Half of My Hometown

Album: Kelsea (2020)
Charted: 53
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Songfacts®:

  • Kelsea Ballerini was born and raised in the East Tennessee city of Knoxville. This song is an ode to the singer's hometown and how her relationship to it changed after leaving. Ballerini also talks how about half of the people she knew growing up stayed in Knoxville, while the other half left.

    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


    "I wanted to ask what it's like going back home now," Ballerni explained to 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."
  • Ballerini's duet partner, Kenny Chesney, also hails from Knoxville. Speaking with Taste of Country Nights, Ballerini remembered a show she played at New York City's Playstation Theater back in April 2018. Chesney was also in the Big Apple at the time, and he noticed her name on a billboard outside the venue. "[He] took a photo of it, got my number and sent it to me, and said, 'I'm so proud of you, hometown girl,'" she recalled.
  • Chesney was Ballerini's first and only choice to be her duet partner on this song because of their Knoxville link. However, the chances seemed remote as the country superstar rarely signs on to guest on an outside song. His previous featured artist credit was on Grace Potter & the Nocturnals' "Stars" back in 2012.

    Ballerini was determined to get Knoxville's most famous son on the track. As soon as she'd finished recording her vocal part, she sent it to Chesney as a text message. "Next day, he wrote back, and he was like, 'I love this song. It made me emotional listening to it,'" Ballerini recalled. "Because, you know, I think we have really similar upbringings."
  • Kelsea Ballerini and Kenny Chesney delivered a soulful rendition of the song at the 2021 ACM Awards. Ballerini told Audacy's Kelly Ford the performance was a full-circle moment for her. She remembered driving around Knoxville, dreaming of being a big star one day as she listened to such songs as Chesney's 2004 hit "I Go Back," while "thinking how crazy it was he was from the same place."

    "If I could go tell her that we were going to sing this song about our hometown together on a stage like the ACMs," Ballerini added. "I'd just, I'd pass out."
  • The song's visual unfolds a "what if" scenario as Ballerini imagines an alternate history of her staying in Knoxville. Director Patrick Tracy shot the scenes at the singer's high school and near her childhood home.

    "The whole idea of the video is playing out the hypothetical life that I probably would have had if I didn't leave," Ballerini told Audacy's Coop. "It was so beautiful, but at the same time I'm so glad that's not where my life led me."
  • The song won for both Musical Event of the Year and Music Video of the Year at the 2021 CMA Awards. They marked Ballerini's first CMA trophies and added to Chesney's long list of CMA wins.

Comments: 1

  • Cam from OhioKelsea Ballerini sings this song beautifully. It is so heartfelt; the emotion in her voice matches the story these words tell to perfection. Really, Ballerini should be a bigger star than she is. She is an incredibly gifted artist.
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