by Marcus K. Dowling
“I love when a video can kind of make the song have a new meaning and bring a new life to it. And we wanted to do that with this one, just because it is so personal,” says Kelsea Ballerini to PEOPLE about the forthcoming video for her latest single, Kenny Chesney duet “Half of My Hometown.” The song is an ode to Knoxville, Tennessee, the hometown shared by the country icon and the fast-rising upstart.
To the “Hole in the Bottle” vocalist, the video “[paints] a very realistic picture of what my life would be like had I stayed [in Knoxville],” adding that she likely would be a parent with a few children and a cosmetologist had a career in Nashville not come calling for her at the age of 15 in 2008.
“I moved when I was 15 to Nashville and I couldn’t wait to leave. All I wanted was to go to Nashville and figure out how to be a country music singer,” she recalls. “So in my mind, Knoxville was the place that was holding me back. [However] I wouldn’t be the artist or the songwriter or the person I am if I hadn’t have had those 15 years here. I have a huge appreciation and respect for it now. I love my hometown.”
“It brings joy to my heart to know that I did leave, right? I got to chase this dream and that I’m getting to come back and like appreciate the life that I maybe could have had had I stayed,” Ballerini concludes. “It’s a very interesting juxtaposition, but it makes me happy.”