Kelsea Ballerini will never know what her life might have been like if she had never left Knoxville to pursue a career in country music in Nashville. Still, she can imagine what might have happened if she had played it safe, a scenario she allows to play out in the video for her current single, “Half of My Hometown.”
In the video, Ballerini stays in East Tennessee, gets married, has a baby, and works as a cosmetologist. It’s a life she very well could have experienced, if she had not had the determination inside of her that there was more she wanted than what Knoxville had to offer.
“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,” Ballerini tells People. “It feels very comfortable and very easy to play because I think it’s a very realistic picture of what my life would be like had I stayed.”
Fellow East Tennessee native Kenny Chesney joins Ballerini on “Half of My Hometown,” a collaboration that happened after Chesney initially reached out to her.
“He saw my name on the scrolling billboard in Times Square and took a photo of it, got my number and sent it to me and said ‘I’m so proud of you, hometown girl,’ because we’re both from Knoxville,” Ballerini told Taste of Country Nights. “It was the most encouraging, magical thing that could have happened to me two and a half years ago. I freaked out.”
While Ballerini obviously doesn’t have any regrets about her decision, “Half of My Hometown” does play out the burning question that is always in her mind of what life might have been like if she made a different decision.
“I wanted to ask what it’s like going back home now,” Ballerini told American Songwriter. “I think I was so eager to get out [of Knoxville] for so many years, because I wanted to be in Nashville, and I just wanted to be a country singer. [It wasn’t] until writing for this album the last two years, that I realized [Knoxville] is one of the best places in the world.”