Kelsea Ballerini Brings Nashville To ‘Neverland’ To Celebrate Third No. 1 Single

Pictured (L-R): ASCAP's Mike Sistad, Black River Publishing's Dave Pacula, ole's John Ozier, ASCAP's Beth Brinker, co-writers Kelsea Ballerini, Jessie Lee and Forest Glen Whitehead, producer Jason Massey, Black River Entertainment's Gordon Kerr, and BMI's David Preston. Photo: John Shearer

Pictured (L-R): Jason Massey, Kelsea Ballerini, Jesse Lee, Forest Glen Whitehead. Photo: John Shearer

Country’s newest golden girl Kelsea Ballerini brought industry colleagues and friends to “Neverland” to celebrate her third consecutive No. 1 single, “Peter Pan,” The shindig was held, appropriately, at a Nashville airplane hangar, which was draped with a white linen backdrop, and opened to a generous view of several aircrafts.

“Peter Pan” is the Black River Entertainment artist’s third chart-topper as both an artist and songwriter. Ballerini co-wrote the track with Forest Glen Whitehead and Jesse Lee. “Peter Pan” marked Lee’s very first No. 1 hit, and Whitehead’s second.

The track is from her now gold-certified debut album The First Time. Appropriately, The First Time also marks the first gold record for Ballerini’s recording home Black River Entertainment.

ASCAP’s Mike Sistad and Beth Brinker and BMI’s David Preston hosted. ASCAP honored Ballerini and Forest Glen Whitehead, while BMI honored Jesse Lee. Also on hand were ole’s John Ozier and Black River Publishing’s Dave Pacula.

First Tennessee Bank and Pinnacle Bank were also on hand to honor the writers. Pinnacle made a donation to Music Makes Us on behalf of the songwriters.

“This is probably the coolest No. 1 party I’ve ever been too, definitely,” said Pacula. “This is history-making. Kelsea is the fist female artist, including groups and duos to hit No. 1 with three their first singles, so congratulations. That’s pretty amazing and thank you to everyone who is on Team Kelsea. It takes a village, as you know. Most of you are standing in this room.”

 

Pictured (L-R): ASCAP's Mike Sistad, Black River Publishing's Dave Pacula, ole's John Ozier, ASCAP's Beth Brinker, co-writers Kelsea Ballerini, Jessie Lee and Forest Glen Whitehead, producer Jason Massey, Black River Entertainment's Gordon Kerr, and BMI's David Preston. Photo: John Shearer

Pictured (L-R): ASCAP’s Mike Sistad, Black River Publishing’s Dave Pacula, ole’s John Ozier, ASCAP’s Beth Brinker, co-writers Kelsea Ballerini, Jessie Lee and Forest Glen Whitehead, producer Jason Massey, Black River Entertainment’s Gordon Kerr, and BMI’s David Preston. Photo: John Shearer

Whitehead, Lee and Ballerini wrote “Peter Pan” approximately three years ago, before Ballerini had secured her deals with Black River.

“Forest and I had written one time before, and we loved it. From the time we wrote it, we knew we had something really special,” said Lee. “It just fell out with such ease that the only thing I can say is that there must have been fairy dust in the room that day. It was one of the most effortless writing sessions I’ve ever had, and the only one that I continued to get goose bumps throughout the couple of hours it took to write it. We all kept looking at each other, saying, ‘Oh my god, this sounds like a hit. Doesn’t this sound like a hit?’

“One day, after we wrote ‘Peter Pan,’ we were talking about how hard it is for girls in the music business,” continued Lee. “We said hopefully soon the pendulum would swing to women in country music, that she would have a fair shot at getting a record deal, getting her foot in the door. I’ll never forget when Kelsea said, ‘I want to be the artist that swings that back.’ Congratulations, Kelsea, you’ve done just that.”

The evening ended with a double-shot performance of Ballerini’s “Peter Pan,” followed by new single, “Yeah Boy.”

But the accolades weren’t finished just yet. Black River president/CEO Gordon Kerr surprised Ballerini and members of Black River Entertainment with a plaque commemorating Ballerini’s first gold album. She said, “As a creative person, the biggest gift you can give another creative person is to share your creativity, and that’s what these two people do with me. Forest was one of the first five people in Nashville who wrote with me. He’s my partner in crime. Jesse Lee, I remember when I moved to Nashville with my mom. Every morning I would wake up and watch videos on CMT and GAC. That’s how I learned who the songwriters were. I’d google the songwriters and the labels and directors and publishing companies. I will always remember watching, ‘It’s A Girl Thing.’ So when I found out I was writing with her, I was incredibly intimidated and excited. We’ve had this song as early as we had ‘Love Me Like You Mean It,’ and I think we were all just very protective of it, of putting it out at the right time. We wanted it to be special and magical, and it was.”

Ballerini also thanked the industry which has helped her ascend to the top of the charts.

“I’m very thankful, and I promise to always work really hard and I hope to always make you proud.”

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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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