By Amanda Wicks
At 23 years old, country artist Kelsea Ballerini finds herself in good company for the Best New Artist award at the 59th Annual GRAMMY Awards. Out of the five nominations, she and country-pop newbie Maren Morris are contending for the honor, a point that has Ballerini excited for the future of women in country music. “Women are resonating right now,” Ballerini told Billboard.
2017 doesn’t mark the first year Ballerini has been eligible for a GRAMMY, but it took her hit single “Peter Pan” to turn the necessary heads to get a nomination. The ballad earned Ballerini her first number one hit on Billboard’s Top Country Songs chart and secured her presence in the music industry. Here are three things to know about the budding country star.
1. She’s Besties with Taylor Swift
As a young blonde country singer based in Nashville, there are more than a few reasons to draw parallels between Ballerini and country-turned-pop phenom Taylor Swift. Beyond their musical similarities, the two are actually good friends. In fact when Ballerini posted a video previewing a track, many thought she was in the studio listening to a new Swift song. But it turned out to be a new Ballerini number. She’s hard at work on her sophomore studio album, after all.
2. She’s Recently Engaged
Australian country singer Morgan Evan asked Ballerini to marry him on Christmas Day in 2016, and from the way he proposed to the custom ring he had designed for her in Nashville, Ballerini shared it all on Instagram. Their romance falls under the “whirlwind” variety. The two met while hosting an awards ceremony earlier that year in March, but their connection was undeniable. “When you know, you know…she’s perfect,” Evan said about Ballerini.
3. She Grew Up in Tennessee
Ballerini didn’t have to drive far to land in Nashville, the country music capital. She grew up about 180 miles east in Knoxville, and has always had country music in her blood. “I realized I didn’t have to try to write music to ‘sound’ country—I’m from Tennessee!” she said about finding her style and developing her songwriting. “All I have to do is open my heart and open my mouth and country comes out.”