Kelsea Ballerini and Noah Kahan Break Stereotypes with ‘Cowboys Cry Too’

Ballerini’s next musical era starts now with this empowering Noah Kahan duet.


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

June 28, 2024


1:26 pm

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Kelsea Ballerini, Noah Kahan; Photo by Patrick Tracy

Kelsea Ballerini’s next musical era is upon us and it starts with “Cowboys Cry Too,” featuring GRAMMY nominee Noah Kahan

This genre-bending collaboration aims to break down stereotypes associated with men and showcase that tough men, even cowboys, have feelings too. While society expects them to be strong and never waiver under pressure, the artists acknowledge that everyone, including strong, rugged cowboys, experiences moments of vulnerability and deep emotions.  

The song kicks off with Ballerini’s stunning vocals on the first verse. 

Cowboys Cry Too Cover Art; Provided Courtesy of Patrick Tracy and Black River Entertainment
Cowboys Cry Too Cover Art; Provided Courtesy of Patrick Tracy and Black River Entertainment

“He’s as tough as the tattoos up his right arm/ And I’ve talked him down from getting in a fight or two/ He stands his ground, he’s as stubborn as the weeds in the backyard/ ‘Cause growing up, he had to go where the wind blew/ He hides his heart and hurt, guess he kinda had to/ In a world that says, ‘Saddle up and be a man’/ When the sun goes down and his hazel eyes go blue/ That’s when I understand,” she sings. 

After the first chorus, Kahan joins in on his self-written verse before they join together in harmons on the next chorus.  

“’Cause cowboys cry too/ They may not let ’em fall down in their hometown thinkin’ they still got shit to prove/ That well runs deep/ But when he’s showin’ his skin, lettin’ me in, that’s when he’s toughest to me/ I never knew cowboys cry too,” they sing. 

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Ballerini originally wrote the song with producer Alysa Vanderheym and later had the idea to bring in a male voice.  

“I always just thought, I think this song could be more impactful if there was a male counterpart that would go there to just rip open his chest and bare his soul and tell his side of that story. And I’m such a fan of Noah, that whole record. He is so willing to just be so open and vulnerable,” she explained during an interview on Today’s Country Radio on Apple Music Country. ”And so I texted it to him and he was like, ‘I love writing about this concept of men being vulnerable and not being scared to go there. And can I just have a couple weeks on the road to work on a verse?’ And I was like, ‘Absolutely.’ Sent it to him with an open verse.”

Before the ACM Awards, where they joined together on stage, they got into the studio and it all came together.  

“And he was like, ‘All right. Let’s pull up the track.’ So we did. And he was like, ‘This is just what I’ve written. Hadn’t seen it before or anything. Just let me know what you think. No worries if we want to change anything,’” she recalled. “And he sang it word for word for what his verse is. And I was so grateful because he didn’t round any edges. He was like, ‘Here’s my story, here’s my perspective.’ And I was just like chill bumps on chill bumps. I was so grateful.”

Of the concept for the song, Ballerini shared, “In our world and culture and echo chamber of highlight reels and pretty things, sometimes real feelings start to feel like something you just set aside or push down to keep up Especially the way so many men grow up, that kind of toxic masculinity mindset of ‘saddle up, brush it off’. I wanted to write my perspective and essentially celebrate the vulnerable men in my life, and Noah adding his really unfiltered perspective into it just brought it to life in a more meaningful and beautiful way.”

Kahan added, “It’s the writers who are willing to go to the awkward places that inspire me. Kelsea is one of those, and I knew if we could find something we both believed to sing, it would expand how we look at the way we live, what society decides and we should reject. ‘Cowboys Cry Too’ is everything I believed our collaboration could be.”

Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Daniel Prakopcyk
Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by Daniel Prakopcyk

“Cowboys Cry Too” follows Ballerini’s wildly successful Rolling Up The Welcome Mat, an emotional project sinpired by the emotions she felt before, during, and after her highly publicized divorce. A release date for her next project has yet to be confirmed.

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Lauren Jo Black

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Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for and her work being featured on She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.