Kelsea Ballerini has taken country music by storm, but her appeal stretches far beyond Nashville.
If you're a country music fan, you undoubtedly recognize Kelsea Ballerini's songs, but even if you don't listen to country radio, there's a good chance you recognize her as a certified member of Taylor Swift's squad.
While there are some notable differences between the two stars -- Kelsea calls Nashville (not NYC) home and has no plans to move, owns a dog (not cats) and is still very much the face of female country music (Taylor now belongs solely to pop) -- it's not hard to see how they became friends, nor is it a stretch for some to dub Kelsea Ballerini "the new Taylor Swift."
The real similarity between the two singers, though, comes from the fact Kelsea Ballerini is on a fast-track rise to mega stardom in the music world -- and she's only just getting started.
With three number ones ("Love Me Like You Mean It," "Dibs" and "Peter Pan") off her debut studio album, The First Time, two major CMA nominations, plans to headline her first tour later this year and 565K followers on Instagram, the 23-year-old's life is a pretty exciting spiral right now.
KelseaBalleriniVEVO on YouTube
Kelsea is totally relatable. She describes herself as "awkward," enjoys binge-watching TV shows ("Stranger Things" is her latest obsession) and is bound and determined to make her new tour bus feel girly (it previously belonged to Josh Turner whose "boyness" she is trying to get rid of with candles and throw pillows).
While her music is unapologetically country, it has distinct hints of pop, too. Her songs are also deeply personal because she writes her own music, a fact her diehard fans don't take for granted.
I got the chance to talk to Kelsea about her whirlwind rise to the top of the country charts, how she got her start and what it's like to be friends with Taylor Swift, someone she once stood in line to see.
Catching someone like Kelsea on the way up the fame ladder is a little surreal. When I asked her questions, she didn't pause to think about how her answers would come across.
Instead, it felt like I was talking with an old friend who was telling me about this world she's now a part of, one she's still kind of in awe over.
She's an open book -- a bubbly, grateful, 23-year-old open book who is currently in the midst of writing her next chapter (also, she's literally writing her next album) -- so check out her candid answers below.
How long has music been a part of your life? Did you always want a career in music?
What kind of music did you listen to when you were younger?
To look at your career as a fan, it seems like everything just clicked for you almost overnight. Was there a time when you were really frustrated and started thinking it might not happen for you?
What was it like hearing your songs on the radio for the first time?
You've had an incredible past couple of years in terms of career milestones. What are your biggest standout moments at this point?
KelseaBalleriniVEVO on YouTube
You also got to share a stage with Taylor Swift as part of her 1989 Tour. Were you always a fan of Taylor Swift and what was that experience like?
Is there any advice Taylor Swift has given you that really stands out?
You have CMA nominations for both New Artist of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year, a category which includes huge names like Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert. What's it like being in a category with these artists you've grown up listening to?
You have a really strong social media presence, but if you had to choose, Instagram or Snapchat?
As your fan base keeps growing, what are your general thoughts on social media? Do you still read people's comments? Do you feel an increasing pressure to post?
Kelsea knows a good night out starts with a good playlist so she hand-picked some songs to help get you ready. Check out your perfect weekend soundtrack below and don't forget to watch the CMAs on November 2!