Britnee Kellogg’s “This Mess” celebrates the imperfection of life through the journey of taking care of kids through Mom guilt.

Donna Block
9 min readMay 24, 2024

Photo Credit: Desert Amiga Photography

“I was 6 years old when my grandparents took me to see Johnny and June Carter Cash live in Portland. I remember every single thing about that night. I remember how the room smelled and what they were wearing. It gets me teary just thinking about it. I remember leaving that concert and looking at my grandma and declaring that I was going to be a country singer and was not going to go to school anymore!” The classic child performer, ‘born singing and wearing high heels,’ hit the county fair circuit as early as you could. Started taking singing lessons at age 9 (but not singing professionally until age 23).

Your first trip to Nashville at age 15 started your drive to become a country music star. You were representing Washington in the Miss Teen America pageant, placing third runner-up overall but first runner-up in talent. How have the lessons you learned through your years on the pageant circuit helped you manage the ins and outs of your music career?

Pageants were truly one of the best things I could have ever done for my music career. I was in a pageant system called National American Miss for most of my pageant career, and you are not allowed to wear makeup until you’re in the teen division. They focus on community service, grades, poise, stage presence, and interviews. It taught me how to perform on stage for a panel of judges and ultimately taught me how to work in a crowd. I also learned how to carry myself on stage, interview and make eye contact, keep a schedule, prepare for a big show, etc. I truly believe I wouldn’t be the artist I am today without those experiences.

You married your high school sweetheart and had two sons, Caiden and Hudson. “I was married, and he held me back from doing what I want to do, and this is what I want to do. I pursued his dreams with him, then he decided to go pursue other women . . .” After the divorce, working full time as a single mom with a dream that wouldn’t die. “I can’t look back and wish I had done things differently, but yeah, there are times where I would now want to shake that 18-year-old and say, ‘Get your ass to Nashville. I chose to get married and have babies … and here I am. Looking back, I realize now that I spent far too much time sitting around waiting for him to give me some sort of permission to do what I had always wanted to do. I no longer have to do that.”

The dream carried you through a trip to Nashville to meet Taylor Swift after winning a Sing Like Taylor contest. “The most genuine, nice person, and extremely humble. She’s incredible.” How does Swift continue to influence you as an artist?

Taylor is just one of those artists that you look at and go, wow, this is a genius in so many ways. The way she plans every single detail, and her writing is just like having a conversation with someone. Everything she writes is so beautifully written in a way that seems so simple but powerful. We all want to fill arenas and sell millions of albums and seeing how she so beautifully executes everything, you can’t help but be inspired.

“When I left that marriage, I literally picked up where I left off, and I’ve never looked back. I had a lot of family support and an incredible support system around me, but it was hard. It was exhausting for a very long time.”

You want to be a good example for your children, “Like Jennifer Lopez said to me on Idol so many years ago, they’re better for it because they’re able to see you fighting for what you love so much. I come home from shows and my cup is full. I’m able to be a better mom.” Opening for Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, Little Big Town, Kane Brown, Chris Young, Lee Brice, and Martina McBride. What advice would you give to artists in a similar position as you once were?

Fight. No matter what your circumstances are, if you have a dream, IT MATTERS, and don’t let anyone tell you any different. I felt so stuck at times being a single mama and feeling like I was being judged for working all day at the bank and then heading to shows in the evenings and on weekends. Little by little I made my way, and my children saw my fight and my grit, and I know it not only inspired them, but it made me a better mama to fill my cup. It’s challenging and sometimes feels like you’re walking through quicksand, but if you have a dream that’s THAT important to you, CHASE IT.

“Back of My Mind,” co-written with Autumn McEntire and Eric Wickman. “Sometimes I will go into the writing room, and I will have these lyrics that don’t really rhyme, and I really don’t care. I will fight with everything that I have to put music out there that is real and music that people want and need to hear.” Putting an abusive relationship in the rearview, “As much as I don’t like the person he was in our marriage, I want my kids to see that we still have a level of respect for each other. It’s a song that basically says that I feel for his new wife, and I know what she might be going through. Maybe I shouldn’t feel like that, but I do. So, if she hears [this song], I want her to know that if she ever needs me, I’m here.” How difficult is it to perform live songs that are so personal in nature?

I love being able to sing songs that I can now see on the other side. It’s wild to have gone through the trenches in that marriage and now be able to stand on the other side and go, wow. I did that.

“Hey Mama,” co-written with GRAMMY-nominated songwriter Michael Farren, comes from going through a time of postpartum depression following the birth of your daughter. “I just remember feeling like I shouldn’t be so sad. Here I was with this beautiful life, this beautiful little girl, and this wonderful family. I was so blessed and so lucky, but I was just so sad. I have been wanting to write a song like ‘Hey Mama’ for a long time. Having her sing the song pushed the idea of the kid’s perspective through. It’s not just about us being reminded that we got this, but it’s also the reminder that our kids are the ones that think we are true superheroes.”

Do you think Harlow will follow in your footsteps and pursue a career in music?

It wouldn’t surprise me at all. Right now, her dream is to be a baseball player, because she just finished playing her first season of tee ball, haha. But she LOVES music, singing, and everything that comes with it.

Signing a distribution deal with ONErpm. Releasing a new single, “This Mess,” that celebrates the imperfection of life as you walk through the journey of taking care of your kids through Mom guilt. How do you make sure to take time to take care of yourself?

This is a funny one right now actually. Today is my birthday, and I woke up early to get the house in order, do laundry, dishes, etc., and now I am getting some work done with my coffee before I start my day. It’s REALLY hard to find time for myself to do things for myself. The gym is a must when I’m home. I love getting out all the stress there and leaving it. Whether it’s Yoga, Pilates, or a Strength Training day, I love having that time for myself. I am also a huge fan of monthly facials, and I try to take weekend trips with my best friends a couple of times a year to unplug.

“This is my story. I went through a really dark period in my life, it’s so odd I don’t even really remember a few months of my life almost like I was just trying to escape my reality. I hurt a lot of people because I didn’t love myself and didn’t believe I deserved love. Standing where I am today, I truly can’t believe how far I’ve come.”

“She’s Come A Long Way” is the title track off your upcoming album (co-produced by Autumn McEntire).

Your mom, Diane Dunning, and daughter joined other women in the song’s video, “My mom was a single mom growing up and she worked several jobs to make ends meet. We didn’t know it at the time, but she would pay bills and have just $60 left for groceries for the week with three kids. So, it’s just full circle for me to be able to stand next to her, someone that I admire so much and who really gave me my work ethic and fought for my dreams when I was younger.”

Can you share a fan story of how the song has empowered them?

I honestly don’t think I could pick one example. The messages I have received from women who have been through divorce, cancer, a job loss, health issues, etc. but have been inspired to keep going because of this song are just absolutely insane and the reason I write music. If ONE person can relate and can say that it has helped them in some way, I have done my job.

“Don’t give up just because other people don’t think you should be doing something. If you are passionate about something, then you need to do it, regardless of what people think or what people say. I don’t see anything wrong with being a mom and pursuing your dreams.” Learning to play guitar to be able to book solo gigs, “I had a guitar, and I knew how to play, like, two chords. It’s super fun to be able to pull up chord charts and play. It’s totally changed my career.” Moving to Arizona, and getting involved in a new music scene.

Singing the National Anthem. Tour dates.

Performing at the Inspirational Country Music Awards at the Grand Ole Opry.

CMA Fest in support of CMA Foundation and music education. How can we make sure music education is funded and available in all schools for all children to experience?

This is SO HUGE. I remember my music teacher, Mr. Sherman, being such a light in my life and one of the reasons I truly love music so much. We have to make sure we are voting locally and making sure that music stays a priority.

Family time. Can you share your go-to Trader Joe’s meals/recipes you love to make?

I LOVE this question. My FAVORITE Trader Joe’s meal is homemade pizza. We have the best time as a family putting our pizzas together, and it has become such a fun and delicious weekly tradition.





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