Kelsea Ballerini Reveals Her Newest Record Is Inspired by ’90s Country, Especially Shania Twain

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for CMT)

Less than a month after her fourth studio album Subject to Change made its debut, Kelsea Ballerini opens up about what and who inspired the record. 

While speaking to Variety about the album, Kelsea Ballerini says that the record is mainly inspired by ‘90s country, specifically her idol Shania Twain. “Obviously the whole record is inspired by ‘90s music” Ballerini explained. “Specifically women in country. And so we wrote in the modulation and we were trying to figure out a way for the pre-chorus to lift into it. And we were like, ‘Guys, how do we not obviously step on Shania and Mutt and what they did, but pay homage to what they did?’ So we took every page out of their book.”

Kelsea Ballerini also says that Twain is her queen. “Everyone knows it. My God, what an incredible artist. And the more I get to know her, the more I’m like, ‘Of course you’re Shania Twain. You couldn’t be cooler.’”

Kelsea Ballerini discusses how she did a salute to Twain on the ACM Honors show. “When they asked me to honor her, I was like, ‘How do we do this bigger?’” Ballerini recalls. “And so the dress happened, but then also, I was like, ‘If I’m gonna do Man! I Feel Like a Woman, I want her Vegas dancers shirtless on the stage of the Ryman.”

Kelsea Ballerini points out that Twain has done a lot for country music over the years. “She pushed every boundary, and that needs to be recognized. Because people still are like [about Ballerini’s performance], ‘Oh my God, they didn’t have shirts on.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, and they didn’t in the ‘90s either. Calm down!’”

Kelsea Ballerini Shares Details About Her Personal, Late-Night Talk With Shania Twain 

As she continues to chat about Shania Twain, Kelsea Ballerini discusses her personal, late-night talk with the country music legend after the ACM Honors special. 

“I’ve known her for a couple years now,” Kelsea Ballerini explains. “And we’ve had a really beautiful mentor-mentee relationship. This conversation was before the news came out about what I’m going through [with the divorce], but I was experiencing it and I needed advice.” 

Kelsea Ballerini says that she and Twain had a big celebration dinner with both of their teams and gave cheers to Twain’s award. She then sat on Twain’s balcony for a couple of hours. “She just was really honest and open and warm and lovely. Right now I have fewer artist friendships than I’ve ever had, but the ones that I do have are actually genuine friendships. I put her in that category.” 

In regards to the advice Twain gave her, Kelsea Ballerini stated that it wasn’t anything to do with Twain taking off 15 years. “Her advice was, ‘You owe people music, and that’s it.’”