Kelsea Ballerni’s third studio album, kelsea, is out now. Among the 13 tracks is “Half Of My Hometown,” a duet with country superstar Kenny Chesney.
Co-written by Ballerini alongside Shane McAnally, Ross Copperman, Jimmy Robbins and Nicolle Galyon, the song speaks to life after high school and shares how you still feel connected to the place you grew up, no matter if you stay or leave.
“Half of my hometown’s still hangin’ around/ Still talkin’ about that one touchdown/ They’re still wearin’ red and black/ Go Bobcats, while the other half/ Of my hometown they all got out/ Some went north Some went south/ Still lookin’ for a feelin’ half of us ain’t found/ So stay or leave/ Part of me will always be/ Half of my hometown,” goes the chorus.
After writing the heartfelt song during a songwriting retreat at the beach, Ballerini’s co-writers insisted that she text it to Chesney. Even though it was 2 am, Ballerini sent the text.
When Chesney joined Ballerini on her live Instagram chat Thursday night, she apologized to him for texting him in the middle of the night. Chesney assured her: “Don’t be sorry.”
“I got it the next morning and I went hmm… I wasn’t expecting that text and I turned on the song on the way to my workout and I knew I was gonna sing on it,” he said. “As soon as I heard the melody, as soon as I heard you, as soon as I heard what it said. It was just beautiful.”
Chesney went on to recall the moment he first heard the song and the instant connection he felt.
“Well, the first time I heard it, it really did, it spoke to me in a lot of ways and how I grew up and where I grew up. The streets I drove down… because I listened to that record and it just reminded me so much of my own family, it reminded me of some of the struggles that I left when I first left home,” Chesney explained. “And it’s just such a beautifully written song and Kelsea you sang it really great and you had a lot of heart in it. When you sent it to me, like I said, it just made me realize. My grandmother had just passed not long after that, and so you got me at a really good time and I will tell you this song was so great and your vocal on it was so great that it just really touched me a lot and I still am very proud to be apart of that song.”
“Half Of My Hometown” is undoubtedly one of Ballerini’s best songs to date. The inclusion of Chesney is the icing on the cake. And it makes total sense: they both grew up in East Tennessee. Ballerini’s hometown of Knoxville is less than 30 minutes from Chesney’s native of Luttrell.
Kelsea Ballerini’s new album is available to stream or download now.