Kelsea Ballerini Turns CMA Awards Into Family Night

Looking Out and Looking Back

Kelsea Ballerini will be surrounded by love when she heads to the 50th annual CMA Awards on Wednesday (Nov. 2). She’s taking her boyfriend, Aussie country star Morgan Evans, to the show. Plus, her mom, stepdad, dad and stepmom from Knoxville, Tennessee, will be there for the big event.

“It will be a good date night for sure,” she said backstage at Sunday’s (Oct. 30) rehearsals. “I thought a lot about it, but he’s the best. He’s in music, and it’s good to be able to celebrate big milestones with the people you love.”

Although this year’s CMAs will feature the most performances in the telecast’s history, she’s not at all anxious about singing live in front of her entire country music family with the whole world watching. She will have people in the audience who love her no matter what.

“It’s very intimidating looking out in a crowd of Dolly Partons, Rebas and whoever may pop up at this year’s award show,” she said, “and it’s nice to know you can look back and see people who are going to love you whether you fall on your face or win. You know?”

Ballerini is nominated for new artist and female vocalist of the year. And if she wins, her speech will come from her heart in that moment.

“I just feel like being genuine and in the moment is good,” she said. “Even if you cry or stumble, it’s genuine, and I think that matters. I try not to think about it.”

Ballerini will have three wardrobe changes on Wednesday — a performance outfit, an after-party dress and a red carpet gown she found on Instagram.

“I literally saw this dress on my Instagram feed months ago,” she said. “I took a screenshot of it, sent it to my stylist and said, ‘This is my CMA dress. I just know it.’ We got it and it fit perfectly. So it was meant to be.”

Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley will co-host the 50th annual CMAs live from Nashville on Wednesday (Nov. 2) on ABC.

Lauren Tingle is a Tennessean and storyteller who eats music for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When she’s not writing or rocking out, she enjoys yoga and getting lost in the great outdoors.