Kelsea Ballerini Talks New Album

(Radio.com) "Don't ever be too scared to see something you want and go get it," Kelsea Ballerini writes on the album sleeve of her debut The First Time. It's this encouragement and optimism that is evident throughout Ballerini's 12 songs, all of which she wrote or cowrote. The country singer-songwriter began writing songs after her parents divorced when she was 13 as a way to cope.

Curiously, she had no idea at the time that that the music she was writing was actually country. "I grew up on Top 40 pop," Ballerini tells Radio.com during a recent visit to our New York studio. "I didn't know what country music was, which is so funny because I grew up on a farm in East Tennessee. When I was writing them I didn't know where they would fit, and then I heard [Keith Urban's] 'Stupid Boy' on my friend's MySpace page."

Ballerini went out and bought Urban's record, as well as albums by Taylor Swift, Sugarland and the Dixie Chicks, and thus began her country music schooling.

The "Love Me Like You Mean It" singer has been a fan of Swift ever since, and it's hard not to compare the two. Both artists begged their mothers to move to Nashville in their teens, and both got songwriting deals at a young age. Much like Swift, Ballerini admits to stalking her fans on social media through hashtags and leaving comments on their Instagram accounts. So it comes as no surprise that Swift found herself a fan of Ballerini earlier this year when she tweeted about listening to Ballerini's EP.

That single tweet earned her a good deal of new attention, and it's something Ballerini is still excited about. "As a young singer songwriter in country music, she's the one to look up to. She was a trailblazer for the rest of us," Ballerini says of Swift. "The fact that she was listening to my music is a really big deal to me. Girls need positive girls. I'm drawn to positive female artists, and I just want to be another one for other girls to be drawn to." Read more here.

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Copyright Radio.com/CBS Local - Excerpted here with permission.

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