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"[Nashville's] like Texas, but I can get work done, as well," says the CMA Female Vocalist of the Year nominee. "Everybody's kind of the same speed as Texans, and everybody's really nice and welcoming."
The pop superstar is currently juggling her time between the Lone Star state and a downtown Nashville condo, which sounds like a "Melrose Place" for celebrities. "Every star known to man has a condo there," she says. "[Living there] is the first step of, 'OK, I really like Nashville, but I don't know where I want to live yet, so let's live here for right now.' And then everybody ends up getting a place."
Adept at keeping her feet in both worlds, Kelly confesses she is more comfortable among fellow country stars than those in the rock world. "I do love pop music, but I think I have more of a Southern mentality. Even just emotionally, I'm more that girl. So I get along better with the Mirandas and the Blakes and the Jennifers and Rebas."
And Reba's stepson! Kelly has been dating Brandon Blackstock, who manages Blake Shelton and whose father, Narvel Blackstock (Reba's husband), is Kelly's manager. She admits to the Tennessean that she's "pretty in love."
Given all of her ties to Nashville, on top of her Grammy-nominated duet "Don't You Wanna Stay" with Jason Aldean (which earned the pair two ACM awards and sold more than two million copies), fans have wondered if Kelly would ever become a full-fledged country act. With her latest album, Stronger -- a blend of several different influences, including country, pop and R&B -- she hopes she put that question to rest.
"Everybody -- my record label, my manager, agents -- was pitching in with their two cents," she notes. "They were kind of pulling me in different directions, and my whole thing has always been, 'Guys, if it's a great song, let's just cut it, and not worry about where it lands. Whatever it ends up sounding like, that's great.'"
Kelly wrapped up the stateside leg of her current tour with a show in her new hometown of Nashville over the weekend. She'll enjoy a few days off before heading to Australia, then Ireland, and the U.K. See a list of her international shows here.