I’m guessing that I’m not the only one who has been too stressed out with work to get into the holiday spirit just yet. Well, if you can relate, do yourself a favor and have a listen to “Christmas Kisses,” the latest single from Heather Ballentine, “Music’s Favorite Pinup Girl” and Country Music Television’s (CMT) official Fresh Face Featured Artist for the month of December. The accompanying music video premiered last month and I had a chance to chat with the singing, songwriting, acting, and modeling (quadruple threat) pinup girl who told me about, among other things, her favorite things about Christmastime (And one of the reasons she’s so happy to currently be living in Canada.)
“I grew up in the dirty South, like deep Southern Arkansas, where it rarely snows, so a white Christmas is a really big deal for me, but I definitely have some really great memories. My dad really loves Christmas and we didn’t necessarily have a ton of money, but he’d go to the dollar store and go all out, so even if the gifts weren’t expensive, there’d be a lot for us to unwrap. And then then there were all the women cooking in the kitchen, me, Mom, Grandma. It was a total Southern belle thing.”
However, when I ask Heather what she’s most excited for this Christmas she laughs and tells me she’s really most excited about having a holiday in general: “I’m just happy to have a couple days off when I can kick around in my PJs all day, if I wanted… maybe play some guitar.”
Heather Ballentine’s latest album, The Cat’s Meow, was released in July. Like her look, her sounds are certainly retro, pure 1950s teen rebellion, to be specific, a soulful, twangy brand of Rock’N’Roll that will likely make you want to revisit John Waters’ Cry-Baby, if you haven’t recently. The album was produced and arranged by Pete Anderson, whom Heather tells me she was a long-time fan of, who she had more or less fantasized about working with, and who totally lived up to her expectations: “Working with Pete Anderson has been such a highlight of my career. I was always such a fan of his and remember seeing him in videos with Dwight Yoakam and he was everything I’ve ever imagined and now I feel like I’ve been spoiled [laughs]. I would always imagined he would really get me, and he did.”
During our conversation, when Heather becomes most enthusiastic, is when she’s discussion this pinup identity of her, which isn’t something she construct as a mere marketing tool, but something she’s embodied from a very young age.
“My mother was named after Marilyn Monroe and I was always into retro hairdos and retro fashion. Instead of going to a mall to shop, I would hit up a Goodwill. My grandma was very into retro fashion and my dad would always play retro music for me. My house is like a timewarp when you walk through it. It truly is who I am. I’m a pinup girl. I’m proud of having curves. I’m not a stick thin size 0. Thank God for people like Marilyn Monroe and Salma Hayek and Sofia Vergara, but we’ve just gotten there. I mean, Adele is kind of a pinup and Katy Perry is sort of like a pinup and they’re totally sexy, and I think that’s great. It’s like, ‘You don’t have to be naked on a wrecking ball to be sexy.’”