Kelsea Ballerini’s No. 1 Marks a Milestone for Female Country Artists

During a year filled with discussions about the controversial dynamic between female artists and country radio, Kelsea Ballerini has managed to come out on top.

The newcomer beat the odds by landing a No. 1 hit with the infectious single, “Love Me Like You Mean It”. Not only is the gold-certified track her first number one, it marked the first time a solo female artist made it to the top of the charts since Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away” in 2013.

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At a recent party in Nashville, Tenn. celebrating the 21-year-old’s major musical achievements, Ballerini and songwriters Josh Kerr, Forrest Glen Whitehead and Lance Carpenter discussed how the track developed organically from a night of pizza and listening to Rihanna.

“The biggest thing is she knows who she is and what she wants to say,” Kerr said during the party, according to Rolling Stone Country. “There are always ideas that come about, but she knows, ‘This is how I would say this and I have this style.’ It just comes out of her naturally, which is very unique. Not a lot of people can do that.”

Even though “Love Me Like You Mean It” features sugary-sweet lyrics, it’s still written with substance. Ballerini’s artistic maturity has helped catapult her through the many obstacles female country artists face when trying to earn radio airplay. This milestone hopefully marks a new chapter for women in the music industry, who have consistently struggled to earn as many spins as their male counterparts.

For Ballerini, this moment in her career stands as both an achievement shared by all female artists, as well as a point legitimizing months of hard work in hopes of breaking into the mainstream.

“It wasn’t supposed to work, but it did,” Ballerini said to the crowd. “Thank you for already making looking back look so beautiful. And looking forward, I really just want to make you all proud.”

Ballerini just released her new single, “Dibs”, already climbing steadily up Billboard‘s country airplay chart. She’ll accompany Dan + Shay on their Right Kind of Crazy Tour, which hits venues across the U.S. throughout October.

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Kelsea Ballerini’s No. 1 Marks a Milestone for Female Country Artists