Kelsea Ballerini has embarked on an eventful journey since releasing her first-ever single nearly a decade ago.
The history-making superstar, nearing her 30th birthday, became the only female country artist ever to hit No. 1 with the first three consecutive singles from her debut album in 2015. iHeartRadio’s Amy Brown noted Ballerini’s breakthrough in addition to a few of the many accolades the East Tennessee-born artist has earned throughout her career, including Grammy nominations, ACM Awards, CMA Awards, the iHeartRadio Music Awards honor for Best New Artist and more.
Brown hosted Ballerini’s exclusive show in iHeartLand at State Farm Park on Friday evening (August 18). She reflected on the moments that made the “HEARTFIRST” singer-songwriter’s 2023 “quite a year so far, including the surprise EP that she wrote and co-produced, along with an accompanying short films directed with P Tracy. Ballerini also made her highly-anticipated Saturday Night Live debut, where she delivered an unexpected added verse to “Blindsided” that made it onto her recently-released extended version of the “extremely intimate and personal” album, Rolling Up The Welcome Mat. Ballerini’s Rolling Up The Welcome Mat (For Good) arrived on August 11.
It’s been quite the year for Ballerini, though she opted to start her exclusive show in Fortnite with a throwback hit from her first-ever full-length album, The First Time, in 2015: “Peter Pan.” That song quickly became a staple in Ballerini’s career, along with “Love Me Like You Mean it,” “Dibs,” “Yeah Boy” and other fan-favorites from that album.
Ballerini, who took the stage in a vibrant yellow look with rhinestone accents, led into her “sassy” anthem from her next era of music, 2017’s Unapologetically, remembering the single as “the first time that I felt brave enough to go out of my comfort zone and push boundaries sonically, and write with people that didn’t necessarily just do one thing, but kind of wrote for a lot of different kinds of music, and had a lot of different ideas. It was the first time that I learned that I could be sassy on the radio, and I’ve never looked back since,” Ballerini told the Roblox crowd as she introduced “Miss Me More.”
Months before Ballerini surprised her fans by dropping Rolling Up The Welcome Mat on Valentine’s Day — intimately telling her side of the story of her high-profile divorce from fellow singer-songwriter Morgan Evans after nearly five years of marriage — she released Subject To Change. The 15-track album had been in the works for years, largely inspired by female country artists of the 90s. Songs like the the title track, “The Little Things, “HEARTFIRST,” “You’re Drunk, Go Home” (with Carly Pearce and Kelly Clarkson), “Love Is A Cowboy” and others offered singalong-worthy moments during Ballerini’s live performances since the album released last September. Arguably no other song earned a “scream-sing” moment, however, more than “If You Go Down (I’m Goin’ Down Too)” (particularly, the lyric: “Hypothetically, if you ever kill your husband/ Hand on the Bible, I’d be lying through my teeth”).
Ballerini performed the “unhinged” anthem made for a group of best friends toward the end of her set in iHeartLand, and then switched gears to two of the most popular, emotional tracks from Rolling Up The Welcome Mat (For Good): “Penthouse” and “Blindsided” (closing the exclusive performance with the now-iconic added verse: “Yeah, Sure, Okay”).
“This song hits different than any hit I’ve ever had. I don’t know why,” Ballerini said of “Penthouse,” opting to perform the “healed version” that appears on her newly-released extended EP. “I just feel like this song has taught me to tell the most detailed truth that I ever can, and I promise as an artist to do nothing but whatever I found in this song from now on.”
To keep the party going, Jake from State Farm closed the event by inviting iHeartLand players to check out mini games, or players could opt to show off their best dance moves on the State Farm Park dance floor. Mini games include obstacle courses, high-speed races and more.
Roblox players can check out a new and improved game loop for iHeatLand: Radio Simulator, joining friends at concerts to become an iHeartRadio star. Players can also gather sound energy from sound fields around iHeartLand, collect and upgrade radios and complete quests to win requests (or get quests from Jake from State Farm in the State Farm Neighborhood). There’s a new limited UGC item on Roblox, available this weekend only, the fabulous iHeartCountry Aura from iHeartRadio (collect sound energy in the sound field in front of the stage at State Farm Park to earn the iHeartCountry Aura. There will be a limited quantity of 1k per event day). Also, Roblox users can head backstage for a special interview with Ballerini.
Kelsea Ballerini’s special iHeartLand show is available for a limited time only, now through Sunday (August 20) at 7 p.m. ET.