Kelsea Ballerini Says Staying ‘Soft’ Despite Heartbreak Is a ‘Gift You Can Give Yourself’
Kelsea Ballerini's Heartfirst Tour — and the song it's named after — is a celebration of openheartedness, and the singer says that's true to her personality in real life.
"The whole point of life is love, and I'm a heart first girly, we all know this," the singer explains in an interview for People's 2023 Beautiful Issue.
"I've written about blissfully and blindly following my heart into the abyss my whole career," she adds. "And I will continue to do that, hopefully, 'til the day I die."
But that willingness to follow her heart was tested after Ballerini went through a painful, and highly publicized, divorce from her fellow country artist husband Morgan Evans in mid-2022. The singer now says that she's put in considerable work to channel and process her emotions without becoming hardened to the idea of falling in love again.
"It's really easy to put up walls or picket fences and barbed wire when a relationship doesn't go the way you think it's gonna go, because you don't want to get hurt again," she reflects. "A real gift you can give yourself is to stay soft, because you never know when you're gonna find it again."
Ballerini has found love again after her divorce. She's dating Outer Banks actor Chase Stokes, and the couple made their relationship red carpet official at the 2023 CMT Music Awards. Despite the fact that she's been a star for years — and that she was formerly married to another familiar face in country music — Ballerini says she's never experienced quite this much fan attention on her relationship status.
"I've experienced people caring about my music, and I've experienced people caring about certain friendships that I have with other artists. But I've never experienced people caring so much about my personal life," the singer notes.
After her divorce, she also had to re-learn how to be alone — something that singer admits took her a "hot minute," but she's gotten "really good" at it. "I think being alone requires you to be comfortable with whatever's going to come up in the quiet. If you're okay with whatever arises, then you're fine," she adds. "If you're not comfortable being alone, it means that you're probably running away from something."
At this point in her life, though, Ballerini welcomes that quiet. After she wraps her stint as a opener on Kenny Chesney's current I Go Back Tour, she'll take a much-needed break, spending some time in the new home she purchased after she and Evans sold the house they shared.
"I haven't had a summer in my new house yet," she notes, adding that the growth she's been through emotionally is making it easy to spend time alone these days.
"My soul, my heart, my mind and my body are finally at rest. When I'm happy, I feel beautiful," Ballerini concludes.
The singer chronicled her divorce journey in her February EP, Rolling Up the Welcome Mat. She's been playing songs from that project, as well as her September 2022 Subject to Change album, on tour with Chesney as well as on her own Heartfirst Tour. The Heartfirst Tour will resume with a new string of dates between mid-June and early July.
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