Kelsea Ballerini Boldly Delves Into Divorce In Raw, Emotional Short Film

By Kelly Fisher

February 14, 2023

Photo: Getty Images

Kelsea Ballerini told her side of the story of her very public divorce in her 6-track EP and short film, Rolling Up the Welcome Mat. Ballerini released the raw, heartbreaking project just in time for Valentine’s Day (February 14), seemingly reliving the steps that led to the couple’s split and the healing process that followed.

“here’s my healing journey. here’s my heart. here’s my truth,” Ballerini shared on her social media channels as her EP and short film — written and directed by Ballerini — premiered at midnight. “i’ve never been this open, i’ve never been this bold, and i’ve never been this proud of my art. so with love and respect, i’m rolling up the welcome mat. six song story and short film out now. happy valentine’s day. ❤️‍🩹”

Ballerini seemed to reflect on her divorce from fellow singer-songwriter Morgan Evans as she released the 6-track collection and accompanying 20-minute short film, which captures Ballerini and an actor playing her love interest seemingly going through the motions of their marriage until they end up going their separate ways. Rolling Up the Welcome Mat opens with Ballerini on the phone, presumably talking with her husband who isn’t coming home as soon as she expected: “I just thought you were on the red eye. Ok. No…I’m not mad, I just — I just haven’t seen you. Ok. Yeah, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

That’s when Ballerini steps inside the home, dropping her keys on the welcome mat as she goes inside. She sits down at a table that was meant for the two of them, beginning the short film with “Mountain With A View.” The first song of the short film and the EP’s track list seems to respond to Evans’ heartbreak song, “Over For You.” In it, Evans sings: “I would’ve searched the whole world over for you/ Took a flight, through the night/ To be that shoulder for you/ I would’ve let go if you wanted me to/ How many times did you say you loved me when it wasn’t true/ I’m just wonderin’, how long has it been over for you?

Ballerini sings in “Mountain With A View”: “I'm wearin' the ring still, but I think I'm lyin’/ Sometimes you forget yours, I think we're done tryin’/ I realize you loved me much more at twenty-three/ I think that this is when it's over for me.” She goes through her story throughout the rest of the tracks:

  1. Mountain With A View
  2. Just Married
  3. Penthouse
  4. Interlude
  5. Blindsided
  6. Leave Me Again

Ballerini, 29, announced on her Instagram story in August 2022 that she and her now ex-husband were splitting up. She said at that time, in part: “This deeply difficult decision is the result of a journey of love, growth, and effort that ultimately has come to an end. …we are both fragile, actively healing, and showing up the best we can.”

Evans, 37, added in his own statement later, “I wish it were otherwise but sadly it is not.” He and Ballerini married in December 2017. They called it quits after nearly five years of marriage. Evans and Ballerini reportedly reached a divorce settlement in late 2022, and the Subject To Change artist said on stage at the legendary Grand Ole Opry in November that she “started my day at the courthouse finalizing my divorce, and then getting nominated for a Grammy [in the Best Country Solo Performance category for ‘HEARTFIRST’], and then getting the keys to my dream home, and now standing in the circle of the Opry. …And sh*t, if that ain’t country music, I don’t know what is.”

Ballerini seemingly referenced her dream home in “Penthouse,” a scene that portrays her playing the popular board game Life with her husband. (“It hurts putting sh*t in a box/ And now we don't talk/ And it stings rolling up the welcome mat/ Knowing you got half. …I just bought the house that we saw/ You said it was wrong/ I wanted it all along.”) Watch the full short film (warning: language) with its apparent references to Ballerini’s marriage, divorce and healing here:

Kelsea Ballerini
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