There is no doubt that CMT Artist of the Year Kelsea Ballerini is having a moment. The Grammy nominee dominated the country airwaves in 2018 with her irresistible hit “I Hate Love Songs,” and her latest single “Miss Me More” is climbing the country charts.
She’s performing on one of music’s biggest tours, Keith Urban’s Graffiti U tour, and she’s now played top Los Angeles venues including the Hollywood Bowl, the Troubadour, the Wiltern and most recently, the Staples Center. Saturday’s (Oct. 6) Staples Center debut featured surprise guest Bebe Rexha and the live premiere of Ballerini’s new Chainsmokers collaboration, “This Feeling.”
As a two-time CMT Artist of the Year, Ballerini will perform with Alison Krauss at the ceremony, premiering live from Nashville Oct. 17 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. In a recent interview with CMT.com, Ballerini said she wouldn’t be a 2018 honoree without the women who came before her.
“The first female artist to believe in me was Hillary Scott,” Ballerini said. “When I met her, I knew I wanted to be an artist. I didn’t have the opportunity to yet, but that was my dream. And she encouraged me. When those opportunities did start happening, she really walked through them with me. That changed my direction in a big way.”
She also emphasized the importance of aspiring musicians seeing other women perform onstage.
“I remember watching specifically Taylor [Swift] and being like, ‘I gotta play guitar because she plays guitar,’” Ballerini added. “When people say, ‘I learned how to play my guitar,’ or ‘I just wrote my first song,’ at a meet-and-greet, that really matters to me.”
And she’s always on the lookout for aspiring performers in her audiences on the road.
“I feel the way I [pay it forward] is when I see a little girl with a sign asking, ‘Can I sing with you,’ my answer is always yes because you showed up in your cute little tutu or your sparkly t-shirt, and you made a sign because you came here to see a female.”
The deluxe edition of Unapologetically (out Oct. 26) includes new songs “Fun and Games,” “I Think I Fell In Love Today,” Fleetwood's “Landslide (Live from Nashville)” and “This Feeling.”