Kelsea Ballerini and the three other songwriters behind her history-making hit "Love Me Like You Mean It" held a formal celebration for hitting No. 1 earlier this week. The singer looked back at her journey from Knoxville to Nashville during a media roundtable, and revealed the advice that ultimately led to the song's creation.

"It was when I first signed my publishing deal and I was so frustrated because I couldn’t get in the room with any of the big writers," Ballerini told media before the No. 1 party began. "And I just remember him saying ‘Kelsea, get in a room with people that you click with and it doesn’t matter.’”

We’re just young people in this town that have no business having a ton of success yet. People work their whole lives and never get to do what we’ve already been fortunate to do.

The 'him' who said it was wise old sage Forest Glen Whitehead, the 24-year-old producer and co-writer of the hit song. He, Ballerini, Josh Kerr and Lance Carpenter are good friends who write frequently together. That makes their success even sweeter.

The trio of co-writers and Ballerini talked about how they first met — Kerr was initially scared by the young singer's talent — and when the song began to take shape. “We weren’t even thinking about writing," Carpenter says. "We were just gonna eat pizza.”

“That’s kind of how we’ve always done it,” Ballerini adds. “I write with them all the time. It’s always kind of like, if we find something or have an idea and we’re inspired, let’s write. If not let’s go grab lunch and talk about everything. We never put too much pressure on it.”

Love Me Like You Mean It
Black River Entertainment

Whitehead remembers trying to write a totally different song before one of them called Soulshine Pizza. Once their bellies were full, the song came quickly. "Love Me Like You Mean It" was released to radio in September 2014 and became a No. 1 hit on July 4, 2015. Ballerini is just the ninth solo female artist to have her debut single reach the top of the charts. More people have walked on the moon!

The rising star recognizes that she's now a role model for the next group of young singer-songwriters, much like Taylor Swift was for her. “As a young, blonde singer-songwriter it was like, ‘This is my girl,’” she says, smiling as she almost always is.

“She was such a great example of being real … so I think for me I learned that being a role model is just being real," Ballerini adds, "And not trying to be perfect, just being honest.”

After several rounds of emotional speeches at the ASCAP building in Nashville, the group invited gatherers to eat and drink in celebration of their first, and Black River Entertainment's first, No. 1 hit. Soulshine Pizza was served, of course.

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