Kelsea Ballerini’s latest EP, Rolling Up the Welcome Mat, seems to have rolled out a welcome mat for people to speculate about her personal life and she’s having none of it.
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Ballerini got vulnerable and wore her broken heart on her sleeve with the release of her Rolling Up The Welcome Mat project and coinciding short film last Valentine’s Day. The EP centered around emotions evoked by her divorce from fellow Country singer, Morgan Evans, whom she wed in 2017.
“Rolling Up the Welcome Mat was how I processed everything,” she said at the time of the project’s release. “It's the way I got my feelings out of my body and heart and put them to music — which is the purest way I could've handled it."
The divorce album was a big shift for 29-year-old, who has become well-known for her glittery, Pop-Country style. Now, a few months away from 30 and a few Country albums into her career, she says she’s just starting to discover more sides to herself, something that is apparent in her music.
“I always thought of myself as one thing, which was a glittery, palatable blonde that sings Country music," she shared with StyleCaster. “I’ve realized over the last few years, as I’ve woken up to myself, and really stepped into my womanhood, that I’m really open to discovering more of myself… I think that’s translating in a lot of different ways in my life.”
While Ballerini explores and evolves herself and her music, the public seems to have had a heightened interest in her personal life. As the internet pecks away at her every move sharing unasked for opinions and harsh critiques, Ballerini says she stays far away from the comments, something she had to learn the hard way.
“I discovered Reddit in 2022 and I no longer go on Reddit,” she said. “I would read situations of what people had thought of me or what people had heard about me, or people’s interactions of meeting me, and they were negative. That guts me; that s*** really gets to me.”
Despite the negative Nacy’s in the world, the Knoxville native says she has no regrets expressing her true self and even aspects of her personal life — like going public with her new relationship with Outer Banks star, Chase Stokes, in February 2023.
“The thing that we’ve decided — and to each their own — is when you’re with someone that you feel secure with and that you’re proud to be with, why not share it?” she questioned. “He’s also a Virgo; we’re both Labrador Retrievers in human form. It doesn’t take much conversation to be on the same page. It’s been half a year and it’s been great.”
Happy as can be in her new relationship, it sounds like Ballerini still has some healing to do as her producer, Alysa Vanderheym, says an extended version of Kelsea’s Rolling Up The Welcome Mat EP is in the works. While some (including Kelsea) may question why this album is the one that gave her a “big break,” she’s taking it as confirmation to remain vulnerable and authentic.
“I’m like, ‘Why now?' And the answer I keep getting is because when you honor yourself—and you do the right thing for everyone—but you’re really honoring yourself, you create the space within your soul and your body and your heart to welcome what’s meant for you,” she stated. “So I do feel like there’s some kismet stuff happening just because I have space for it now.”
She concluded, “All the things that I’ve always done are because that’s actually who I am at my core. [But] I am actively working to protect the normalcy.”