Kelsea Ballerini is ushering in a new chapter — both in her personal life and in her music. The Grammy-nominated, country-pop superstar has been dominating music charts for the better part of the last decade — first releasing her debut single "Love Me Like You Mean It" back in 2014, and then continuing to churn out hit after hit ever since, with intimate country ballads that have not only grown up alongside Ballerini and her fans, but ones that have also helped the star to make sense of her own personal evolution.
Between wrapping up her tour, releasing another studio album, enduring a very public divorce, and emerging from all of it transformed with a new outlook on life (and love!), Ballerini's had a hell of a year — one that she's pored over, dissected, and graciously shared more about through her latest projects. Much like her friend Taylor Swift, the star has never shied away from playing with different pop sensibilities throughout her country-heavy catalog — but it's Ballerini's brutally honest and deeply personal songwriting that's resonated the most with her loyal fanbase.
If you look closely enough at Ballerini's career, you'll see a pattern of just how much personal connection plays a role in the singer's life, whether it be in her songs, her relationship with fans, or even in her brand collaborations — as evidenced by her newest partnership with Sonic. Ballerini recently teamed up with the fast-food chain for a summer "drink remix" that allowed the star to infuse her own go-to flavors into one of the brand's most staple drinks: the Ocean Water. True to her reputation, the campaign represented something much bigger (and frankly much more personal) for Ballerini.
"I actually have very real memories growing up with Sonic. My high school in Knoxville was like 0. 3 miles from a Sonic, and it's one of those sensory things where when I taste an Ocean Water, I taste high school — it's such a strong memory for me," Ballerini tells POPSUGAR. "We would go there after school or if we got to leave early or before games, that was always the spot that everyone would congregate. So, when they approached me about doing a remix, I was like [firstly] this brings me back to such a beautiful place in my life. And [secondly] I'm currently remixing a record too, so it felt very aligned with where I was at musically."
Sonic tapped Ballerini along with other artists like Lainey Wilson, JP Saxe, and Metro Boomin to participate in the campaign, and her refreshing rendition of the Ocean Water includes unique added flavors like blue raspberry and lime.
To celebrate her limited-time collaboration with Sonic, we had the opportunity to chat with Ballerini about her specially curated drink for the brand, plus everything else that she considers to be an essential in her day-to-day — from an astrology app to a comfy orthopedic pillow and even a designer duffel bag that was gifted to her by friend and former touring buddy, Rascal Flatts (casual!). Keep reading to shop her picks.