Kelsea Ballerini: 'There's Something Freeing About Not Caring'

There’s a good reason Kelsea Ballerini’s sophomore album is called Unapologetically.

“There’s something really freeing about not caring,” the 24-year-old country star told The Independent, “and that’s the heart of the record.

“It’s vulnerable but there’s strength in that. I learned over the last few years to be that way, be unapologetic about who I am as an artist.”

Ballerini doesn’t apologize for not sounding like a so-called traditional country singer.

“I get comments about it a lot. But I think it’s a really cool eclectic time in country music, you can hear Little Big Town who are folk country, Chris Stapleton – soul country, Sam Hunt who’s R&B country, me who’s pop country... You can hear the influences we listen to,” she explained.

“I grew up on a farm in east Tennessee and my first concert was Britney Spears, that’s my music.”

Ballerini said attitudes are changing and artists like herself, Maren Morris, RaeLynn and Lauren Alaina can cross musical borders. “We all have influences that are outside of country and you can hear it,” she said.

Ballerini admitted she’s a “fangirl” of Kelly Clarkson.

“I went to her show when I was 14, the air conditioning was out and it was boiling,” recalled the singer. “She was onstage, sounding incredible, she finishes a song and goes: ‘Woo! If y’all could smell me right now, you wouldn’t be here.’ And I was like, ‘she’s a person!’

“Often there’s this disconnect when someone’s onstage, and in that moment with Kelly, she was right there with the fans.”