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Kelsea Ballerini on Internet hosting the CMT Music Awards for One Ultimate Time

Kelsea Ballerini has been the hostess with the mostest, so far as the CMT Music Awards, however it can quickly be time to slap an “emeritus” on that. She hosts the awards present, now seen on CBS, tonight for a fourth and final time. Ballerini is revealing she shall be relinquishing the position after dealing with emcee duties since 2021; Kane Brown was her companion in co-hosting earlier telecasts, main as much as her solo reign over the ceremony this time.

Sitting in her dressing room backstage at Austin’s Moody Heart the day earlier than the telecast, she was something however moody in discussing why she’s loved the CMTs journey up to now, however why she’ll additionally get pleasure from delving additional into different alternatives she’s hoping to give attention to extra within the time to return.

“It’s my last 12 months, yeah,” Ballerini confirms. “I’ve hosted or co-hosted this present for 4 years now, and I’ve gotten to host a variety of totally different sorts of ventures over the past decade — and I actually get pleasure from it. It was the very first thing that I did exterior of music actually, that allowed me to ask myself the query: What else? Like, what else can I do? And I’m able to ask myself that query once more, and I actually need to give myself the house to see what else there may be. By no means say by no means — I’ll by no means say that I received’t come do that once more. I like it. I simply am excited to see what else I can do.”

It’s not any secret that Ballerini has her eyes set on different media; she mentioned it in a earlier interview with Selection… for an article in any other case targeted on her renewing her Black River document deal, indicating that she’s undoubtedly not dropping all the things to discover new avenues. So in the case of what else may be forward, for now, she says, “I’m actually creatively fulfilled by the thought of discovering a technique to get entangled with newer artists and discover a technique to creatively collaborate. And I’m actually excited concerning the thought of performing some stuff in movie and TV and simply pushing myself exterior of my consolation zone. Music is at all times gonna be my child and my focus and the factor that I shield probably the most, however within the house round it, I need to continue to grow and I need to hold difficult myself.”

Going it solo on the helm isn’t in any respect daunting. “I really like Kane and I miss him this 12 months, however I really feel like I’ve gotten sufficient expertise underneath my belt the place I really feel outfitted — yeah, I’ll take the job.” With one asterisk to that confidence. “I put on a variety of very giant heels, and now I don’t have a pleasant arm subsequent to me to assist me not journey. In order that’s terrifying.”

AUSTIN, TEXAS – APRIL 05: Kelsea Ballerini attends the 2024 CMT Music Awards – Rehearsals – Day One at Moody Heart on April 05, 2024 in Austin, Texas. (Picture by Catherine Powell/Getty Photographs for CMT)
Getty Photographs for CMT

Ballerini has a brand new album-in-progress, to observe up her Grammy-nominated “Rolling Up the Welcome Mat” mission. However earlier than she begins teasing that, the singer has simply launched a between-albums one-off — a newly rearranged model of her breakout hit “Love Me Like You Imply It,” which she considers “just a bit thank-you” to the followers who’ve been along with her for 10 years. That’s the tune she’ll be seen doing on the CMTs, pre-taped in entrance of a crowd on the tower at UT Austin.

“I stand by the tune and the sentiment a lot, nonetheless,” she avows. “The guts of ‘Love Me Like You Imply It’ is that we settle for the love that we predict we deserve, and inspiring one another to carry ourselves accountable to just accept good love. And me as a 30-year-old feels the identical means, however has a variety of life since I wrote that tune at 19. So I used to be like, how would 30-year-old me sing this? And that was a very enjoyable discovery. To me it was just like the ending of a decade of music collectively, and after which a continuation of ‘Welcome Mat’ and sonically form of a touch as to what’s subsequent.”

Her position within the present apart, Ballerini has picks for what she thinks telecast highlights may be.

“For my part, the efficiency of the evening’s gonna be Little Huge City and Sugarland, that they have already got such a synergy and a historical past collectively,” she says. Though the identification of the tune the 2 acts are doing collectively isn’t being revealed previous to showtime, “I’ve heard the tune, as a result of Karen (Fairchild) is only a expensive sister to me,” she says. “And I keep in mind after I heard ‘Life in a Northern City once they did it collectively years in the past” — on the CMT Awards in 2008, the final time these two teams collaborated on a efficiency — “and it simply brings me proper again to that, and I believe it’s gonna be a second.”

She’s additionally excessive on a model new artist, Dasha, who’ll be making the transition from TikTok star to prime time tv for the primary time with a efficiency of “Austin.”

“I imply, we have now Trisha (Yearwood) and we have now Keith (City) holding it down, as pillar, household-name nation artists that individuals have tuned into these exhibits for years and years to see. After which the vary goes all the best way to Dasha, who’s blowing up on TikTok. I referred to as Jason (Owen), my supervisor, a couple of month in the past, and I used to be like, ‘I don’t know if all of the efficiency spots are booked or not, but when not, can we get her on the present’ She has the tune referred to as ‘Austin’” — as in, completely coincidentally, the host metropolis — “and it’s good. I believe we’d like her, and I’m so blissful she’s on the present now. And it’s her first awards present efficiency and her first efficiency in an enviornment, so it’s a giant deal.”

Dasha was, in truth, leaving Ballerini’s dressing room simply minutes in the past, after beforehand telling Selection how a lot she regarded ahead to probably hanging with Ballerini. The host finds herself now in that hopefully candy spot the place she’s regarded as much as as a veteran by a number of the youngest feminine artists arising, however remains to be a veritable child to a lot of the business that’s stored her as a star for 10 years — a center floor she’s blissful to inhabit proper now, nonetheless laborious it’s to completely understand from the within out.

“That makes me smile,” she says, when instructed what number of younger girls with debut albums point out her as an affect or somebody they hope to satisfy. “I’m at all times in dialog with myself on discovering the proper line of nonetheless considering I’m a brand new artist, after which additionally honoring the last decade that I’ve had and never discrediting the success I’ve had. I really feel like I’ve spent a variety of my profession form of with my shoulders a bit of bit hunched in, and I’m actually making an attempt to face tall on this final decade of labor and be happy with myself and present up for that, whereas additionally understanding that I nonetheless have a protracted technique to go and I at all times wanna push myself and continue to grow. So it’s actually enjoyable to have the ability to be mates with and in the identical room and conditions as my heroes, however then additionally being assembly the newer artists that I nonetheless actually determine with, a variety of the time.”

Of her earlier three stints internet hosting or co-hosting the CMTs, final 12 months was her favourite. “I used to be happy with the present as an entire, and I used to be happy with what I used to be in a position to convey to the present,” she says of 2023’s present— together with a musical efficiency from her that included a phalanx of drag queens, proper as Tennessee legislators have been enacting anti-drag laws, plus a gap assertion addressing gun violence within the wake of a Nashville mass college taking pictures. “So far as my opening assertion, my efficiency internet hosting with Kane, being in a brand new metropolis, I really feel like we actually did convey a brand new breath of life to the present that was actually enjoyable to look at occur in actual time. So I believe that, for me, is the bar.”

Undoubtedly not the excessive level, however one thing she is ready to look again on with some affection, was the 12 months 2022, when she was scheduled to co-host in particular person with Anthony Mackie however shifted to digital co-host when she examined constructive for COVID, regardless of feeling high quality. Brown stepped in to imagine a number of the duties she would have had on the host enviornment in Nashville, whereas Ballerini did reside remotes from the socially distanced consolation of dwelling.

“I chortle at it now, and I’m actually happy with the pivot that we ended up having the ability to do,” Ballerini says. “It could’ve been very easy for them to be like, ‘OK, we’re gonna simply fill your spot,’ and so they didn’t. They put a satellite tv for pc truck exterior of my home with all of the gear that it was straightforward for me to determine and to nonetheless be part of it. It was very a lot a bookmark of that point, which was pivoting and figuring issues out because it was taking place to us. It undoubtedly wasn’t ideally suited, however we pulled it off, and I received to finish the evening in my sweatpants, so it was a win.”

She’s extremely approving of the CMTs being in Austin for a second 12 months, as each this present and the ACMs have shifted to a Texas base, for the sake of shaking issues up but additionally with no small assist from monetary incentives. “, I’m Crew Evolve. I’m Crew Strive One thing New — see the way it works, see if it’s proper,” she says. “I simply suppose particularly as a style, having the ability to put ourselves in new locations and check out new issues, that’s how we evolve. And to be right here, whether or not it’s for simply two years or the subsequent 20, I believe it was an superior, wholesome change.”

AUSTIN, TEXAS – APRIL 05: Kelsea Ballerini attends the 2024 CMT Music Awards – Rehearsals – Day One at Moody Heart on April 05, 2024 in Austin, Texas. (Picture by Catherine Powell/Getty Photographs for CMT)
Getty Photographs for CMT

This 12 months, “I do know going into these moments that I really like having enjoyable with the style and the appears to be like and all that stuff, and I actually pleasure myself on not taking myself too rattling significantly. And I believe particularly with this present, and actually with the script this 12 months particularly, I get to lean into that extra and simply form of be who I’m.” Which is… “Actually, I’m a goofy woman, and I like having the ability to be that alongside being a reputable artist. Two issues can reside in the identical house.”

Some have puzzled concerning the tone of her subsequent album, since she pivoted from making the largely upbeat — and, sure, typically goofy — “Topic to Change” in 2022 proper into “Rolling Up the Welcome Mat” in 2023. That EP (later expanded to album lengthin a deluxe version) was her “divorce document,” utterly holistic as a thematic look into darkish developments in her private life. If anybody following the nation world had failed to offer her credit score as a cred artist up to now, “Welcome Mat” disabused them of these doubts, and racked up the form of album of the 12 months nominations at awards exhibits (together with the Grammys) that had typically eluded her when she was producing extra effusive materials. However talking of Crew Evolve, will the subsequent album mission be a pivot again to extra clearly mainstream fare, or…?

“Properly, I believe that’s form of like what I used to be saying earlier: two issues will be true. Like, I’m a deeply emotional and dedicated songwriter. That’s my absolute reality. It’s the love of my life; it’s my craft. And even on this new season of life, I’m actually being diligent about making a document that has that very same stage of songwriting and honesty and intention as ‘Welcome Mat’ in depth. In the identical breath, I’m a 30-year-old woman that basically is having fun with my life, and I’m in a unique section of my life now that’s stuffed with much more gentle and pleasure. And I really like having the ability to have a good time that, and there’s house for each.”

However you received’t see a lot of the “Welcome Mat” facet of her on the CMTs. For the larger viewers that now watches the present reside on CBS and Paramount+ (and, after a couple of days, its namesake, CMT, too), she shall be rolling out a real welcome mat, one which’s nearer to comedic in tone.

“, I’m gonna be doing a bit of ‘Barbie’ bit. I’m gonna be doing a bit of impromptu collab. And I’m gonna be making enjoyable of myself on the prime of the present. As a result of I similar to to beat individuals to the punch, and I’m going to be most likely dropping (as a nominee)… however trying good and doing it nicely.”

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