A “moment of boldness” and some personal reflection made Kelsea Ballerini’s “Half of My Hometown” a hit

As Kelsea Ballerini’s duet with Kenny Chesney, “Half of My Hometown,” sits at the number-two spot on the country charts, the singer is reflecting on the deeply personal backstory that inspired the song.

“Obviously, I live in Nashville, but Knoxville is my hometown and I started going [to my] hometown more. I started going home to see my dad,” the singer says, adding that her relationship with Knoxville, Tennessee has continued to evolve and change since she first left home.

“I was so excited to leave when I was 15 because I just wanted to go to Nashville and be a country singer,” Kelsea remembers. “I never took the time to miss it until recently, and that’s what that song’s about. It’s about that tug of war: I love it, but I want to leave, but I love it, but I want to leave.”

As for her superstar duet partner? Kelsea says she sent Kenny — who’s also from Knoxville — the song in a moment of uncharacteristic boldness.

“He is my hometown hero,” she explains. “I really had only had a couple of interactions with him before, but I had this random blackout moment of boldness where I just hit ‘send’ and texted him the song. I’m telling you, that is so not my personality, but I did it.”

Being brave paid off. Kenny lends his vocals to “Half of My Hometown,” and the finished product won Kelsea her first-ever CMA Award in 2021, for Musical Event of the Year.

In addition to becoming a top-five radio hit, “Half of My Hometown” also earned a nomination for Music Event of the Year at the upcoming ACM Awards.

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