have had a "couple of kids" and been working in cosmetology.
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"I moved when I was 15 to Nashville and I couldn't wait to leave. All I wanted was to go to Nashville and figure out how to be a country music singer" she says. "So in my mind, Knoxville was the place that was holding me back."
But now, Ballerini realizes that she "wouldn't be the artist or the songwriter or the person I am if I hadn't have had those 15 years here."
"I have a huge appreciation and respect for it now," she says. "I love my hometown."
"It brings joy to my heart to know that I did leave, right? I got to chase this dream and that I'm getting to come back and like appreciate the life that I maybe could have had had I stayed," Ballerini explains. "It's a very interesting juxtaposition, but it makes me happy."
The "Half of My Hometown" music video will be released May 13.
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