Kelsea Ballerini drew attention with her latest EP entitled Rolling Up The Welcome Mat. The six-track offering, which follows her 2022 album, Subject to Change, further details Ballerini’s healing process following her divorce from fellow country artist Morgan Evans.
One person in particular who had a strong reaction to the project is Ballerini’s mother Carla Denham. Appearing on the latest episode of the Got It From My Momma podcast, Denham discussed her famous daughter’s EP and shared her personal thoughts about the tracks that make up the collection and the short film, which coincides with the release.
“As she was sending me those songs as she’d write them, my heart would just, I mean, I would just ball,” Denham told host Jennifer Vickery Smith, who launched the podcast as a way to shine the light on mothers of country music stars. “The songs were hard enough to listen to, but I know it’s cathartic for her. That’s her way of processing hurt, pain, and hard, and then to write it, and then it’s out of her. I’ve seen that time and time again.”
“When she decided to do the mini film – I wasn’t there for the filming – but she wrote the script, for it. So she was sharing all that with me, and I’m thinking, ‘God, this is, how are you going to do that?’ I couldn’t do that. There’s no way I could get up there,” Denham said before unveiling her protective motherly instincts.
Denham continued, “If she’d have hired an actress to do that, it still would’ve hurt for me to watch it. But to watch her acting out what she really felt and experienced, was just that blend between, I’m in total awe when she showed me the piece, total awe, and I just wanted to take her and put her in a plastic bubble and let’s just go away somewhere away from the world.”
Speaking of protecting her child, Denham said she doesn’t usually intervene when it comes to social media, but she did step in at one point when she felt the urge to clap back at trolls who were saying hurtful things about her daughter.
“I have never been one to comment or do any of those things. But, I did it the other day,” Denham said. “It wasn’t even about the EP. It was before the EP, and I have to be careful because people know who I am and that I’m her mother. So things that I put out there, I don’t want to embarrass her or anything, but it’s ridiculous. It does make me mad.”
“She’s the greatest gift I’ve ever had. So it bothers me when you see people. It bothers me, in general, when people say ugly comments publicly about somebody you don’t even know. That just irritates me,” she added. “One of the things I’ve always told her, and it’s because I didn’t learn this when I was growing up, is if you have something to say or you’re in a situation where you are not comfortable, use your voice. You were given a voice for a reason… It’s taken a while for her to get to a place where she’s comfortable using her voice and to be able to say what she really feels and to be able to speak up for herself, speak up for others… I’ve watched that film and the pain on her face – I’ve seen that pain. It’s a real pain. I mean, that’s real pain on her face.”
Denham says she relates to how Ballerini heals from difficult situations, noting the singer/songwriter’s steely resolve, which she says “comes from me.” She also acknowledged that the reason behind the release is so that other women, who share a similar story to Ballerini, don’t have to feel alone while going through their own divorce or separation.
“She’s fiercely independent and strong-willed. I understand her because that’s the way I was, growing up with my family. So I’ve learned how to offer my advice instead of telling her what to do,” Denham shared. “I knew this would have an impact on so many women of all ages who have struggled with finding their voice, having the courage to walk away from something that was unhealthy, being bold and brave, just all of those things. I was hoping that that’s where the music would be received [and] I know that was the purpose that Kelsea put it out for. One, it’s cathartic for her writing it does that, but to put it out to the world means now you’re offering it up to somebody else.”
In August of 2022, Ballerini announced her divorce from Evans on Instagram, writing, “I’ve always tried to share my life with you in a real and vulnerable way while also protecting layers of my personal life as they unfold. This is now public record, so I wanted you to hear from me directly that I am going through a divorce. It’s hard to find the words here. But I feel extremely grateful for the years of marriage to Morgan and hopeful for the next seasons. With very active schedules coming up, please be mindful that we are both fragile, actively healing and showing up the best we can.”
Ballerini’s Rolling Up The Welcome Mat short film was released on Valentine’s Day 2023. The project includes songs “Interlude,” “Leave Me Again,” “Blindsided,” “Penthouse,” “Mountain With A View,” and “Just Married.”
“Here’s my healing journey. Here’s my heart. Here’s my truth. I’ve never been this open. I’ve never been this bold, and I’ve never been this proud of my art. Happy Valentine’s Day,” Ballerini wrote on Instagram, announcing the project.
In March, Ballerini will kick off the spring leg of her headlining Heartfirst tour, which begins in Toronto and features special guest Georgia Webster.
Later this year, she will join Kenny Chesney for his I Go Back Tour 2023.