Entertainment, On A High Note

Former S&E Nashville Up & Coming Spotlight Artist Kelsea Ballerini hits No. 1

Kelsea Ballerini, who was recently featured in our Up & Coming Artist spotlight, has just earned her first No.1 single, “Love Me Like You Mean It” on both the Mediabase and Billboard Country Airplay Charts. Ballerini’s debut single surpassed some major names in the world of country like Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood and Tim McGraw this week which is an accomplishment in itself, but it also makes Ballerini the first solo female act to occupy the No. 1 spot on the Mediabase since last June when Miranda Lambert’s hit “Automatic” hit No.1  Amazingly, the Billboard chart has not had a solo female act claim the top spot since Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away” back in November of 2012!

Ballerini's performance at the 2015 CMA Fest drew a crowd of over 4,000 to the Bud Light stage outside Bridgestone Arena. PHOTO BY MATTHEW MAXEY

Ballerini’s performance at the 2015 CMA Fest drew a crowd of over 4,000 to the Bud Light stage outside Bridgestone Arena. PHOTO BY MATTHEW MAXEY

Ballerini’s spot atop the charts with her debut single comes at a fortuitous time for women in country music, adding yet another pushback to the heavily disputed comments made by a local industry executive that it is difficult for radio stations to keep ratings up if they play too many female artists.

The fact Ballerini’s debut single hit No.1 puts her in elite company with the likes of Underwood, Wynonna Judd, Faith Hill and Trisha Yearwood who are just a few of the 10 ladies who have seen their first song soar to the top of the charts. Of late, many make the argument that Lambert, Underwood and Taylor Swift are really the only females that have had overwhelming success on country radio in the new era of “bro-country.”

“Going into this, my goal with this first single was to introduce myself,” Ballerini said. “I believed in this song for the minute we wrote it and I always thought it would be the right first single and a great introduction of me.”

She continued, “To be in a group with artist like Carrie Underwood, Faith Hill and Deana Carter that have had debut No. 1s and then had brilliant careers after that, makes me so excited for what’s to come.”

It has taken four years for a female artist other than the three mentioned before to have a No. 1 country song, but with Ballerini leading the way for a wealth of young female country artists, many see Ballerini as just the first of many more to come.

One of those is national radio host, Bobby Bones, who has been very outspoken about Ballerini and many other female artists in country music. Bones, who frequently has new artists on his show to showcase them to his millions of listeners, has had Ballerini on his show numerous times. She also spent some time on the road performing with Bones’ comedy band the “Raging Idiots.”

Ballerini letting fans sing her No. 1 hit, "Love Me Like You Mean It" back to her at CMA Fest in June. PHOTO BY MATTHEW MAXEY

Ballerini letting fans sing her No. 1 hit, “Love Me Like You Mean It” back to her at CMA Fest in June. PHOTO BY MATTHEW MAXEY

Last week, in the midst of his “Women of Country Music Week,” Bones even took a step out on a limb for “Love Me Like You Mean It,” playing it once an hour for the entire week to help its assent to No. 1, despite his bosses being less than thrilled about it. Later during one of his Periscope sessions with fans, Bones talked about playing the song so much and said, “I wouldn’t risk playing her song every hour and risk getting my butt in trouble if someone wasn’t awesome. Kelsea is awesome.”

The No. 1 hit was not just the first for the twenty-one year old Knoxville native, but also for her label, Black River Entertainment, which is an independent label.  The label, which also sports big names like Kellie Pickler and Craig Morgan, along with its newest addition – Bones’ “Raging Idiots” believes like many others that this is just the beginning for Ballerini.

Ballerini, who was just in Nashville performing during CMA Fest and played to an overflowing crowd of 4,000-plus fans on the Bud Light Stage at Bridgestone Arena, is expected to release a new single, Dibs, in the next few weeks. The second release from her debut album, “the first time” also already has the approval of Swift who back in March tweeted out that she had it playing on repeat while out driving around. With an endorsement like that, and a debut No. 1 to her credit already, the sky is certainly the limit for the former S&E Nashville Up and Coming spotlight artist.