Kelsea Ballerini Admits Kelly Clarkson Inspired Early Career Aspirations


International Women's Day came to a conclusion with iHeartRadio Presents See Her Hear Her: Celebrating Women in Music, a virtual event honoring women all around the world. More specifically, the program honored the careers of Kelsea Ballerini, Cardi B and Gwen Stefani.

During the 40-minute broadcast, the country hitmaker, 27, spoke about a variety of topics, including social media and harnessing her position as a boss, but the most interesting bit arrived when she spoke about an early memory of seeing Kelly Clarkson in concert and how it was a game-changing moment for her aspirations as a performer.

"This particular show, the AC in the arena was out, so it was just so hot. She's on stage. She's barefoot. She's sweating. She's sounding better than the album," Ballerini recalled of her time as a 13-year-old at the 2005 "Behind These Hazel Eyes Tour." "All of a sudden she gets done singing a song and she just goes, 'Ooh. If y'all could smell me right now, none of you would be here.' I just remember being a kid and standing on my chair, sweating and thinking, 'That's what I want to be like.'"

Elsewhere in the special, Ballerini admitted it was her parents' divorce that led her to express herself via songwriting. "When I was 12, my parents were splitting up. I'm an only child. I knew I that needed a safe place and an outlet and a journal wouldn't cut it. I needed more. I needed something that I could pour my time and my heart into. Songwriting just fell into my lap," she explained. "I mean, I was doing glee club at school and I was leading worship at church and that kind of stuff, but it was songwriting for me that year that really just became that outlet, became that diary, that safe place for me. That was the thing for me that went, 'This isn't just a hobby. This is a passion.' I went from zero to 100. I went from writing my first song to wanting to come up on a hydraulic lift in an arena. A switch flipped and that was all of sudden what I was going to do with my life. I had no idea how. I had no idea when. Sometimes I'm still like, 'What am I doing?' I wrote my first song at 12. My mom was wonderful enough to move me to Nashville when I was 15. I signed my first publishing deal at 19. I was full speed ahead."

As for what it means to take control of her voice, Ballerini said, "I think, especially as a woman, finding your voice is the most important thing you can do and I also think that you're never done finding it."

Photo: Adrianna Casiano for iHeartRadio